Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Volunteers at Finemere Wood Charlotte Karmali

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

Finemere Wood is eerily quiet as a skeleton team of three volunteers meet to tackle the time-critical work of the season. The regular volunteer work parties are unlikely to recommence before the latter part of September. Many staff members have been furloughed, and much work is needed to develop Covid-safe working practices before valuable volunteers can return.

Over the winter, a vast area of trees and scrub was cleared by the tireless woodland workers. This area needs to be fenced in, to protect the sumptuous new growth from the nibblings of deer.

There are two challenges here. Firstly, it would take days, if not weeks, to achieve this with only three people. Secondly, banging in the posts requires two people to get far closer together than two metres. And so Pete (BBOWT’s North Buckinghamshire Reserves Officer), our sage, has an ingenious plan. We shall fence in just a section, using ropes tied between trees from which to hang the netting, no fence posts required.

It’s a nifty job and the result is pleasing. As time goes by, the fenced area can be compared to the unfenced area. This will give an indication as to the extent of deer pressure on the woodland plants.

Buzzard

Buzzard by Amy Lewis

A buzzard (Buteo buteo), perches upon a conifer branch nearby, observing us as we take a break. Large and brown with a wingspan of over a metre, its beak is hooked and its talons are razor-sharp.

Today, these magnificent birds can be spotted widely throughout the United Kingdom. Their numbers have quadrupled since the 1970s, after decades of persecution by gamekeepers and the adverse effects of organochlorine pesticides. A varied diet, including carrion, invertebrates, rodents, and birds, allows the buzzard to live in a range of habitats.

Pairing for life, they build their large nest in woodland and decorate it with fresh, green vegetation. I often see a pair of buzzards soaring effortlessly over Finemere Wood. To see one so close was a highlight of the day.

The volunteers may not be able to work just now, but we meet in small groups to drink tea, laugh at lockdown hairstyles, and soak up the atmosphere in our special place. One day soon those loppers and saws will be out again.

Note: The Quainton to Edgcott road is closed temporarily due to HS2 works. Please see the reserve webpage for information regarding access to Finemere Wood.

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.