Monday, October 22, 2012

Cothill Fen, 20th October 2012

Saturday, October 20th was a lovely autumn day.  We were a large work party that walked from the car park down the woodland path to Cothill Fen.  The Welsh ponies introduced by Natural England, who manage the site, appeared out of the mist to greet us over the stile.  They help keep the fen open, grazing down the reeds and not minding the very boggy conditions.  We had rather more trouble staying upright among the sedge clumps than the surefooted ponies.  The uneven clumps were surrounded by even more water than usual.  We were to rake up and stack the reeds that had been cut earlier.  This encourages the beautiful marshy plants like meadow sweet, marsh helleborines, marsh thistle, black bogrush, sedge, hemp agrimony and many more to seed and spread in the right conditions.

Some of us cut down the encroaching scrub and small trees at the edge of the fen.  Judy, who represents Natural England, showed us many species of fungi that she picked up in and around the fen.  Their colours are truly astonishing.  From purest white through every shade of yellow and brown to bubblegum pink.  I particularly like the purple deceiver.

It was a lovely morning, the sun burnt through the mist, and insects buzzed and a curious Robin checked out our work, no doubt looking for the green caterpillar that decided to hide in our tool bag.
-Ursula


Welsh Pony greeting the group at the stile
several species of fungi


purple deceiver

boggy conditions at Cothill Fen


Abrahams Wood, Boars Hill, 13th October 2012

This was our first session back at Boars Hill for some months. We have always enjoyed coming here, and on this cold, but unexpectedly fine morning ,before proceeding down to the wood we could admire the splendid view over Oxford, just as Matthew Arnold would have done 150 years ago.

The site is owned by the Oxford Preservation Trust and managed by BBOWT and we were to meet a new leader Andy Gunn, who would direct the morning's tasks. The main task was cutting down laurel bushes, which grow all over the wood. The wood was once part of a private garden and was donated to the OPT and this is the reason for the large amount of laurel. The idea is eventually to return the wood to a more natural state. There was also an opportunity to coppice the hazels and put aside the straightest branches for future use.

We had just got back to work after our tea break when Eluned, from the Oxford Preservation Trust, arrived bringing delicious cookies and we had no objection to a further snack. Shortly before our session finished, there was a sudden sharp shower, and we were glad to be under the shelter of the trees. 

We arranged to return in four weeks time to carry on the work by ourselves. This extra session came at just the right time as our two scheduled sessions at Caldecott School had been unexpectedly cancelled .
-Eleanor

James coppicing hazel
Cutting laurel
 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Abbey Fishponds, 6th October 2012

As has been the case in recent weeks, a bright and surprisingly warm and sunny Saturday morning session followed a thoroughly wet and miserable Friday.  This resulted in good working conditions for our team of volunteers, if not a little soggy underfoot.

As usual at Abbey Fishponds, we worked under the direction of site warden, Marjorie White.  The main tasks were to re-lay the woodchip footpath through the nature reserve (which had been largely washed away due to heavy rainfall since our previous path-laying session here), to cut back some overgrown vegetation around the path margins, and litter-pick.  Members of separate Abbey Fishponds volunteer group were also involved in draining some of the wettest areas along the length of the path and reed cutting and raking.

A good turnout and hard work throughout the morning ensured that good progress was made on all tasks and we will likely be back to the Fishponds site in a couple of months to carry on the good work.
-Andrew

Volunteers on the mound

the litter situation

Andrew gets digging

path construction

a completed section of path




path drainage