Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Withymead Nature Reserve, 14th September 2013

The weather was damp, drizzly and chilly as just nine Green Gymmers turned out for the session at Withymead Nature Reserve near Goring, including Robert Wilson, who had gallantly cycled from Didcot. It was quite a contrast to our previous visits, which had given us sunny skies and picnic conditions.

The main task was to rake up the reeds from the reed bed, which was being cut with the mower. The wardens, Keith and Dorothy aim to cut the reed beds in a four year rotation. There was a lot of dead wood which needed picking up and we had to slash some of the reeds by hand in order to locate it. The task was made more difficult by the fact that the reeds had been flattened by the heavy rain the previous night. We put the cut reeds and smaller wood into builders' rubble bags and dragged them across the bridge and up to the bonfire site.

Margaret, our resident pyromaniac, volunteered to take charge of the bonfire and amazingly, considering the damp conditions, managed to light it and keep it going. She was rewarded by having a nice, warm job without too much tramping to and fro dragging rubble bags.

We were glad to stop for our coffee break and were joined by two Sonning Common members, who are regular workers at the reserve and two young volunteers who had been helping to repair a fence. We also had the luxury of plastic picnic chairs to sit on.

It was back to work afterwards for the last forty five minutes. We had made some obvious progress on the reed bed, though there was still a lot more to be done. I think this session showed that Green Gym gets out there whatever the weather.

Starting work on the reed bed

Lesley and Colin slashing and raking

Margaret hauling a bag across the bridge

Margaret tending the bonfire

Preparing to get back to work

Dorothy and Keith with two young volunteers

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