There are many challenges ahead for this seedling oak tree. A little shade from a faster growing neighbour, like a chestnut seedling, is no problem but if the neighbours take all the water and nutrients it’s a different matter.
A young oak can survive having its leaves nibbled by any number of different insects but one chomp from a hungry deer may be the end. Fortunately for the future of the forest, there are plenty of spare seedlings. One mature oak can drop up to 10,000 acorns in a productive year and though many of these will be eaten by wild boar, squirrels or jays, hundreds will germinate.
There’s no point in being sentimental about four leaves on a twig – it’s only natural that most of these seedlings will go to feed other species rather than growing into adult trees – but it’s hard not to see something heroic in survival against such enormous odds.