Monday, December 15, 2014

Cothill Fen, 13th December 2014

This was our final outing of the year and our second consecutive work party at Cothill Fen.  Once again, we were joined by Judy Webb from Natural England, who was directing our activities at the site.

Fifteen-strong, we met in the car park and unloaded the tools before beginning the fairly lengthy trek along the path to the Fen itself.  Upon arrival, Judy set out the morning's tasks, which were primarily to continue thinning the trees that have been encroaching upon the edges of the wetland habitat and also to add to the log path at the around the edge of the site perimeter - using the trunks of some of the felled trees.

Prior to commencing, Green Gym session leader Margaret gave a short presentation on the correct use of tools - namely loppers and saws.  This was mainly for the benefit of our new members, but served as a good refresher for the rest of us.

We set to work and despite the cold and frosty start to the morning, we soon warmed up.  Many small trees were removed and the branches were moved to existing brush piles at the edge of the woods.  Being winter, the sun was low on the horizon and particularly bright, adding an extra, challenging dimension to proceedings.  It was good to see the sun penetrating into the previously dense woodland, however.  This should allow many of the rare fenland plants to thrive in area where previously they struggled to get much light.

Significant progress was made throughout the morning, right up until the close of play.  Being the last session of the year, it was straight to the nearby pub afterwards, the Merry Miller, for our annual Christmas meal.  A great end to another successful year's Green Gym!
-Andrew



Off to work...

A frosty start on the fen

Getting started

Margaret demonstrates the correct use of loppers

Rihanna fells a tree

Tea-time!

Gathering together some logs for the path

Path construction underway

Woodland encroaching upon the fen

One of the fenland plants - Spurge Laurel

The tree boundary

Almost done!


Packing-up

The Christmas meal at the Merry Miller

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cothill Fen, 6 December 2014

About fifteen of us assembled at the Merry Miller Car Park near Cothill Fen Nature Reserve on Saturday 5 December. Our group included Erin and Rihanna from John Mason School who were working on their Physical Activity Section of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. 

It was a beautiful frosty morning, bright, sunny and cold. We were met by Judy Webb who explained our tasks for the morning and gave us a safety briefing. There were two main jobs; one was to improve an existing dirt path across a very boggy area by cutting up and laying down trunks and branches that had been felled previously.

The other job was dragging and stacking raked grass. Everyone worked very hard! Lots of pictures were taken by several people – they were so good we have shown most of them below in no particular order. It was a great morning!
-Barry


Dieuwke carrying a log.

Bagging the grass

Raking in the field

Kevin treading down logs for new path

Hauling the raked grass

Heaping up raked grass

More raking – it’s hard work!

A well-earned coffee break!

Margaret – it’s looking good!

Carolyn yet more raking

Kevin adding log to footpath

Toadstools and ivy on a stump – a great sight!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 29th November 2014

The weather turned fine and sunny after a night of heavy rain for our session at the town end of the Ock Path. The tasks were to inspect the young trees and clear around them, tidy up fallen branches and make habitat piles and pick up litter. We had decided not to renew the woodchip on the woodchip path at this stage as the area was quite likely to flood during the winter and wash away our good work, but to leave this task until the early spring. 

We split up into small groups for our various activities. There was a lot of litter at the Drayton Road end of the path, especially where a footpath cuts through from Ock Street to Drayton Road. Along the path and under the bridge is a notorious litter blackspot as people buy food and drink at the corner shop and discard the annoying and cumbersome packaging as they proceed homewards.

When teabreak time arrived, we had cleared around many of the young trees and found that most of them were in good condition. As well as the usual biscuits, Dieuwke had brought some delicious stollen, which we all enjoyed very much. We continued with our tidying and clearing work, finding a lot of untidy branches from felled trees, which we put into existing habitat piles. It was then time to gather up our tools and return to the car park, after which some people went on to participate in the delights of the Christmas extravaganza in the town centre.
-Eleanor



Barry and Enid set to work clearing round the young trees


Colin coppices a hazel





Teabreak


Petra tackles some branches

Kate adds to the habitat pile

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Frilford Heath Golf Club, 22nd November 2014

The Green Gym headed to Frilford Heath Golf Club for this Saturday's session.  As usual at this site, the main task was the raking and clearing of the Fen.

Once we had negotiated the Fairways of the Golf course with no mishaps, it was down to the Fen with a few quick instructions from site supervisor, Alison as to what needed doing.  The weather was cloudy with the odd shower - one which curtailed our Coffee break and made us get back to work.

Judy our fungi expert in residence collected many different types to show us, and these were in just the area we were working.

We also had some new faces Kate and Erin, who did some sterling work with the raking and clearing the reeds.

The Fen covers about the size of a football pitch and is obviously quite boggy but not quite to the same extent as one of our other regular worksites at Cothill. The first half of the session saw remarkable progress in clearing the reeds and after the revitalising Tea/Coffee break and biscuits we managed to all but complete the task, leaving about a 5th to finish off next time.

It was a hard mornings work so no one objected to us stopping 10 minutes early for Judy to show us the collection of Fungi with the most marvellous names and smells.
-Kevin



















Sunday, November 16, 2014

First Aid Course, 16th November 2014

Six Abingdon Green Gymmers today gave up their Sunday morning to do a First Aid course, run by St John Ambulance. We were joined by David from Abingdon Naturalists Green Team, Wendy from Wallingford Green Gym and Janet from Chipping Norton Green Gym. 

Our trainer, Beth ran a very lively and practical course. We learnt how to assess an unconscious casualty, practised putting each other in the recovery position and each did CPR on dummies. 

The course emphasised dealing with accidents likely to  occur in outdoor work, such as dealing with strains, sprains and eye injuries. We were given useful suggestions for things to add to our first aid kits. We were shown how to use a defibrillator, though I don't think we can afford one of these! 

It was a very interesting and useful morning and we are now qualified for another three years.
-Eleanor


Carolyn assesses unconscious casualty Kevin

Beth shows how to put Kate in the recovery position



Beth shows us how to do CPR