Nine members met near Haresfield Beacon for a session identifying trees and shrubs in winter. We saw 20 different kinds up close, plus alder, pine and larch at a distance. We considered many aspects – the twig characteristics, any remaining leaves and fruit, leaves on the ground, and distance recognition from silhouette.
We used the winter twig pdf from the Nature Detectives website as our crib sheet in the field. This shows 18 common species in colour. http://www.naturedetectives.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/344CA3AC-3973-465F-9E30-828247B9770D/0/twigs.pdf
The Science and Plants for Schools website has an excellent twig key, but you need to take the specimen to your computer. http://www-saps.plantsci.cam.ac.uk/trees/index.htm
Also useful are the tree identification activity sheets on the Woodland Trust website http://www.woodland-trust.org.uk/discovery/images/treeid_activity.pdf
The Cotswold top woodlands of Haresfield Hill are dominated by ash and beech, with hazel and hawthorn in the understorey. The adjacent limestone grasslands have a light smattering of scrub species, especially hawthorn and blackthorn with ash, oak and birch also colonising. Other highlights of the meeting were 5 Roe Deer. Some of us were lucky enough to see a Woodcock fly across the lane as we made our way back to the cars in the twilight.