WILD LIFE – NA­TURES WAY OF SAY­ING THANKS

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - If you would like to join Fine­mere Wood vol­un­teers, email char lot­tekar­mali@outlook.com. Their next meet­ing dates are June 23 and July 28, from 9.30am to 3pm.

Spring is com­ing in Fine­mere Wood, near Quain­ton. When the birds start to nest we must put away our lop­pers and saws, and al­low na­ture to take its course.

There has been plen­ti­ful, glo­ri­ous sun­shine over the re­cent weeks, coax­ing ten­der shoots from the ground. So too has it en­er­gised the vol­un­teers who have been clear­ing scrub and felling trees at an as­ton­ish­ingly fast rate.

Our last gath­er­ing in Fe­bru­ary saw us cre­at­ing another scal­lop, clear­ing a lay-by shaped area of scrub from along­side the track.

The wood­land edge is an ex­tremely im­por­tant habi­tat for so many in­ver­te­brates, plants and birds. By cut­ting scal­lops in ro­ta­tion along the rides, we can en­sure there is a rich mix of veg­e­ta­tion at many stages of growth and thus bio­di­ver­sity can be max­imised.

The power of the con­ser­va­tion volunteer never ceases to amaze me. It took just seven men and women to clear a 30m x 10m area of scrub in a day. Yet hard phys­i­cal labour in this mag­nif­i­cent wood is so nour­ish­ing to the soul: it stills the mind; it works the body and al­lows the beauty of the wilder­ness to cast its mag­i­cal spell.

IT’S March and we’ve com­pleted the work planned for the win­ter in record time, which means we start labour­ing on the me­dieval drovers track.

This is an on­go­ing pro­ject which gets at­ten­tion only if time al­lows, and it is a favourite of mine.

Fine­mere Wood was once part of the Royal Bern­wood For­est, where kings would hunt and drovers would graze their an­i­mals, way back in the 10th cen­tury. As we hack our way through the dense veg­e­ta­tion into this hid­den part of the wood, we imag­ine un­earthing se­crets from those times gone by.

Another large sec­tion of the track has been cleared; our stop­ping point this year a nat­u­ral clear­ing amidst a black­thorn thicket. Sun­light will flood this area al­low­ing seeds which have been ly­ing dor­mant in the ground for many years to burst into life. Prim­roses and vi­o­lets are al­ready tak­ing hold at the top of the track.

ALTHOUGH spring has ar­rived there are still out­lets for the vol­un­teers’ im­mea­sur­able en­ergy.

Many fences must be raised to pro­tect new growth from the res­i­dent deer; cul­verts must be built to man­age ex­ces­sive rain wa­ter; there will be rak­ing du­ties once the grassy rides have had their an­nual cut; and there will be time to re­flect upon our achieve­ments and revel in the re­sult­ing bounty of wildlife.

Mun­t­jac deer in­habit Fine­mere Wood. You might catch a glimpse of one in the dis­tance leap­ing grace­fully and nim­bly through the un­der­growth. But we don’t have to see them to know they are there as they leave many signs: dung, deer paths, foot­prints and couches where they have laid down.

The ar­eas cleared of scrub are ir­re­sistible to them; the suc­cu­lent new growth of ground flora is such a del­i­cacy. To al­low plants and flow­ers a chance to bloom fences are raised around th­ese ar­eas, and they have to be tall as deer can jump high!

In April the vol­un­teers be­gan con­struct­ing a fence at this year’s cop­pice coupe.

Their eyes shin­ing with glee as fenc­ing tools were brought out: heavy drivers for bang­ing in posts; weighty dig­ging im­ple­ments; and to make the task even more ex­cit­ing, a work plat­form on which to bal­ance, en­abling the worker to reach the top of the fence post.

And so it seems that the pres­ence of deer has its ben­e­fits, cre­at­ing en­joy­able and stim­u­lat­ing chal­lenges for Fine­mere’s work­force!

The back­drop to the day was a car­pet of blue­bells so as­ton­ish­ingly beau­ti­ful it took your breath away.

I am left won­der­ing how this spec­ta­cle of na­ture could ever be greater, and yet I know that with each pass­ing year this sight just be­comes even more mag­nif­i­cent.

To cel­e­brate Na­tional Vol­un­teer­ing Week, we're pub­lish­ing ex­tracts from re­cent blogs by Char­lotte Kar­mali, a volunteer with the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust

A sight to be­hold: Blue­bells and stitch­wort in Fine­mere Wood.

Burn­ing bright: Vol­un­teers see off win­ter with a rit­ual burn­ing of the spoils; a bon­fire built with such care and at­ten­tion it seems a shame to set light to it.

Cut­ting back: Char­lotte gets to grips with some black­thorn thicket.

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