All posts by FOBW

Scavenging Day January

Our first scavenging day of the season was very well attended with 14 people coming to collect wood.

The format remained the same with people bringing their own wheelbarrows and borrowing saws to collect the wood from the previously felled trees – which was mostly ash.

martin cutting wood
Martin cutting wood.

Collection was slightly easier this time as the access tracks were all well maintained paths, and not so far from the car park and there was plenty of wood.

Several people had more than one barrowful;  in fact the energetic people had 3 barrowloads!  It was a very successful day, which those taking part thoroughly enjoyed.

It is a good way to enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise while finding some reasonably priced wood.  The days are always popular with a regular clientele.

Photographs by Chris Neal

Living Willow Sculpture 2014 Maintenance

Part tree, part artwork, our living willow sculpture received a welcome maintenance session this week. Originally called ‘Shelter Skelter’, the sculpture was created by landscape artist Clare Wilks and has provided interest to visitors for more than twenty years.

Most of the long rods formed over the last 12 months were removed and replanted to create new sculptural borders or ‘fedging’ – the term used to describe living willow borders (literally a cross between ‘hedge’ and ‘fencing’). The once-lost central section was replanted too with the aim of recreating the original inner circle.

Flexible willow rods easily take root and can produce fresh leaf growth as early as late spring. Take a look yourself; aim east and north from the car park and you’ll find the sculpture situated on the side of the main path just past Diana’s Glade.

Words and photographs by Kate Starlling

Fungus Foray With Dr Vin Fleming

Armed with bags, baskets and buckets of enthusiasm, a large group of foragers set out on Sunday keen to delve into the dark and often mysterious world of fungi. A lovely sunny afternoon greeted us and under the expert guidance of Dr Vin Fleming, we set off through the autumn undergrowth.

Dr Fleming began by setting younger foragers the challenge of finding the biggest and brightest fungi, but I think it fair to say that a general sense of competition ran through the entire group as parents, grand-parents, aunts and uncles set their sights on searching out the most spectacular of the fungus world.

And we weren’t disappointed. From creamy Giant Funnel Caps to the tiny but brilliantly green Parrot Waxcap and the delicate almost translucent parasol of the Pleated Ink Cap, around 40 species were found by more than 50 foragers in less than an hour – a spectacular result and a surprise for many to learn just what tiny treasures grow beneath our feet.

Dr Fleming regaled us with tales of shamanic rituals involving the striking but psychoactive red and white Amanita Muscaria – more commonly known as Fly Agaric. He demonstrated how the humble Puffball cleverly disperses its spores in the wind, and on our behalf he tasted the milk from an innocuous looking Lactarius Milk Cap only to report the flavour not dissimilar to battery acid.

On the subject of taste, the most common question posed to our expert was perhaps unsurprisingly: “Is it edible?” Dr Fleming was at pains to point out that eating fungi other than those bought at a supermarket is something best left to the highly trained, despite the temptations of a seemingly endless supply of free food.

But if we couldn’t eat them, we could definitely smell them and much joy was had discovering their perfume; from the pleasant essence of aniseed and cinnamon, to the less agreeable whiff of old laundry and raw potatoes. And for those able to identify the smell, it was reported that the odours of disused lift shafts, Russian leather and even bed bugs are not unusual bouquets to find among the fungi family!

This was a highly enjoyable, entertaining and educational event. As one young forager said: “I really loved it, next time I come to the Woods, I’ll be looking down at the ground as well as all around me!”

Words by Kate Starlling
Photographs by Esme Redshaw

Bourne Woods Needs You!

Bourne Woods Group set sights on achieving 500 volunteers by February 2015!

Did you know your local Woods are over 1,000 years old and once stretched as far as Northamptonshire? In 1086 the Woods were owned by Oger the Breton, a French knight with pots of money and bags of influence (despite sounding like a character from a children’s movie).

These days, the Woods are owned by the Forestry Commission and promoted by The Friends of Bourne Wood – a local community group with pots of enthusiasm and bags of energy, but in need of volunteers!

That’s why the Friends Group has identified a target of achieving 500 volunteers on their books by February 2015 and is actively seeking support from the local community. Group Secretary Sarah Roberts explains: “We were really disappointed to have to cancel our popular Santa in the Woods event this year, but we just can’t put these events on if we don’t have enough people to help on the day.

“What we’re looking for are people who are prepared to offer a few hours of their time just to help out at events. This could be anything from physical help putting up a marquee and lifting tables, to running stalls and guiding visitors. Our plan is to operate a rota system so volunteers will only need to help for a few hours on the day.”

The next major event in the Group’s calendar is an Easter activities day on 6th April with a trail through the Woods and other attractions currently in planning. If you can help and commit a few hours of your time for this and other events, you’ll be securing the future of the Woods and ensuring local residents continue to enjoy one of our most precious resources.

If you would like to put your name down and volunteer, please complete the form on our contact us page. And if you’re still not sure, take a look at the Q&A put together by the Friends of Bourne Wood.

A final word from Sarah Roberts: “We have lots of ideas for events next year but are always delighted to receive suggestions, donations and offers of support in addition to volunteers. If you run or work for a local business and can contribute to our community events in other ways, please get in touch. We look forward to welcoming you as a Friend of Bourne Woods!”

Friends 500 Q&A

Are you building an army? Why do you need so many people?

Our main focus is to create a ‘pool’ of people who we can call on to help us run our major events. Believe it or not, some events need up to 50 volunteers to run smoothly and sometimes we have to cancel popular activities (like this year’s Santa in the Woods) because we just don’t have enough people to call on. There are currently around 100 Friends in the Group, but experience tells us we need to register many more to stand a chance of staffing major events. This is because our events tend to coincide with holiday periods, so the more people we have to call on, the greater chance we have of staging popular events.

How much time do I need to dedicate as an event volunteer?

Our major events can run for a whole day or half a day, but we aim to split the time into slots for volunteers, so we won’t need to ask you to do more than two or three hours. Events are nearly always at weekends or bank holidays.

What kind of work will I be doing?

It depends on the event, but we need strong people to help erect the marquee and carry things, people to run craft and food stalls for example, people to direct visitors, and people to help set up and clear away anything related to the event.

What happens if it rains?

We’ll carry on and hope the sun comes out! It’s a good idea to bring waterproofs and wellies just in case.

Will I get paid?

No, I’m afraid not. The Friends of Bourne Wood is an entirely voluntary group with no funding for wages. However, we can guarantee you’ll leave feeling as though you’ve contributed to something valuable, and you’ll have enjoyed yourself and met new people too.

Why do you need to run events in the first place?

We believe our events help encourage people to come into the Woods who might otherwise not use them. It’s our way of promoting the Woods as widely as possible and raising much-needed funds. We are a non-profit group, so any money we make from events goes straight back into projects and other events in the Woods.

What’s so special about the Woods?

Bourne Woods is an ancient site full of important flora and fauna. In the UK, about 10% of our landscape is made up of wooded areas; this is much less than the European average of 44% so it’s important to protect what we have left. The Woods are home to a huge range of insects, animals, trees, plants and wild flowers and now houses a community orchard of over 70 mixed fruit trees. Woodland benefits everyone in terms of health, education, recreation and conservation and we are lucky in Bourne to have such an accessible and beautiful wooded area on our doorstep.

How old do I have to be to volunteer?

The minimum age is 18, but we’re happy to discuss school or college volunteer projects on an individual basis

No Santa In Bourne Wood

The Friends of Bourne Wood would like to confirm that they are unable to hold the Santa in Bourne wood event this year. It is with deep regret that this decision has been made, but due to the lack of volunteers in previous years and the number of volunteers required to make the event run smoothly, this difficult decision has been made.

If in subsequent years sufficient volunteers are found then this will be reconsidered.

Apologies for any disappointment, and if you would like to offer to help in future years then please contact the Friends’.


Bug Hunt In Bourne Woods

We had a lovely sunny summer afternoon for our bug hunt. The event started with John Creedy showing us his moth trap from his garden the previous evening, and explaining to the children (and adults) how the trap worked, and the differences between moths and butterflies. He then let the children handle the moths, a huge poplar Hawk moth, an Orange Underwing and a Buff Ermine to name but a few.

From there Jon Webb hand out some nets to those present, butterfly nets to catch flying insects, sweep nets to brush over the vegetation to catch small bugs. The children (and their parents) then had great fun trying to catch butterflies and even more fun putting them in the pots provided!

We then wandered along with people catching bugs and taking them to the various experts to identify. There were numerous Ringlet butterflies, a few large Skippers, a White Admiral, a lovely Longhorn beetle, an Oak Bush cricket nymph (with really long feelers), and a Flea beetle to name just a few that we caught.

silver washed fritallary
Silver-Washed Fritillary (Argynnis Paphia) a rare sighting!

The highlight for me was the Silver Washed Fritillary though, caught after a prolonged chase I believe but absolutely stunning and something I had not seen previously in the wood, we all waited patiently until Keith Porter returned to identify it!

Thank you to Keith, John , Jon and Richard for a very entertaining and informative afternoon which I hope can be repeated.

Photo courtesy of UK Butterflies


Identify Wild Flowers And Berries With Naturetale App

Do you want help identifying wild flowers and berries? Friends Chairman Richard Jefferson has helped develop a new mobile phone app to help people enjoy plants more. Working with a friend he has produced the Naturetale App. This enables people to identify the wild flowers and berries you are likely to encounter on a country walk. Continue reading Identify Wild Flowers And Berries With Naturetale App