Spending time with trees is really good for our mental and physical wellbeing. The Manchester City of Trees website has found 9 ways in which they can help us live healthier, happier lives, including easing depression, improving air quality, and bringing people together. And there are many ways to interact with trees: we can sit under them, carefully climb them, make rubbings of their bark, even give them a great big hug! The list is endless.
To get you started discovering trees, we thought we would go for a walk around the green spaces in Govanhill, to see what amazing trees we have in the local area. Here are some of them:
Govanhill Park: Branches of Support
These trees are dotted around the edges of the park, close to the railings.
Two trees trying to reach each other over the railings. A nice relationship here to how we are all separated from our loved ones at the moment.
A branch holding up another branch, keeping it upright
Lichen, which is not a single species, but actually a relationship between a fungus and an algae!
Queens Park: Magic and Memory
These trees are all in the area around the flagpole, at the highest point in the park.
Bark rubbing- look at all the different kinds. It looks like the surface of different planets! Perhaps this could be a suggested activity, where we include a blank piece of paper in each envelope?
A tree that has been struck by lightning. Apparently, the Celts built sacred sites where they saw lightning strike the ground.
Ring of apple trees with ribbon, leftovers from the wassail festival, which is the ancient tradition of singing to and blessing apple trees at the beginning of Spring, waking them from their winter slumber and asking for a good harvest for the year ahead.
Another wonderful thing about trees is that they are a home for birdlife! Early in June I went to Cathkin Park to hear the dawn chorus. May and June are the best times to hear this amazing daily concert, as birds are trying to find partners for the mating season while at the same time defending their territory from other hopefuls! But it is still worthwhile getting up early at any time of year, to hear the birds before human noises start to muffle them.
On that day I got to the park before sunrise, and in a 2-hour walk around the park I heard at least 12 different birds, with a few surprised foxes being the only other creatures about at that hour. It is good to check the weather forecast before heading out, since it is very difficult to hear birdsong when the wind is blowing. Thankfully the conditions were pretty good, as the previous night’s wind and rain had disappeared. I felt very lucky to be able to forget about the chaos of the world for a few hours, and just to lose myself in the beautiful birdsong.
On my walk around I made lots of small recordings, which I have stitched together into a five-minute audio track. It’s best to listen with headphones, because then you can really immerse yourself in the sounds of the outdoors.
This is what you can hear:
Right at the beginning you can hear a plucky wren churring away. These tiny birds make so much noise! In the background there is a song thrush, singing its heart out in short, repetitive phrases.
The little barks you first hear here are the jackdaw, a smaller cousin of the crow. You can hear them squabbling at 1.52.
A crow speaks up during the jackdaws’ arguing, maybe to tell them to pipe down!
This is recorded from a different part of the park, and you can really hear the finches getting stuck into their songs. It is hard to pick out individual birds here, but you can hear both goldfinches and chaffinches giving it their all. The deeper notes you hear in the background are from a stately blackbird, who is often the first one to start singing at dawn.
This rattling sound is the magpie, large flocks of which kept swooping over the pitch.
Many of you are probably familiar with the plump woodpigeon, just starting to get involved here. Woodpigeons are very funny to watch as they are extremely clumsy and make a lot of noise when taking off!
We hope you have enjoyed this exploration of the wonder of trees. What have you seen on your daily walks? Let us know by emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org or by tagging us on social media!