Monday, May 5, 2014

Withymead Nature Reserve, 3rd May 2014

This was our first visit of the year to Withymead Nature Reserve (Anne Carpmael Trust) by the Thames near Goring. Although it is quite a long way from Abingdon we try to get there two or three times a year as it is one of our favourite places and there is always a variety of tasks to do. All the lift arrangements worked out well so we arrived in good time. Sonning Common Green Gym were also there plus the first Saturday of the month Withymead regulars including two young D of E award volunteers.

One of the tasks was erecting a post and rail fence and Robert, Kevin, Victor and Laura chose this.  The rest of us went off to do pond digging, lopping, nettle slashing and pulling up nettles by hand in the wild flower area so as not to damage the more desirable flowers. As you can see from the photos, the weather was wonderfully mild and sunny and the first half of the morning passed quickly. It was quite a luxury to have our tea and coffee at the picnic tables outside the study centre and it gave us a chance to chat to the other volunteers.

We had chosen a day that was just right for seeing the summer snowflake flowers, also known as Loddon lilies, in full bloom and before we started work again, a group of us made our way down through the garden to the riverside to enjoy the wonderful sight of endless sheets of these flowers growing in the flooded and marshy areas by the Thames. Withymead is probably the best place to see Loddon lilies, which are quite rare in this country and grow in only a few places in southern England.

Then it was back to work again and by the end of the morning we had achieved quite a lot. The wild flower area certainly looked better without the nettles. Nettles are good in moderation as they support some types of butterfly, but they are inclined to take over. Before leaving we talked to the Sonning Common volunteers about a joint session at Cothill Fen near Abingdon in July and we look forward to seeing them there.

Our thanks go to wardens Keith and Dorothy for welcoming us to Withymead and organising such a large group of volunteers of all ages so well. If you want to see more photos, they will be on the Withymead website within the next few days

Digging a pond with Sonning Common Green Gymmers

Slashing Nettles

Victor, Laura, Robert and Kevin building a fence

Pulling up nettles by hand

Enid and Petra enjoying a tea break in the sunshine

Acres of Loddon lilies

Viewing the Loddon Lilies (wellies essential!)

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