Tar Spot


Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Thursday, 4th October, 2007

tar spotTHIS SYCAMORE sapling was growing in the smallest strip of soil at the edge of a hospital car park in the city. Given time, I’m sure it would grow, spread its ‘helicopter’ winged seeds and turn tarmac into woodland. The black blotches on the leaf are Tar Spot fungus, Rhytisma acerinum, which can infect a wide variety of maples. The fungus overwinters on fallen leaves, then windblown spores infect young foliage the following spring. Tar Spot prefers damp conditions so the floods we had in Wakefield 100 days ago must have suited it.

The treatment for this fungus is Bordeaux Mixture which contains copper sulphate. Sulphur dioxide in the air in cities also eradicates it so the fact that Tar Spot is a common sight could be seen as an encouraging sign that the air in Wakefield these days is reasonably clean.

Autumn Influx

long-tailed titCooler days and nights mean that insects are less plentiful in the wood and we’re noticing more birds coming into the garden. We had long-tailed tits in the rowan in the front garden this morning and on the back lawn there were four blackbirds, apparently all getting along together, which wasn’t the case during the nesting season.

blackbridsThe blackbird population is boosted at this time of year not only because this year's young are now spreading their wings but also because migrant blackbirds come across the North Sea to escape the colder continental winters. Despite milder winters there still appears to be an influx of blackbirds at this time of year.

Well, there’s a bit of an influx in our back garden anyway, but that is, after all, a part of the bigger picture.