The lull before Storm Brendon. Sporadic sunshine and a meander around Roseberry Common. This small tree full of brightly coloured red berries stood out amongst the muted browns and greens of the winter foliage. Berries bigger and redder than haws, not a rowan. Whereas birds have been almost stripped the neighbouring rowans and hawthorns bare of berries, these are conspicuously untouched. Thornless, with small leaves, smooth, and elliptical; a few remaining. Family opinion is that it’s a cotoneaster, but hardly the native British variety which is limited to the limestone cliffs of Great Ormes Head in North Wales. More likely it is one of the 80 odd varieties of the introduced Himalayan cotoneaster, an escapee from someone’s garden.
Which begs the question, how did it get onto Roseberry Common? The likely answer is by dispersal of the seed in the droppings of a bird, cotoneaster’s red berries are considered as being highly attractive to blackbirds and thrushes. I must admit to not noticing many blackbirds and thrushes this high on the Common (about 220m asl), they seem to prefer the shelter of woods and hedgerows. Perhaps the birds of the Common are more discerning.
Of course, any suggestion other than a cotoneaster would be appreciated.