Thursday 21st November 2013: The World of the Oak Tree

This month’s meeting kicked off with Wildlife Explorers drawing a map of a favourite place in Cheshire. Top choices included Tegg’s Nose and Dunham Massey.
There were lots of geographical features added and icons for nature spots. Maps will be entered into a CPRE competition.
The English Oak is the iconic British tree. used historically for building ships, furniture and barrels it also is very valuable for wildlife supporting large numbers of lichen, fungi, plants and animals. The trees regularly live to over 300 years old and as they age cracks and holes in the bark and branches provide an incredible variety of homes for wildlife

From tiny spiders, moth caterpillars and beetles to mammals like bats and wood mice the trees provide shelter and food. Lots of birds live in association with oak woodlands, many taking advantage of the supply of lots of caterpillars in the spring to feed their young.
Members of the group had collected a fantastic selection of autumn leaves with incredible colours. We used combinations of these to create Leaf Fireworks – explosions of red, gold, green and bronze on black sugar paper.
Wildlife Explorers made a living sculpture of a tree with working parts: Heartwood (standing tall and strong), tap roots (anchoring the tree), lateral roots (sucking up water), sapwood ( Phloem and Cambium (moving food from the leaves) and finally bark protecting the inner workings of the tree!
Phoenix learned some extra facts about some common oak galls: knopper, marble, oak apple, spangle and silk button spangle galls – all caused by oak gall wasps laying eggs on parts of oak trees.
Phoenix played a game of Tree Trumps, challenging each other on categories such as lifespan, timber value and the number of insect species each tree supports. In most categories the Sessile Oak won hands down!
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National Tree 2013 Week runs from November 23rd to December 1st.

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