Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Gatekeeper butterfly on oxeye daisies by Amy Lewis

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.

Excitement is rippling through BBOWT's volunteer network as we count the sleeps until our workforce can be reunited in our wood of wonders. Tentative steps are being taken to reinstate work parties. Initially, small groups of six will meet and Covid-19 guidelines will be followed to ensure the safety of all.

Meanwhile, Finemere Wood continues to flourish. Every cloud has a silver lining, and rather than focusing upon the tasks at hand, I have spent many an hour wandering, watching, and really noticing the magic of the natural world. The butterflies have enthralled me this year.


Gatekeepers on ragwort by Charlotte Karmali

The gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus), a medium-sized orange and brown butterfly, has a characteristic pair of white pupils in the eyespots on its upper wings. Widespread throughout England and Wales, it is on the wing during July and August. This alluring creature will bask in the sun with its wings open, revealing its simple, natural charm.

I have seen gatekeepers in vast numbers this year, fluttering along hedgerows and field edges. The Finemere woodland rides provide an excellent habitat for these beauties, where long grass grows adjacent to shrubs and trees. Favourite nectars include ragwort, bramble, and wild marjoram, all of which can be found at Finemere.

Drovers track

Drovers track at Finemere Wood by Charlotte Karmali

The grassy drovers track, a medieval walkway into the wood, cleared of trees and shrubs by the volunteer team in recent years, must be cut once a year to keep the dominant plants in check. A special place for the woodland workers, who have spent many a happy day labouring on this project.

With just four of us tackling the cutting and raking of the waist-high grass this year, the task was much larger. How I missed all those willing rakers. But their return is imminent, and that day can’t come soon enough.

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.