Monday, 25 August 2014

A year in the life ....

We visited Wytham again this week, to start a new project: scanning a single, isolated oak tree, as part of a documentary being made for the BBC by Paul Sen and his production company, The documentary will tell the story of a year in the life of an oak tree, through the changing seasons and faces of the English climate and landscape. Paul had picked Wytham as a possible location, before hearing of our work and getting in touch. He had selected a tree, and wanted to film us scanning it if possible, analysing the dat and showing the final results. So Andy and I visited on a slightly too windy, but very English later summer's day, to scan the tree. Our colleague Eric Casella from Forest Research (see earlier posts) also brought his Leica scanner so we can compare data.

The star of the show. Wytham oak, looking North, with Paul and Eric to lower right.
 You can see why Paul picked the location - a gentle valley leading down to Wytham Abbey (nee House), just west of the banks of the Thames just beyond, the dreaming spires (TM) of Oxford further to the East beyond Wytham Village, and the gently rolling Oxfordshire landscape stretching away in the distance. The tree itself is fairly large. not tall, but broad and squat, separated by 20 m or so from the edge of the main woods, and sitting in a large pasture that seems to be used for cattle grazing. We scanned the tree from 8 locations around the compass, with Paul and his colleagues filming while we worked, asking ys about what we were doing, and how the instruments and process worked. Paul also set up some DSLRs to collect time-lapse shots of us working around the tree (I guess we'll look like cumbersome wasps in the edit of that!). Over the coming months we will revisit the tree to scan it with the leaves off in the winter, and in spring during leaf emergence if possible. Paul and crew will be returning throughout the next year to follow the tree and the changing landscape of its home, as well as exploring the ecology and biology that goes into making the tree what it is. In the longer term, we're interested in scanning individual trees in greater detail to explore the relationship of structure and function, so this is a very useful focus for us and the TLS as well. A fun project for all of us and I'm really looking forward to seeing how the film turns out.
Panorama of the tree, looking South, with Wytham Abbey and Village to the lower left.