A simple life is a happy one, learning to enjoy, explore and discover whatever your age :)

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Chirpy Challenge quiz – which bird is which?

Birds that you’ve seen

Over the past weeks, we’ve talked about 19 different birds and in this post you’ll see pictures of each one.

Your challenge is, can you name them? There are some clues! Or can you give them new names? Let me know how you get on and I’d love to see any drawings you make ๐Ÿ™‚

If you need help, check out the Chirpy Challenges page or find the answers at the bottom of this post.

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Oot ma door 8 – the elder tree

The elder tree

This tree is more of a shrub. It can grow to an average height of 10m and is often seen in hedgerows, squidged between other trees such as hawthorn, holly and ash.

In Scotland it’s known as the bourtree and has long been associated with the mystic. If elder trees grew on farmland, it was considered a blessing and it is said that as it can never be struck by lightning, it is good to have one near your home.

In times past every part of the elder would be used for medicinal purposes, including the bark and leaves. More info here:

The wood is strong and was used to make fence posts and tool handles. It is not suitable for burning as it tends to spark.

Elder twigs and branches are easily hollowed out and can be used to make whistles and beads.

Elder – the giving tree

Older and wiser, yet young I may be, drink twice of the riches that come from me – Grace Banks

What drinks can we enjoy from the elder tree?

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Chirpy Challenge 18

Any idea what this wee bird is?

Over these last years this wee bird has been seen more frequently in towns.

Check out its position on the tree, what d’you think it’s doing?

Look at its beak, what d’you think it eats?

Check under ‘T’ here:

Challenge – can you draw this one?

Time for a tale

Katherine Crackernuts

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Oot ma door 7 – the oak tree

The oak tree

Time for a tale – Jack and the dancing trees

This story about oak trees is a favourite, told to me by Stanley Robertson

In Scotland you might see two different oak trees – the English oak and the sessile oak.

How d’you spot the difference? The English oak has bunches of leaves with no stalks with its acorns on stalks, the sessile is the opposite.

These trees can live to a great age and if they have room, will grow up to 50m, expanding out to give a lovely canopy.

The oak can be found all over Europe; on the west coast of Scotland forests of oak are particularly dense. These wonderful trees can support approximately 500 types of insects. When the leaves fall they form a rich rotting carpet that provides food for many.

Oak has hardwood which has been used for centuries in shipbuilding and house building. Near where I live in Aberdeen, King’s College was built in 1495 on marshland on a raft of oak. Beautiful furniture and long-lasting barrels are also made from oak.

A wee tale….

In my childhood home we had an oak chest, inscribed with the date 1556. It was blackened with age.

One summer I was investigating my ancestry. I went down to Newcastle under Lyme, near Manchester. I visited the church where my mother’s ancestors, the Thicknes family, had been farmers. There was a chapel dedicated to the family in this church, and there, beside it, was a blackened oak chest, which looked exactly like the piece in my home. It gave me quite a thrill. As I put my hand on the smooth wood, it felt like I was touching and connecting with those in my past.

Oak tannin from the bark tans leather and even oak sawdust is used to flavour foods in the smoking process.

Find out more here:

The oak tree

The tree, bark, buds and leaves

Oak trees grow tall and magnificently in many places.

The warm brownish bark is uniformly fissured, sometimes developing plates in older trees:

Oak buds are scaly and grow in clusters, looking small and oval through winter. In spring they elongate and the layers change from brown to green:

The ‘oval-cloud’ shaped leaves and lamb’s tail catkins emerge at the same time:

Young leaves can be pale, almost orangey-yellow in colour:

The fruit

Acorns are not a yeary fruit. it takes an oak 50 years to develop fruit and often they will only bear fruit every few years. Acorns develop over the summer and ripen by October:

In autumn leaves change colour:

I have always looked on the oak as a beautiful climbing tree:

Thanks for joining me, see you next time ๐Ÿ™‚

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Chirpy Challenge 17

Another wee bird

Hi folks, do you recognise this wee bird?

For some of you, it’s such a common sight, you may not have ever really looked at it’s bonny plumage.

Even its call may be so familiar to you that it’s just another everyday sound that you hardly notice ๐Ÿ™‚

Check out its beak, what d’you think it eats?

Challenge – can you draw this one?

Time for a tale –

This story has many shapes and forms, do you recognise it?

Nippit Fit, Clippit Fit‘, from the telling of Elizabeth MacKinnon and Annie Johnston
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Oot ma door 6 – the alder tree

Time for a tale –

The Poor Man’s Clever Daughter, from the telling of Peter Stewart

Hi abody, today we’re looking at the alder, one of our native trees.

Alder trees favour growing on or near river banks and marshy areas.

These trees are a vital part of Scotland’s regeneration of river areas.

For many years and in many areas farming has removed the treeline – the ‘green-lifeline’ from our riversides.

I’d always assumed it was natural for fields to stretch up to a river’s edge. But I’ve learned otherwise.

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