Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Autumn/Winter 2015 Programme

The new Abingdon Green Gym programme for Autumn/Winter 2015 has been published.  See below, or click HERE to view a larger-text PDF version (opens in new window).


Abrahams Wood, Boars Hill, 24th October 2015

This session saw us at Abraham's Wood, Boars Hill again. Despite the grey, drizzly weather, there was a good number of us, 15 in all.

Our tasks were to cut back the laurel and to dig up the bamboo, of which there is a large patch at the upper end of the wood. The strategy of digging a trench around the bamboo had been proposed, to stop the roots spreading any further, and a small team set to work doing this.

The rest of us went to tackle the laurel, of which there is a huge amount throughout the wood. Cut laurel has a nasty habit of taking root again, so it was important to pile it up in just a few areas close to the outer fence. By the time we had our tea break it had started to rain, but we were fairly sheltered in the wood. The ground was thick with autumn leaves, the holly already had bright berries and there was quite a variety of fungus around.

Towards the end of the session it was time to clear up the remainder of the laurel we had cut and the bamboo battlers had dug quite an impressive trench, though they and the tools were somewhat muddy. We set off up the hill, damp and weary but quite satisfied with our morning's work.

Friends of Radley Lakes Quiz
The day's activities were not over. Green Gymmers and friends fielded two teams at the Friends of Radley Lakes Quiz at Radley Village Hall.

Despite the question mistress being a Green Gym committee member, the teams, no doubt exhausted by their morning's work, only managed eighth place equal and tenth place out of eleven teams. However they enjoyed excellent food and even won a couple of raffle prizes.
-Eleanor

Tackling the laurel
Stacking up the laurel
Digging a trench around the bamboo
The trench
Tea break
Some interesting fungus

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Abbey Fishponds, 18th October 2015

This week's session was held at Abbey Fishponds, one of our regular haunts. A fifteen-strong green gym contingent turned out to join volnteer site warden Marjorie White as well as recently-appointed Earth Trust warden, Lucy who now manages the reserve.

Tasks on this occasion were to cut back and rake overgrown vegetation from the path margins, and to cut back and clear the prolific goat willow growth from some of the wetland areas.


In addition, a litter-pick was conducted.


October is a great time to visit the site owing to the lovely seasonal colours on display.  The temperature was also mild and the sun even made a brief appearance.

-Andrew


Spindle fruits
Margaret cutting back willow
Willow cleared by a wetland area
Teasel
The troops returning for the tea break
The view across the reserve
Refreshments are taken
Tea, coffee and conversation
Overgrown vegetation cleared from one of the paths

Monday, October 12, 2015

Cothill Fen, 10th October 2015

It was back to Cothill Fen on a mild, yet somewhat overcast autumnal morning. We were here to continue our operations on this wetland site.  

Working under the direction of Judy Webb as previously, we split into groups to variously rake up and stack cut reeds and trim back sprouting alder shoots from felled trees.  There was also some slashing to be done to re-instate the footpath around the site perimeter.

We were pleased to welcome two new members along, Philippa and Ben and along with the remainder of the group, we numbered fourteen. A decent enough assembly to achieve plenty.

Being October, there were many mushrooms and fungi to see. Indeed, the site has rather a honey fungus epidemic, very evident on this occasion. There were also many devil's bit scabious wild flowers apparent.  It is a joy to witness the fen throughout the seasons with something different on display on each visit.
-Andrew


The party assembles
Judy instructs
Lopper action
Honey fungus around a tree stump
Downed tools
A fine fungal display
Devil's bit scabious in flower
Kevin and James in the reedbed
The raked area
Honey fungus abound
Some of the fungi found on site

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Withymead Nature Reserve, 3rd October 2015

Twelve Green Gymmers joined a larger group of local volunteers at the Withymead Nature Reserve for this weekend's session.  

The reserve is the farthest-flung of our regular sites, but is well worth the long trip out.  It occupies a lovely spot close to Goring-on-Thames and sits alongside the river itself.  The session started a little later than our usual work parties, at 10am, giving us additional time to get there.

Upon arrival, we discovered that the usual car park was closed, meaning that some tricky manoeuvring was required along the narrow track to get to the alternative location.  Once this unexpected issue was dealt with, we met up with Withymead wardens Dorothy and Keith and were instructed on the morning's tasks.

Two separate jobs kept us busy from the off - the first group was involved in raking up grass outside the main house.  The grass had been removed by means of a rotorvator, before it was required to be transported to a compost heap.  The purpose of this was to develop areas of wildflower meadow in place of the current lawn.

The second activity was to deal with the removal of some recently felled willow trees close to the river.  Some of the brash and smaller sections of timber were taken straight to a bonfire for burning.  The fire had been lit prior to our arrival and was already well ablaze.

The larger logs were either transported to a wood pile for seasoning, later to be used for fuel or alternatively taken to an area close to the house.  These sections were to be incorporated into a sculpture that one of the Withymead volunteers had begun to fashion from a dead tree.

Refreshments were served in the property itself, although most of us decided to take our tea and coffee outside and bask in the warm autumnal sunshine! 

There was plenty of work to keep us busy right up to the end of the session at 1pm.  Indeed, with the reserve being as large as it is, regular work parties are required year-round to keep on top of all the many jobs.  No doubt we will return soon to offer further assistance.
-Andrew


Off to work...
Let the raking commence.
Choose your weapon.
Kevin sorting out the log pile.
A roaring bonfire.
Dieuwke at the compost heap.
Raking beside the main house.
Some of the volunteers taking time out.
Refreshments are served.
Another of the log piles.
Victor transporting some of the logs to the woodpile.
The beginnings of the tree scultpture.