Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Blackcap by David Tipling/2020VISION

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

A day out in Finemere Wood with my band of volunteers is always a highlight of my week. Even more so at this time of year, as the wood dramatically bursts into life.

The bluebells, once again, were breathtakingly beautiful. This, together with a spectacular array of greater stitchwort, has created a floral sensation in the wood this past month. The ultimate delight has been the arrival of the cuckoo, once again returning to Finemere to breed.

But there are still tasks to be done, paths to be cleared and grassy areas to be cut, as we battle to keep the wood accessible. Brushcutters and rakes are out in force, and scythes are available for those who wish to play at Poldark.

Each volunteer finds their niche, and effortlessly and efficiently the work gets done.

The volume and diversity of birdsong in the wood is astonishing. In amongst the throng, the songs of two members of the warbler family can be heard.

The blackcap (Sylvia artricapilla) is greyish in colour; the male with a distinctive black cap (pictured at the top of the page) and the female with a chestnut cap. And the garden warbler (Sylvia borin) is plain and greyish with no distinctive markings.

Garden warbler

Garden warbler by Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

Both are summer visitors, although there are increasing numbers of blackcaps spending the winter in the UK. Both birds are to be found in woodland, or gardens and parks with plenty of bushes and trees; both birds have a diet of berries and insects, and both birds have the most exquisite, melodious, rich warbling song.

The blackcap is described as having a “fluting” song, singing in bursts of up to 30 seconds. The garden warbler is described as being “more mellow”, its song having less discrete song segments. For the novices amongst us, they are difficult to tell apart.

Cake breaks allow the volunteers to relax and wallow in the magic of the wood. Sitting under trees with cups of tea in hand, the warblers drown out our conversation. Tiny caterpillars shower down on to us from the canopy above, and the cares of everyday life seem a world away.

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

Email Charlotte for further information

Next Work Party Dates: Thursday 23 May, Thursday 13 June, Thursday 27 June, Thursday 11 July 9.30am-3pm.