Met up with a woodland ranger today for advice on winter tree identification.
Bill Godsafe – Essex Wildlife Trust ranger at Hanningfield Reservoir – showed us the clues to look out for: bark colour and texture, canopy width and shape, bud colour and stickiness, dead leaves on the ground.
This was a neat trick. Look out for the first tree flowers of winter. They're tiny. And in the case of the hazel, crimson flowers are visible from December 'til February. The chap inspecting flowers below was a retired orchard farmer from Dunmow. He said he enjoyed learning wild tips as much as the rest of us.
But... Bill saved his best advice for last:
"Buy a good tree guide."
More tree identification in July or August. Bill's also organising walks throughout the year to include more tree tips. Call 01268 711001 to reserve a place.