Home Again!

Dear Readers, well here we are, back in East Finchley, and the wind has been something of a feature of the last few days. You might possibly remember that the airport in Austria that we travel home from, Innsbruck, is a Category C airport, which means that the pilot needs special training to land there – the descent involves travelling along the Inns valley, with mountains on either side, regular risks of thunderstorms and strange wind conditions, especially when it’s hot (about 97 degrees at the airport yesterday). Our flight was delayed by about 90 minutes, and on the live tracker we could see it flying over Innsbruck and then circling around to try to find a better approach. Unfortunately for the people waiting for a flight to Frankfurt, their flight couldn’t find a way to land at all – when we left, the passengers were still waiting in Innsbruck while their plane was in Munich. Such are the delights of air travel these days, and the irony that the heatwave in Spain and Portugal was caused by climate change (in part caused by air travel),exacerbated by it being an El Niño year, wasn’t lost on me. I worry about all the people jetting into Greece, Spain and Portugal this summer and being unprepared for what 47/49 degrees Centigrade feels like.

Anyhow, after a bumpy ride, we finally got home, only to see this fallen tree outside the house next door. It’s been windy in the UK (winds up to about 55 m.p.h) which wouldn’t be a problem in winter when the trees are bare. Sadly, at the moment they’re in full leaf, so the leaves act like a parachute, catching the wind and pulling the tree over. The one in the photo is an Amelanchior canadensis – you might remember that it was already at a peculiar angle, which doesn’t help.

The tree last year

It doesn’t ever seem to have been propped up, but then when I looked at the bottom of the tree, it seems to be completely rotten – the portion still in the ground had a mushy texture.

Interestingly, two other street trees blew over in East Finchley yesterday and one of the others was reported to have been rotten at the base as well (it was a much larger, more well-grown tree than the one in the photo). I wonder what’s going on? Are the trees already diseased when the council buys them from the nursery, or is it the conditions that are weakening the trees (drought, air pollution, run-off) that makes them more likely to contract fungal/viral/bacterial diseases? ‘Our’ tree looked fairly healthy except for some crisping of the leaves, but clearly it wasn’t. Was it just the wrong tree in the wrong place? It would be interesting to find out.

And in other news, our cat Willow was so pleased to see us after two weeks that she decided it would be appropriate to sing the song of her people to us every half an hour throughout the night. Readers, I doubt I got more than twenty consecutive minutes at any point. She is completely deaf which doesn’t help with the volume. Hopefully she’ll settle down over the next few nights, otherwise it’s the ear plugs for me. She has also taken to standing in her litter tray with her bum sticking out and creating an attractive water feature all over the floor. Well, she is the cat equivalent of about 91 now, so we will  cut her some slack, but it’s off to the vet with her next week for a check up. I know that if she is getting the cat equivalent of dementia there isn’t much we can do, but let’s see if it’s something else. In the meantime, she is very keen to investigate the fallen tree.  You wouldn’t think she was 91, would you? I hope I’m still as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed if I get to live that long.


4 thoughts on “Home Again!

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      That’s a really interesting thought, Lorraine, but I don’t think so in this case (although you’re right, it could have contributed to the pollution) – I don’t know if there’s any correlation between fungal infection and dog urine. The tree looked pretty healthy until it fell over, which is a bit worrying if you think about it. At least no one was passing by when it fell.

  1. itwasjudith

    Welcome back to the UK!
    Interesting line of investigation about the rotting trees. I wonder if the hotter weather allows fungi to develop (akin to what happens with bugs in fir forests, which die as a consequence – a problem in some Austrian regions).
    Thank for all the interesting blogposts of your holiday trekking, we found great inspiration in those and managed to visit the Rotmoostal. Sad to see the glacier almost gone, though.
    I hope all is well with Willow.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      Hi there! Personally I’m convinced that the heat has something to do with it – the trees are in such exposed positions, and there’s nothing to protect them from sun or wind. Once they’re weakened, all sorts of parasites and pests can get a grip. Plus I’m not convinced that they’re very well planted – the one that fell over seemed to be very shallow-rooted and was already leaning at a 45 degree angle, poor thing….


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