Hitting the big time!

Working our way through our alley of red oaks today, I noticed on Google Maps that the all-seeing eye had spotted us…

Yup, that is OUR very own and personal traffic jam. The reason for it?

The council had wardens on traffic duty, allowing us to close off one of the lanes as we worked on the trees. As I said the other day, due to the road being so busy this inevitably resulted in tailbacks.

But I thought this was great, a bit like high-octane egogoogling… or a bit like we had made the big time: Wheeee! Mum, Dad, check it out, we’re famous, we’re on the INTERNET! (voice goes squeaky with excitement)

I doubt somewhat though that the folks sitting in their cars in the blazing sun shared my enthusiasm, but hey, they could have ridden their bicycles.

Neat and messy nests

Stumbled across this nest in one of the red oaks we were working on this week…

I was struck by how individual nests are. I found this one especially pleasing, you cannot help but admire its symmetry and the care with which it has been crafted. It would certainly seem very inviting to me if I were a bird. As it is, it might be a wee bit of a squeeze.

I never cease to be surprised by the range of what birds consider to be a nest.

From the beautifully crafted structure, as the one above, to something that looks, frankly, as though the bird that built it was on acid. Or some other substance… just a couple of twigs haphazardly jammed into a crotch and, hey presto, we have a nest. You can just picture father dove putting his wing on his son’s shoulder and saying, with a little tremble in his voice: Son, one day all this will be yours!

Gee whizz, dad, you really didn’t have to go to all that effort!

Having said that, we partially felled an Ash tree the other week that had some serious structural issues and therefore had to be removed as a matter of some urgency, we left the parts that crows were nesting in to be felled once the young had left the nests. Despite the fact that we were really careful as we were lifting the pieces out, they still tickled the nests as they were lifted past them. I was really impressed by the way that the nest withstood the buffeting – stuck way out in the periphery of the tree! And crow’s nests are not the lightest, remember.

And then some nests are just so big.

This reminds me of a job we used to do when I started up in tree care, this must have been in the early  90’s, working with Alan, a friend from Ireland based here in Basel, which involved removing storks’ nests in the Zoo. Storks add on a layer every year and the nests simply get too heavy for the trees – and become a hazard to the visitors, as they might fall down and obliterate some hapless soul.


So after the young had left the nests, we would run up the big extension ladder into the canopy of the tree, I would stand on the base to keep it stable, Alan would go up there, whack a hole in the middle of the nest with a hoe, knock it to pieces and let it fall to the ground. The issue being that storks are quite messy and their nests are filled – to the brim – with a brown-whitish sludge, consisting of droppings, bits of food, bugs – you name it. In fact, during a wet spring the young storks can drown in it. Which is a bit of a spanner in the works, if you are a young stork… what you might call starting off on on the wrong foot.

But what was much worse, was the fact that I would be standing under Alan on the base of the ladder as he unleashed this Tsunami of bird crap onto me. Talk about a rite of passage. I must have been quite a smell…

So there you go, those are my thoughts on birds’ nests.

Open heart surgery

We started a job yesterday along a very busy road for one of the local councils. The road leads out to Germany, is highly frequented more or less all the time and on top of it has tram tracks along one side of it. Parallel on the other side from the tracks is an alignment of large red oaks.

The authorities will only allow for one lane of traffic to be shut down, anything else would result in utter chaos. The net result of this, however, is that you have a constant stream of traffic underneath the tree as you are working aloft. In some instances, due to the canopy being so wide, you find yourself over the far, open lane – and sometimes even over the over-head power lines of the tram.

This is quite stressful, you are juggling many balls and trying to keep an eye on many factors… not to drop anything, the distance from the power lines – which was sufficient –, also, you do not want your climbing line to dangle down, neither over the power lines, nor over the road. That could obviously have pretty dire consequences. Imagine if your stopper knot got tangled in a passing vehicle… also, it is easy to underestimate how tiring constant noise can be.

In many ways, I was reflecting yesterday, this situation feels like it is the arborist’s equivalent of open heart surgery: working on a pumping hear or above flowing traffic both demand a high level of concentration – obviously not dropping anything is rather important…

The last tree I was on yesterday was so wide-spreading that it reached into the adjacent tree, so I ended up setting a V-rig between two anchors on the first tree and traversing across onto the second. On the return I was having to physically carry a bundle of rope on one arm to prevent it from falling down into the traffic and somehow manage the friction hitch with the other hand and in this fashion gingerly balance back in the direction of the stem.

Come end of the afternoon I was quite weary. More of the same today. No, my day job is not boring.