Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cothill Fen, 8th March 2014

Our second trip of the year to Cothill Fen and a bright and sunny March morning greeted us as we assembled in the usual car park, opposite the Merry Miller pub.  There was an impressive turnout of fifteen green gymmers, along with warden, Dr Judy Webb.  Tools and tea kit were unpacked and carried down the lane to the site where Judy assigned us our details for the session.

Our main task this time was to cut back tree growth (mainly willow) around the perimeter of the fen in order to enlarge the wetland area and allow more light through to the ground to create the necessary conditions for the fenland flora and fauna to flourish.  There was also the remainder of the cut reeds to rake up - something that had kept us occupied on our last visit, but which we had run out of time to complete.

A few trees had already been felled upon arrival.  Some by site workers, others by the weather.  The priority was to cut up and remove these, certainly the aforementioned willow before it was able to put down new roots and regenerate.  There were also some smaller trees to remove where possible, with the cuttings taken away and added to the dead hedge around the fen perimeter.  This hedge was the one we had initially created on a session here about a year ago.

Conditions were positively swampy underfoot, with care having to be taken not to get stuck.  Initially we tried not to get covered in the rather pungent mud, but this proved very difficult indeed!

During the course of our activities, a number of frogs and possibly a toad were spotted.  Judy added these sightings to her observation book, along with several rare plants that she had noted.  Interestingly, evidence of grass snake activity was also spotted.  A number of discarded egg shells from the previous season were found.  Perhaps on a visit later in the year we might be lucky enough to actually see one?

Refreshments were taken, with a small gap having been left in the dead hedge so that we could retain access to our tools and flask without having to take the long way around.  Some announcements were made of future activities at this time and the new Abingdon Green Gym promotional leaflet was premiered!

Tea and coffee taken, there was still much left to do.  In fact there is a never-ending cycle of tasks at this particular site.  It is great to see such clear progress being made here though - the fen is slowly being enlarged and the habitat being restored.  No doubt that we will be back again soon to carry on the good work.
-Andrew


Gathering in the car park

Receiving instructions from Judy

James gets sawing

Activities amongst the trees

Sally traverses the dead hedge with a little help from Carolyn and Dieuwke

Intermission

Margaret transports tree cuttings off to the dead hedge

Novelty coat hanger

Laura and Eleanor keeping busy

Victor and Kevin at the top end of the site

A log pile at the edge of the fen

the hedge

A common frog

The frog was determined to keep moving as I attempted to take a photograph

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