Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Tree Following 2016 - along the river bank

I have had a change of mind and abandoned the idea of following the wind damaged Birch that grows in my garden for this year's Tree Following meme.  I felt that I may have had a real struggle finding something interesting or new to say over the next 11 or so months.  Pat, apologies for this sudden change of mind.  As yet I haven't a clue as to the ID of the tree I am choosing.  It will become apparent in the next month or so.  I doubt it's anything rare, special or magnificent.

I set out along this path just shortly after I had eaten my lunch.  It's not far at all from the house.  At the end of the street to be exact.  The sun was shining and it had already chased away an earlier chill.  I had absolutely no idea just which tree or group of trees I was going to choose.  However, I have to be mindful of the fact that as of next week I will more than likely have to bring baby Olli along on this walk with me.  His mum is returning to work after her maternity leave and Gramma (as I have affectionately become known) will have him most afternoons. Further along this route the terrain is pretty hilly and I would have problems manoeuvring his buggy up and down the hills.      

For the first half a mile the ground is relatively flat and I should imagine manoeuvring the buggy relatively easy.  Further along the path the tree planting is dense and the ground doesn't dry out much. Another reason not to go traipsing the buggy along there.

River walkway with Broxburn shale bings in the distance

As I stroll along the river it very quickly becomes apparent to me that without leaves I have absolutely no idea just what most of the trees are.  The two above I know are rowans.  They are covered in red berries in autumn, they don't last though.


This tree, on the other side of the river, is gnarled, covered in lichen and in my opinion an interesting shape.  Because of where it is it would be impractical for me to follow.  There would be no opportunty for close ups - I doubt the farmer would take kindly to me wandering through his field.  A lone Jackdaw sits a top.  I have seen the water come up the bank and out over  the field when the river is high at this spot.  































I pass Sycamore, many more Rowans and others I do not recognise. Willows generally line the bank along this first section.   The water is low and quite clear today.

Oops! This next tree is obviously dead.  To the touch the entire trunk is squidgy a bit like a damp sponge.  The damage to the bark? Is this natural decay or has some critter or other had a helping hand I wondered.
Looking back from whence I came
my house is obscured from the trees of in the distance in the centre of this shot

There are groups of Hawthorn planted on the sections between the development site boundary and the path.  Or at least I think they are Hawthorn.  I would suspect this particular grouping were deliberately planted, it looks to uniform not to be. This site is really open and with the prevailing wind from the West they all list in exactly the same way.

Hawthorns between the path and the site boundary

What particularly struck me is the fact that on this side of the river there are very few snowdrops growing.  On the opposite bank - clumps were happily growing.  Observing these snowdrops over the years made me aware that our common snowdrop, G. nivalis, will quite happily thrive in far from perfect conditions.  The water can be high here for many many weeks on end.    


Dead?  I think so or at the very least on the way out.  Many of the trees that line the river bank I note have suckers rising from fallen remains.


There is bracket fungus about the size of a dinner plate nearer the top of the trunk of this particular tree.


There is a man made fork in the path here.  The path veering off to the left is to higher ground and preferred by the local dog walkers.  In the 9 years I've lived here the only folks I've ever noticed using this path are locals.  The fact that this path goes nowhere means we never see any serious walkers. Older folks in the village tell me that at one point you could walk right through to the neighbouring town (Broxburn) but the through path has been blocked further up the route.


As you round the bend the area opens up a bit more.  It does not feel so narrow and enclosed. The river is now a good 50 yds or so away from the foot path at this point.  Right now the river is still accessible but in the coming months once the nettles and brambles take over you need a suit of armour to get down there.


A close up of the viaduct in the background.  This Viaduct forms the boundary between Edinburgh City and West Lothian.  This viaduct, The Almond Valley Viaduct, was built between 1839 and 1842. Part of the main Glasgow to Edinburgh train line it remains the longest structure on any railway in Scotland.  If you are so inclined, I've provided a link with more historical details for you.  I waited, yet no train came!

Almond Valley Viaduct
The land along the river here has a planning designation of Site of  importance for Natural Conservation(SiNC) placed upon it.  It borders a site earmarked for the development of just under 600 homes.  This is not a bad thing.  Our area needs these homes to ensure we maintain a good public transport system and other services.  As part of their outline planning consent, the developers must improve this area and make it more accessible.  Whether or not this ever comes to fruition is anyone's guess.

This tree at the next clearing I thought would make an ideal candidate to follow.  I have absolutely no idea which particular species it is.  Something common obviously as I have passed by many that look very similar.


I thought it had some interesting features.

An elephant's eye?


There are lichens.  I note that a lot of the trees here have this same yellow lichen on them.  This particular lichen, if I have my identification right, is Golden Shield Lichen (Xanthoria parientina) is found in sunny exposed areas.  In the shade it lacks this orange/yellow colouring.  I wonder will it loos it's colouring once the tree leafs out.



There is fresh green growth appearing on the floor beneath.  Again, showing my ignorance, I haven't the foggiest as to what this is.  I've a lot of learning to do.  Native or a non native invasive?  I know for sure there is the invasive Himalayan Balsam growing along the river bank here. It will be interesting to see what else I come across.


I can hear but can't see many birds.  In particular there is a male chaffinch peeping like mad behind me.  I have obviously unsettled him.  Perhaps he knows it's me, the lady that provides the sunflower hearts in her garden.  I shall bring some with me next time I think.

Seed heads around my chosen tree
Lastly, from the opposite angle.  You can't failed to be impress by those beautiful blue skies. Proving that it's not always gloomy skies here in Scotland.


I hope you enjoyed your wee walk today.

29 comments:

  1. Hi Angie,It's been a lovely walk on a sunny day looking at trees..
    Amanda xx

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    1. It was a gorgeous day for a stroll Amanda.

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  2. A beautiful walk, how lovely to have it so close to home!

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    1. It is Jessica. Particularly handy when we still had a dog.

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  3. Love those blue skies in the photo Angie, could do with a lot more of those :) I enjoyed your walk, I hope the wee birch comes away in time, a multi stemmed birch in the border would be no bad thing :) have a good week.

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    1. I second that Rona - nice today too. I'm off work this coming week and I think the good weather is to continue. Hooray!

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  4. Thank you for taking us with you on your walk, how wonderful that it is on your doorstep. I'm wondering if your last tree could be an ash, they grow tall and straight. Snowdrops do like moist soil, so I imagine they will be happy on your river bank as the water should drain away fairly quickly.

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    1. You are welcome Pauline. Time will tell re identification. Chloris agrees with you in her comment below but suggests the buds are black. On this tree they are yellow. I do have pictures but none came out in focus!

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  5. I love gnarly old tree trunks

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    1. They are ever so tactile aren't they Sue.

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  6. Lovely to go on a walk with you. I wish more bloggers would show the countryside round where they live. Like Pauline, I wondered whether the tree is an Ash. The clue would be in the buds. Are they very black? Ash trees have black buds.

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    1. The buds are quite yellow Chloris. The pictures I took of them were poor so didn't show them. I will make a better effort next time. I would be nice to see more of the countryside wouldn't it.

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  7. It was very nice to go along with you on this walk. It gives you a feel for the area.

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    1. It does Alain. We often forget just how limiting the pictures from our gardens are to our surrounds.

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  8. Can't think of anything better to photograph at this time of the year than the architecture of deciduous trees, wonderful Angie.

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  9. How nice to have walkable (or mostly walkable) countryside nearby! I imagine it will look very different as the trees leaf out and it warms up. I look forward to discovering your tree's identity along with you.

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    1. It is a nice place to walk Kris. In autumn there are many brambles to pick and eat along the way.

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  10. Superb photos, Angie! Like you, I felt the need for change ... perhaps a kind of longing in my case for the true arrival of spring! And today - hooray - we have woken up to glorious sunshine and birdsong. It will be interesting to see how our new trees do, though i haven't abandoned the Silver Birch, which will probably remain my main focus.

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    1. The week ahead is to be a good one Caroline, it should feel more spring like I hope!

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  11. Excellent choice - it's one of those trees where I have seen the shape before but can't quite place what it is!
    Thanks for taking us along on your wonderful ramble. That's my kind of walk.
    Great details as well as the general views. Love the elephant's eye.
    Hopefully Olli will become a nature follower, too!
    All the best :)

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    1. Thanks Pat. I feel much better about my choice now so am really looking forward to taking you all on a ramble every month and I hope Olli enjoys it too.

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  12. Angie, I enjoyed reading your post earlier, now I'm on the tablet so I can comment, the tablet is too small to see the photos properly, the trees may be common natives but they are interesting, I wonder why there are so many dead trees, your tree of choice is a nice shape, enjoy grandson sitting, he is at a lovely age and I'm sure will enjoy the walks, Frances

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  13. What a fabulous walk...and a lovely tree against that blue sky. I have not chosen a tree either, and I may not...we shall see. Many of my snowdrops grow in less than ideal conditions...soggy conditions actually...what a treat to see them growing there in the woods.

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  14. I'll be interested to learn more about your new tree. It's a nice stroll to get to it. I think lichens add a lot of character to a tree.

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  15. Hi, Angie, I like this stroll with you along the river. I saw many Hawthorn trees around my summer cottage but I didn't plant it in my garden - this tree is enough large for it. I love your photos, it seems spring is totally around your place now.

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  16. That's a lovely walk Angie, thank you for taking us with you. I like your chosen tree very much, but have no idea what it is. Look forward to finding out, as follow it.

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