Flowers and Minibeasts Walk

The walk started well, as the leaders, Keith Porter and Richard Jefferson had been on a pre-amble and returned with a Purple Hairstreak – which although found in the wood is not something many of us had seen as they spend their lives right at the top of oak trees – so are difficult to spot!

Setting off; looking for flowers and minibeast!
Setting off; looking for flowers and minibeast!

We set off furnished with butterfly nets and sweep nets, which not only did the children enjoy – but the adults had great fun trying to catch butterflies and even more fun transferring them to the identification pots.

Identifying the latest catch!
Identifying the latest catch!

The star of the last years show returned this year – the Silver Washed Fritillary – a beautiful orange and brown butterfly, quite large and displaying perfectly for us to see.  Someone then caught a White Letter Hairstreak, which is not particularly common, and the young feed on Elm.  In addition we saw Brimstones (this year’s brood), Ringlets, Peacocks, Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns from the butterfly world – and then to top the afternoon off we caught a Brown Argus butterfly – recorded previously in the wood – but not seen before by those attending.

On closer inspection....
On closer inspection….

The bugs caught in the sweep nets included Shield Bugs, Lacewings, Soldier Beetles, 14 spot Ladybird, and a Bush Cricket, not to mention the large Spider!

Can you identify the butterfly?
Can you identify the butterfly?

With regard to flowers, we enjoyed the creeping Thistles which were full of butterflies, and this became obvious why when we smelt the flowers – just like honey!  The Angelica flowers were full of Hoverflies as they are easy for insects to get nectar from due to their open flowers.  We saw Ragwort – which although disliked by many is good for insects and home to the Cinnabar moth.  There was also St John’s Wort – used as a medicinal plant, Meadowsweet and Spear Thistle.

Our thanks go Keith and Richard for a lovely afternoon, the weather was exceptionally good, and the walk was very much enjoyed by the 20 or so people attending.

Photographs by Roland Smith.

Tree Identification Walk

The Friends of Bourne Wood held a Tree Identification Walk on a warm summer’s evening with the aim of helping people identify some of the common species found in the wood, along with some interesting facts and some of the more unusual trees.

The walk started by looking at the grand Beech trees at the five crossroads – with smooth bark these lovely trees have bright green leaves in the Spring and beautiful colours in the autumn.  After that we covered the common species of Wild Cherry, Ash, Aspen, Oak, Hazel, Blackthorn and Hawthorn amongst others.

We were told Ash had separate male and female trees, with only females having keys, how to recognise aspen with its rustling leaves, and the two different types of native Oak – English & Sessile.

Our less common species include the Wild Service tree, which is a good indicator of ancient woodland and was often used as a boundary tree, and has fruit which can be used for jams.  Also in the wood are a few small leaved lime, with distinctive flowers, the wood of which can be used for piano keys.

Around 20 people enjoyed this interesting walk, our thanks go to Mick Curtis and Richard Jefferson for leading the evening and answering all the questions.

Woodland Spring Wild Flower Walk

Around twenty people joined local botanist, Richard Jefferson, on a pleasant evening for a short guided walk to look at spring flowers.

Before setting off, Richard explained why Bourne Wood is so rich in wildflowers. This is due to its large size, variety of habitats (woodland, grassy rides, ponds) and soils and its long continuity as a wood – it is ancient woodland!

bugle wild flower
The sentry-like Bugle flower!

We encountered a wide range of plants including many of the classic woodland species such as the iconic Bluebell, Primrose, Greater Stitchwort, Bugle, Yellow Archangel, Dog’s Mercury and Wood Anemone. The creamy white flowers of Wild Strawberry were found on the grassy ride margins along with Cuckoo flower. Its name derives from the fact that its flowering coincides with the Cuckoo arriving in Britain. Cuckoo flower is also the food plant of the caterpillars of the Orange Tip butterfly, often seen in the wood.

wood anemone on wood floor
A carpet of Wood Anemone!

The highlight of the evening was the opportunity to look at the colony of the showy early Purple Orchid.

Easter Egg Trail

Around 240 children took part in our Easter Trail on Monday, accompanied by their parents or grandparents.  They all searched for hidden eggs along a trail in the wood, answering a quiz as they went.  The eggs were of different colours, and some had letters or names to look for in order to answer the questions on the quiz.

easter egg trail
Searching for Easter eggs in Bourne Wood.

There was also a wildlife quiz where they had to identify the animal or bird and then use a letter from each to find another animal.  Each child could then choose a small prize, whether or not they had all the correct answers!

stalls
There were tombola and bric-a-brac stalls; and there was also a craft stall and a plant stall.

Three Counties Dog Rescue had a tombola and bric-a-brac stall, and there was also a craft stall and a plant stall along with a chance to have refreshments after looking for all the clues.

The weather was very kind, leading to a very good turn out and the Friends of Bourne Wood are very pleased with the day.

Many thanks to all those that helped make the day possible.

Scavenging Day March

Our last scavenging day of the season was unfortunately hit with illness with several people cancelling on the day, however those that came were pleased with one lady saying ‘the trouble with collecting wood is that you do not know when to stop!’

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.  Collection was from the same place as earlier in the year as there remained plenty of wood.

wheelbarrow with wood in it
A barrow load of wood!

Most people had more than one barrowful.  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.

As yet we do have plans for a further event as it is dependant on the felling which takes place and the agreement with the Forestry Commission as to what deadwood can be removed.

Photograph by Chris Neal

Community Litter Pick with McDonalds

Our first joint litter pick with volunteers from McDonalds took place recently. A total of 14 pairs of helping hands collected more than eight bags of rubbish from the car park, the roadway down into the car park, the rides surrounding it, the easy access trails and the old car park.

As well as McDonalds rubbish, we collected a variety of other litter including cans, bottles, crisp packets and those persistent dog poo bags. In amongst the debris however was a huge fish head, various parts of a motorbike and a solitary sock!

Bags of litter collected on our first joint  'litter pick' with McDonalds!
Bags of litter collected on our first joint ‘litter pick’ with McDonalds!

McDonalds’ representative Sam Spencer helpfully offered to support another litter pick session later in spring and muck in with our events. We welcome this commitment wholeheartedly and urge all visitors to the Wood to please take litter home with you and ‘stick and flick’ that dog poo (never bag it and leave it). Much of the litter left behind does not disintegrate and can be a health hazard to humans and a danger to wildlife.

We love our Wood and want to do everything we can to keep it litter-free. If you would like to help support us in any way, please get in touch.

Words by Kate Starlling
Photographs by Sarah Roberts

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

Winter Bird Walk

The Friends held their first winter bird walk in the snow on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year, led by Vaughan Roberts.  As always a walk in the snow in the woods is quite magical.

We started in the car park looking at one of the bird tables with the feeders which are filled regularly by a team of volunteers from the Friends. A brightly coloured Jay was enjoying the nuts, as were Marsh Tits and Great Tits, and a Blackbird kept nipping in for some seed. While in the car park a Treecreeper disappeared behind a tree before flying off. We saw our Christmas Robin all fluffed up in a bush just before setting off.

While walking around some of the less used rides we came across a charm of Goldfinches in the top of a tree and whilst watching those, a herd of deer galloped past, including one of the white ones. We passed a second bird table on our way back which had a Nuthatch feeding from it and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker in a nearby tree. Of course we also saw regulars such as Woodpigeon, Crows, Magpies and Blue Tits.

Photographs by Jennifer Roberts

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

Helping to promote and look after Bourne Woods