Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Willow warbler singing in birch tree by Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

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

The sun always shines upon Finemere Wood on a volunteer day. That is, every volunteer work party day except for the latest one in June. But the volunteers turn up despite the persistent week-long rain.

Boots were tested for 'weatherproofness', and many failed at an early stage. Soggy socks at the start of the day is not a great feeling.

We scattered ourselves around the wood to work upon various projects. Some of us cutting and raking grass, once again, in the heart of the wood.


Here a mass of conifers once stood, planted by the Forestry Commission in the 1960s. Tens of thousands of these trees were clear felled nine years ago and the area left to regenerate naturally.

Now this young, open area of woodland and scrub boasts an increasingly diverse mix of vegetation, amongst it much birch and willow, and it is the perfect habitat for the willow warbler.

Willow warbler

Willow warbler by Bob Coyle

The willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) is a small bird; grey-green in colour with a yellowish throat and chest; similar in appearance, to the untrained eye, to the garden warbler and the chiffchaff.

This migratory bird visits the UK from April to September to breed, returning to Southern Africa for the winter months. It builds its nest close to the ground, feeds on insects and berries and, curiously, moults its feathers twice a year.

Blending seamlessly into its habitat, the willow warbler is hard to spot. Yet, like many warblers, it has a striking and powerful song: distinctive and melancholic, the song descends through a warbling minor scale. Have a listen: 

While the birds sing, the volunteers work. There are paths to be cleared and grass to be raked. There are culverts to be fixed and stone to be shovelled. This industrious group work their way through my long list of demands, and the rain falls relentlessly.

A day immersed in nature. Senses are heightened by extraordinary birdsong, wild weather and the spectacle of summer flowers. There is a constant murmuring from relaxed and contented volunteers. What better way to spend a rainy day?

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 27 June, Thursday 11 July, Thursday 25 July, Thursday 8 August, Thursday 22 August all 9.30am-3pm.