Tuesday, October 1st 2019
If plants are to survive they must produce cones, seeds, berries or fruits. These in turn must germinate and so grow into new plants. Some seeds only require to drop on the ground and the following spring new shoots appear, like the Yellow Rattle on the moor. Some have a much more complicated pre-germination process and can take many years before new green leaves appear. Certain seeds, berries and fruits need to pass through the digestive system of birds or other animals. To make themselves appealing to be eaten many berries turn red. Foxglove's Hawthorn trees are covered in red berries and these will soon be eaten by our own Blackbirds and Thrushes and later by the winter migrants, mainly Redwings and Fieldfares.
Whitebeam are often planted in towns and on housing estates, showing their white flowers in early summer and red berries in autumn. During this year we set ourselves the task to find the Whitebeam planted on the reserve. We found one. Walking along the path near the lake we spotted a tree covered in red berries, we had found a second one. How we had missed this in the spring is a total mystery. Possibly we were walking along looking at other things! These berries will also provide food for the birds.
Holly berries are just turning red. Like some fruits that we eat that can taste sweet or sour, I suspect that these berries are the same. Some years trees are cleared of every berry, other times not a one is eaten. Also this can happen at various times through late autumn and winter.
The female Juniper trees around the heath have produced a good crop of blue cones, which take several years to ripen. They do not appear to be eaten by anything. Very special treatment before being set to germinate is required and then it may take two years before they actually show any signs of growth.
When walking around the reserve keep your eyes on these berries and you may be lucky to see a variety of birds having a feast.
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