Apple Day 2021

It was a gloriously sunny day for the Friends of Bourne Wood Apple Day, held in the community orchard, off Beech Avenue on Sunday 10th October.

people at apple day
It was a gloriously sunny day for the Friends of Bourne Wood Apple Day,

Of course, the main draw of the day was the apple stall, with lots of varieties of apples on show and to take away for a donation.  Most of our trees have done very well this year, with some pears available too.

sunset apples for sale
Sunset eating apples for sale.

Carrying on the fruit theme, we had an orchard quiz for adults complied by our outgoing chairman, which was quite difficult, but we did have a winner, Chantel and Issac, won a copy of Richard Jefferson’s – ‘Jewels Beyond the Plough’ book.  People could also guess the weight of the bag of apples, and there was an orchard scavenger hunt for children, and a guess my name competition to win a knitted Town Crier, which was won by Susan Halsall.

A few more copies of Richard’s book were available, along with the Bourne Wood booklet and we had an information table about the group and orchard, where people could the group if they wished.

As always, tea and coffee and homemade cake were very popular with the steady stream of visitors, and those attending could sit in the sun and listen to Vaughan Roberts playing his fiddle while enjoying their refreshments.

Last but not least we had a plant stall for some locally grown plants – both the plant stall and apple stall remain in the orchard when open for the time being.

Thank you to all our wonderful volunteers who worked so hard to make the day a success.

Photographs by Steve Goddard


Fruits Of The Forest Foray 2021

A group of around 16 joined Willie McLaughlin, Wildlife Ranger, for a walk on a gloriously sunny afternoon on Sunday.  Willie had very kindly stepped in to lead the walk as Richard had already left for Cumbria.  The aim was to look for Fruits of the Wood – but as Willie reminded us it has been a dry year so berries and nuts are not so numerous as they might be.

Group People in Wood
Willie reminded us it has been a dry year so berries and nuts are not so numerous as they might be.

So, the group enjoyed the walk looking at plants and trees that could be used for a variety of things.  We started off with the glorious Beech Tree, the mast is not edible to humans but enjoyed by squirrels – however apparently the new young leaves can be used to flavour your gin!

We moved onto a more well-known fruit – the sloe – yes – sloe gin – but the flowers of the blackthorn also have medicinal purposes, as do the next couple of plants we stopped to look at – Hawthorn and Meadowsweet.

The well-known fruit – the sloe – yes – sloe gin!

However, black bryony having wonderfully red berries is poisonous to humans but much liked by birds!  The next-door Rosehips are full of vitamin C and can be made into a syrup to ward off colds.

Trees as well as providing shade and firewood, can also be used for making instruments and furniture.  We have some wild service trees in the wood and the berries of these can be made into jellies once bletted.

Our thanks go to Willie for an informative walk – making us think about Fruits in a different way!

Photographs by Steve Goddard

Chairman’s Farewell

So when and where did it all begin?

I was invited by the Friends of Bourne Woods to give a talk on Flowers of woodlands & meadows at the AGM in 2008 (I think). It was not long after that that the then Chair, David Sheppard, resigned as he was moving away from Bourne and I was elected to the Chairs position.

Over the last 12 years or so that I have been the Chair,the Friends have established the community orchard (I am one of 4 trustees) and continued to offer an annual programme of guided walks and events. Some events have ‘fallen by the wayside’ such as the Santa in the woods but other new events have become established such as the annual orchard open day and the annual Wassail in January in conjunction with the Bourne Borderers.

In addition to the administrative tasks associated with a Chairs role, I have led at least one guided walk every year (apart from 2020!) usually either a spring or summer wildflower walk plus a few fruits of the forest guided walks in autumn. In tandem with Dr Keith Porter,we established the summer Bug Hunt which we have now run for around 5 years. I have also drafted a couple of notes for the website on forestry operations (felling) and on the ecology of the wild service tree (the leaf is the Friends emblem) in addition to reports on the guided walks.

Over the years, I have given a number of talks on the wildlife of Bourne Woods to various local groups such as the U3A Garden Group, the Bourne Civic Society, the Bourne Trefoil Guild and the Royal British Legion. In 2016, I wrote a booklet with the help of several others entitled Bourne Wood – A portrayal of a wood in Kesteven which was published with financial support from the Forestry Commission. Sale of the booklet helps to raise funds for the Friends activities and maintenance of the community orchard.

And my last task, apart from writing this farewell, was to draft an orchard quiz which will be used at the Orchard event on 10th October!

I am moving to south Cumbria (BurtoninKendal) to join my partner Jane and hope to get involved with local wildlife and natural history groups in that area. I will be coming back to Lincolnshire on a regular basis to meet up with family and friends. In the interim, Sarah Roberts will become Acting Chair until the next AGM and thereafter we hope to find a permanent Chairperson!

I would like to thank all of the committee and other volunteers both past and present for making my tenure as Chair such an enjoyable experience. I hope the Friends will continue to thrive and carry on their excellent work for the benefit of the wood and thepeople of Bourne and surrounding areas.

Richard Jefferson

I, on behalf of the Committee and the Friends would like to thank Richard for all his hard work and support during his time as Chair.  As he reminds us he has done many other things in addition to his Chair’s role and his knowledge and experience will be missed.  We wish Richard every happiness in his new life in Cumbria.

Sarah Roberts

Nature Notes from Bourne Wood – May 2020

The sound was unmistakable. Clear and instantly recognisable both by myself but, I should think, to virtually all who could hear it. Not that you needed to be near as it spread through the still air across and through the wood. The sun was shining with blue sky above. It was a sound of spring. Despite all that is going on the cuckoo cuckooed as he sought to attract a mate. Fancy flying all the way from Africa and stopping in Bourne Woods, rather optimistically calling in case a female was within hearing distance. They say that in May they sing night and day- well this one was following the instructions as I heard in in the morning and the evening, depending on the timing of my daily outing. What spring sights and sounds have you witnessed? Swallows swooping, bluebells blossoming, tadpoles testing their tails? It is such a wonderful time of year and I do seem to have a few more hours to enjoy it. There we go- another silver lining! PS my dog is guilty of not following the social distancing recommendations- she still rushes up to meet her friends!

Nature Notes from Bourne Wood – April 2020

Although I regularly enjoy a walk in the wood- under the pretence of exercising my dog- I do not frequent it every day, other activities can get in the way! There can be gaps of a few days during which, at this time of year, loads can happen. For example, I was part of a group nature ramble in early March when, after the gales and rain of sequential storms, we were lucky to have bright sunshine, blue skies and not a breath of wind, ideal conditions for looking at the resident birds. I say resident as the summer visitors had not yet arrived so we enjoyed the singing tits, squeaking goldcrests and noisy nuthatches whilst overhead buzzards soared. We spotted a single flowering wood anemone poking through the leafy carpet covering the woodland floor. We did not hear or see a single chiff-chaff and yet, three days later, there were loads about, calling with their familiar ditty from high up in the trees. Down below there was a swathe of white flowers with purple tints announcing that the wood anemones were now out and ready to impress. It is a busy time of year with new arrivals and rapid growth. The level of birdsong goes up a notch every day- there is a mistle thrush who sings from the very top of a larch tree in the middle of the wood. His voice carries well from that vantage point whilst the song thrushes demonstrate their superior quality of sound from slightly lower branches. Before long they will be joined by the willow warblers and blackcaps providing a wonderful musical accompaniment to the spectacle of the bluebells. It really is a good time to be out. My dog is sure that there have been plenty of new whiffs and smells so she too is keen for another walk in our local woods.

Nature Notes from Bourne Wood – March 2020

The woods are rarely silent! At times there is the background roar of the wind as it buffets the tree-tops, sheltering us down below from the worst of the elements. As the inclement weather passes the birdsong re-ignites as the male great tits and blue tits compete to be the most noticeable by potential mates. Their songs remind us that spring is around the corner. If this year follows the pattern of all the other preceding years, they will soon be joined by the multiple calls of the summer migrants. As these arrive they fill the air with fancy warbles and trills which our native birds tend not bother with. I look forward to the symphony of bird music but there is some uncertainty and competitiveness- who will hear the first chiff-chaff? Will it be in early/mid or late March? Might it sing a different tune? – (unlikely after all these years!) Will there be a significant delay before the willow warblers are heard too? The anticipation adds to the pleasure! As they arrive we will say “goodbye” to the few winter visitors we have had to stay. Some years we have enjoyed hundreds if not thousands of siskin and redpolls but this winter they have hardly been seen. But right now it is not too late to check the woods to see if any are passing through. I need to grab my hat and coat in order to take the dog out to see for myself. She is always ready for a walk so she is prepared to go- look! …..she has her coat on already!

Photograph by The Wildlife Trust Richard Steel

Wassail Bourne Community Orchard 2020

The Friends of Bourne Wood, in conjunction with Bourne Borderers Morris, held their fourth Wassail in the community orchard in Bourne on Saturday.   A Wassail is a traditional custom to celebrate the apple harvest of last year, to reawaken the trees, and to encourage them to bear fruit this year.  The weather was very kind this year, and although windy was not particularly cold.  By  4.30pm a decent crowd of around 100 had gathered to join in the celebration – a delightful way to enliven a dull January day.  Everyone was welcomed to the event, and then Bourne Borderers commenced the proceedings with a traditional Morris dance.  Those attending were then offered a taste of either mulled cider or apple juice and some homemade cake, before everyone sung the ‘Apple Tree Wassail’.

The gathering then proceeded into the orchard, led by the Wassail Queen, aided admirably by the Wassail princess.   The trees in the orchard had been decorated with lots of fairy lights and looked lovely in the dusk, with the path down also lit.  The trees were blessed with cider, and toast was placed in the branches for the robins, the guardians of the orchard, by anyone wishing to take part, while the musicians continued to play.   The trees were wassailed, with the customary poem, followed by lots of noise, with everyone present banging pots and pans, and cheering!

Once back on the hard-standing the Borderers danced again, and all joined in the ‘Here we come a wassailing’.  The evening ended with the Mummers play – performed by the Borderers, and some final pieces of cake and a warm drink.

The Friends would like to thank everyone for supporting this event, and especially Bourne Borderers for their help and support, and all those who provided cakes and helped out on the day.

Nature Notes From Bourne Wood – February 2020

With bravado the intrepid travellers planned their usual monthly outing, ready to face ice, snow and January blizzards in order to be outside to admire nature’s wonders. However, as the morning of the meeting arrived, we realised that it would be more of a case of coping with mud and the puddles underfoot!

Above boot level the conditions were ideal- bright winter sunshine cascading through the trees with a blue sky above and no wind-perfect weather for enjoying the birds, trees and mosses. We set ourselves a possibly foolish target of seeing a tree-creeper, birds easily missed because they make little sound as they ascend the trunks looking for invertebrates and creepy- crawlies to eat. On entering the wood gate we were serenaded beautifully by a robin, singing in the sun from only a few feet away. Underneath his vantage point some hazel catkins were fully out, hanging like lamb’s tails, releasing their pollen to the air. We heard Jays calling from a distance – the unmusical sounds helped us to spot them through the branches. A little later we had splendid views of one as it fed at one of the Friends of Bourne Woods bird tables. There were plenty of blue tits, great tits and coal tits about, making delightful contact calls as they kept up with their friends as they looked for food. We spied woodpeckers (greater spotted) high in the tree tops though surprisingly they were not drumming that day, despite the good weather. Leaving the larger paths behind to follow some of the smaller tracks we soon found ourselves in a different world where badgers went about their business and the mosses grew undisturbed. Bluebells poked their first leaves through the carpet of fallen leaves. We thoroughly enjoyed the walk together, occasionally sharing tales of mutual interest. We decided over coffee later that it had been a good trip. And “did we see a tree-creeper?” you may ask……. Well we did!…. Indeed we saw two! They were relatively close so we had good views and were able to compare their colours and habits with a nuthatch which appeared on a neighbouring tree.

My dog would like to report that she had a good trip as well – indeed it was better than usual as the number in our group meant that she had plenty of fuss!

Nature Notes from Bourne Wood – January 2020

I do not know where time goes to nowadays! By the time you read this the shortest day will have passed and the daylength is getting longer- hooray! In the woods too the sunlight is becoming brighter and stronger especially when we have a break in the clouds. Most of the leaves have fallen so the canopy is less dense, allowing the sunbeams to shine on the lower levels. When the rays hit the tree trunks at an oblique angle one can wonder at the patterns of nature demonstrated by the ridges of the tree bark. The furrows of the ash and oak are deeper than those of the beech trees, helping us to distinguish between the species. Despite the loss of chlorophyll from the leaves, the colours of the wood remain vibrant with brilliant greens complimenting the remains of the autumnal browns, browns and coppers. The most verdant colour may be the mosses cloaking the bases of the tree trunks, often thicker on the northern side. Look closely and we can see the small spore forming growths which can look like golf clubs. The mosses appear to have a golden halo when backlit by the low winter sun, the soft thick blanket suitable for a bed for the fairies of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Elsewhere the ferns too are still looking very much alive. In the late spring I occasionally have difficulty differentiating bracken from fern but it is easier at this time of year. Although some of the bracken is still green it looks faded compared with the strong growth of the ferns which looks like suitable fodder for dinosaurs- as it probably was!

The birdsong is also becoming more apparent- nuthatches calling loudly as they go about their business whilst the ravens call from overhead as they prepare to nest- one of the earliest species to do so. The early bird may catch the worm whilst those looking for nesting sites may be best placed to choose the premium spots. My dog too is good at selecting places to rest in, her favourite being a spot in front of a fire spread out on a luxury carpet!

Nature Notes wishes all readers a happy and prosperous New Year, perhaps celebrated by a rewarding walk or trip to enjoy the wonderful natural sights to be enjoyed in our local woods!

Nature Notes from Bourne Wood – December 2019

We have had a lot of wet weather in recent weeks but between the showers we can enjoy the dry rain of the larch needles as they fall and cover the ground with a golden carpet. In the sunshine the colour is as rich as newly minted pirate’s pieces of eight, transforming the paths into magical avenues leading us to different lands of kings and dragons. Occasionally squirrels and Jays land on the branches and there is then a cascade adding to the layers underfoot. There can be a sense of quiet activity as the woodland creatures go about their business. At other times there are commotions when larger birds arrive such as the buzzards which have bred locally. They are such large birds with a wingspan approaching two metres one wonders how they fly between the trees so effortlessly. When seen close to they really are magnificent! When the sun is shining and the sky is blue it is a marvellous place to walk. However, when the light is fading and dusk falls, the atmosphere is subdued as silence descends on the wood. The birds which chattered to each other earlier as they passed through the trees settle down early. They like to be in their nooks and crannies which they share with their friends to keep warm. My dog likes to be in her bed too – but even better is stretched out on the rug in front of the fire -it is a tough life being a dog in our house!

Photograph by The Wildlife Trust Amy Lewis