Despite the rain halfway through the competition those taking part in The Friends of Bourne Wood Den Building on Sunday, had an enjoyable afternoon.
The five families used leftover materials from the thinning to create dens deep within the wood, which were then covered with bracken. John Wilcockson, the leader of the event explained how to make the dens, suggested extras that could be added and reminded people that all of the family should fit in the den and that they should be waterproof!
The winning family was Eric Bower, Kat Walters and Rose and Ted Bower-Walters who had a removable door for their cosy den. The runners-up had two seats, a cooker and a bar, while one family included a dog kennel.
Due to the rain, everyone was keen to get into the dens at the end as it was much drier in there!
Thanks go to John for running the event and our helpers, Cindy, Brian and Valerie for helping to judge and look after those taking part.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
The highlight of the evening was the opportunity to look at the colony of the showy early Purple Orchid.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.