29 April 2021

Something I have appreciated a lot more since working at Treeconomics is how trees can provide so many benefits to us (click for reference link).  Some of these are spoken about fairly frequently, such as carbon storage and sequestration, air pollution removal, and stormwater attenuation.  However, trees offer many more benefits as well, and in this blog I hope to highlight some of these.  An example of this is how trees have helped in my passion for bird photography, by providing suitable habitats and nesting sites for birds, food sources, and an aesthetic appeal helping my photographs.

Habitat Creation

One of the most obvious benefits trees provide for birds is habitat creation.  Nests tend to vary a lot between species and some can be very difficult to spot, particularly when leaves emerge. There are some, however, that are very visible, such as this Osprey nest I saw in the Cairngorms, Scotland.  An Osprey’s nest, called an eyrie, tends to be built on top of large trees as shown in my photograph above and is made of branches, twigs, moss, bark and grass (click for reference link).  It takes both birds 14-21 days to make a nest, which can be up to 150 cm across and 60 cm deep (click for reference link).  The size and number of twigs and branches used was to incredible witness and made me appreciate how trees are so important is such a great construction.  Seeing a nest of such size on top of such a large tree is something I will never forget!

Food Sources

Trees also provide food sources for many birds.  The photograph I took above illustrates this, with a Redwing on Cotoneaster.  These birds arrive in the UK from Scandinavia in winter are often found alongside Fieldfares.  With approximately 8.6 million Redwings (click for reference link) and 680,000 Fieldfares overwintering in the UK (click for reference link), there is a reliance on a good supply of berries when they arrive, particularly from Hawthorn and Rowan as well.

Resident birds can also rely on trees for food, and a completely different example is a Treecreeper I photographed here.  These birds creep up trees, using their tail as a support, exploring bark and crevices, picking out insects (click for reference link). Treecreepers depend on trees so much, and even nest behind a flap of loose bark.  They have always been one of my favourite birds to spot because they are so small, delicate and camouflaged.

Aesthetic Appeal

 The complex network of branches, flowers and leaves of trees may also provide an aesthetic appeal, that can add a natural presence to photographs.  The picture above is of a Siskin and  the branches are going off in a number of directions, adding a sense of complexity.  The water droplets attached to the tips of twigs are blurred out in the background and the dark natural colours really enable the Siskin’s yellows to stand out.

Another photograph where I feel there is a natural aesthetic appeal is the Chiffchaff above.  The Blackthorn adds such a delicate dimension to the picture and really symbolises the arrival of spring.  The Chiffchaff compliments this theme really nicely too, having just completed it’s marathon journey from Africa.

The main purpose of this blog was to demonstrate that trees provide many benefits that are often under appreciated.  For me, being outside and taking photographs has always been enjoyable, and I am now so much more grateful for all experiences I have had when noticing what trees provide.  I often find it’s the smaller things or the less noticed things that can often provide the biggest benefits to our health and wellbeing, and I hope reading this blog has inspired you want to go outside and explore, if you have not already!

Photographs by James Chaplin, Treeconomics