Last year's female alder flowers have transformed into cones (strobiles). Seeds develop within the cones. See the catkins? They are the male flowers.
Terminal buds form at the end of a shoot. Lateral buds grow into branches, leaves, or flowers
Tree growth usually happens in spring and summer. While growing, the tree also produces its buds for next year. These buds remain dormant during the winter months, opening in the next spring. The buds contain miniature shoots, leaves, or flowers.
We are still in the freezing depths of January. Spring does not begin for a while.
Astronomical spring starts on 20th March, at the Vernal Equinox.
Meteorological spring, for us in the northern hemisphere, begins on the first day of March. This way of calculating the seasons separates the year into four periods of three months each.
The 'Phenological' method of determining when Spring begins, however, looks at when plants begin to flower, when hibernation ends, and when birds begin to nest.
Picture credit: Much Wenlock Tree Forum
It can sometimes be an effort to go out in this season, but once you are wrapped up, on a day like today, with blue sky, little wind, and no precipitation, it does wonders for your mood and well-being. Why not open the tree bud identification guide, (10 Common tree buds and how to identify them - My Nature Nook) and see which trees you can spot, with no helpful leaves to guide you!