Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Common spotted orchid and stitchwort at Finemere Wood by Charlotte Karmali

With volunteer work parties cancelled for the time being but lockdown restrictions easing, Charlotte Karmali, volunteer warden at Finemere Wood, tells of being able to return to her haven.

With the easing of the lockdown, Finemere Wood is once again accessible to me, and what a joy it has been to get back there.

The majestic common spotted orchids are coming into bloom along the main ride. Fairy-like lesser stitchwort, with its small, white, delicate flowers is abundant in the grassy areas of the site. Warblers, warble their hearts out, their songs exquisite.

Alas, there is still no sign of the Greater Avid Volunteer. Gatherings of this flock of woodland worker remain suspended for the time being. These social animals enjoy hard manual labour, gentle teasing, and regular exposure to wilderness, but they are an adaptable species and I believe are finding other ways to meet those needs.

social distance volunteering

Social distance volunteering at Finemere Wood by Charlotte Karmali

Staff and key volunteers, in small groups, are now able to carry out some essential tasks on BBOWT nature reserves. This week, Finemere benefitted from a bit of attention. Brushcutters and rakes were out, as a mere four of us set about to clear paths and cut targeted grassy areas.

The delight to be back in action could not be surpassed, but the absence of our fellow teammates was felt greatly.

Wood pigeon squabs by Charlotte Karmali

Wood pigeon squabs by Charlotte Karmali

The wood pigeon (Columba palumbus), can be seen anywhere, cities, gardens, and even in Finemere Wood. It is not everyone’s favourite bird, but is one that I have become more acquainted with recently, as a breeding pair chose to nest in a tree right outside my son’s bedroom window.

It was fascinating to watch the two chicks or “squabs” (named Amelia and Jemima Puddleduck by my two young nature-loving nieces), as they were fed, and as they grew, their every need tended to by both parents.

Pigeons are one of very few birds who feed their new hatches with crop-milk. Similar to mammalian milk, it is produced in their crop, a pouch in the throat. It is rare to see baby pigeons, as the young stay in the nest for up about 34 days, leaving when they are almost adult-sized. This gave me much time to watch their development, a perfect gift for lockdown.

And on that note, I must wind up this ramble with a fond farewell to a much-loved and long-standing volunteer, Andy Ogden. Andy, for over six years you have given much time, energy, and commitment to Finemere Wood, and your companionship has been greatly appreciated by all. You are one in a million and you will be missed.

If you would like to join Charlotte and the volunteers at Finemere Wood once all our volunteering activities are able to take place again, please contact Charlotte for more information.