If you live or work or visit a forest at the moment, tree pollen can pack quite a punch! For example, wild cherry is in blossom, the petals as white as the flurries of sleet and hail still sweeping the fell-tops and anthers packed with golden pollen. The first honey bees are venturing out to carry this from flower to flower in their search for nectar, and making sure that a crop of fruit develops in the summer.
More prolific still, the conifers are shedding their pollen for the wind to blow where it will to fertilise the young pine cones. Cars left in the car parks at Dodd and Whinlatter are covered in a fine golden dusting and after rain it is floating on all the drains and puddles in swirls and tide marks of bright yellow.
Necessary for plant reproduction, handy for honey bees, but for the susceptible the itchy eyes and sneezes are the same whether it is hay fever or tree fever!
For ospreys along with many other birds, and reptiles, irritation of the eyes due to pollen is a low risk. A ‘third eyelid’ or nictitating membrane sweeps their eyeballs, lubricating and protecting them from dust and foreign bodies. For a fish-catching bird it also cushions the impact of the water as they plunge in to grab their prey. Sadly, we humans only have the vestigial remains of this useful feature – It would seem a better solution than taking piriton all summer!