Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Charlotte Karmali brings the latest news from the volunteers at Finemere Wood.

“Finemere Wood simply wouldn’t sustain the populations of birds, invertebrates such as purple emperor, and impressive ride and meadow vegetation assemblages without the fantastic dedication of its resident work party.” 

The words of Pete Bray, BBOWT’s Reserves Officer for North Bucks, who nominated the Finemere team for this year’s volunteer awards.

And so a handful of us could be found at the BBOWT AGM this month, receiving an award for an “Outstanding Contribution”. It is uplifting to receive such recognition for the work we are doing in the wood and I, for one, feel so proud and so privileged to be involved in the care of this very special place.

Finemere Volunteer Work Party

Finemere Volunteer Work Party

But enough basking in glory; there is work to be done.

Two ponds way out on the adjacent meadows, near to the boundary of the reserve, have been the target for the exuberant volunteers. Once more they have their hands upon loppers and saws and the winter work of clearing back encroaching vegetation can begin.

These ponds have become enclosed by tall shrubs and trees, hidden from view for some time. By clearing back just a section right down to the water’s edge, sunlight will once again reach the pond and life can thrive.

Common toad

The common toad (Bufo bufo): olive-brown with a rough warty skin; short back legs; the females substantially bigger than the males, measuring 10-13cm long.

Ponds are an important habitat for toads, for this is where they come to breed in the spring. They have a strong migratory instinct, taking the same route back to the familial breeding pond year after year. For the rest of the year, they feed in hedgerows, woodlands, and grassy areas, before crawling under log piles or leaf litter to hunker down for the winter.

Toads are solitary and most active at night when they hunt for spiders and slugs. Larger toads will even dine upon small grass snakes, slow worms or harvest mice, swallowing their prey alive. It is said that a toad may live up to 40 years.

A day of hard graft and the areas around the ponds are transformed. Sunlight can now make its way to the water. From underneath a pile of cut branches, a toad emerges to view her new, improved habitat. She is just one of many species who will benefit from this work. 

Come and join the Finemere Wood volunteers. Everyone's welcome and no experience is necessary!

Contact Charlotte for further information

Next work party dates: Thursday 24 October; Thursday 14 November; Thursday 28 November; Thursday 12 December; 9.30 am-3 pm.


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