Monday, August 29, 2016

Barton Fields, 27th August 2016

This was our annual visit to Barton Fields to assist with the raking of the wildflower meadow.  The meadow covers a significant proportion of this nature reserve and is cut once a year - during the late summer, by a local farmer using a tractor mower.  We help David Guyoncourt and his 'Green Team' volunteers from the Abingdon Naturalists Society who manage the site.

The meadow had been cut on the previous Wednesday, with the Green Team beginning the raking operations on the Thursday and continuing into the Friday.  During this time, the hay had been raked into small, loose piles across the entire meadow in order to dry out, and some of these had been consolidated into larger piles at the field margins. Our task was to continue to transport the rakings away from the meadow to ensure that the ground is kept in optimum condition for the next season.

A good amount of Green Gymmers, numbering around fifteen, turned up for the occasion, assisting with a smaller number from David's group.  We assembled outside the Sophos building in Barton Lane, ready to transport tools and tea-kit to the work location. The weather was fine and dry, if a little overcast, unlike the previous day which had been hot and sunny.  Once assembled on-site, David briefed us on the task and we set to work.

The majority of us either pitchforked or transported the raked hay from the meadow to the larger piles using drag-bags or large sheets.  A smaller team raked-up residual hay, remaining on the ground after the main collection and some others conducted a litter-pick.

On the stroke of break-time at 11am, we completed the removal of all the hay to the larger piles. Good work indeed!

Following refreshments, we were mainly concerned with collecting up the residual hay, while some of the group changed task and went over to the Willow Carr area of the field to pull up some remaining Himalayan Balsam which had been spotted growing close to the Mill Stream.

During the raking operations, many common toads were spotted and some grass snake activity was also observed!  Throughout the actual mowing, the cutters had been set fairly high as to avoid disturbing wildlife, and this appeared to have been a success.

It was at around midday that extremely dark clouds of a threatening nature had begun forming in the vicinity! Sure enough, thunder and lightening quickly followed, along with some heavy rain.  We were forced to abandon our session early and transport our tools back to Barton Lane for a quick getaway! 

It had nevertheless been a successful morning and the main objectives achieved. Hopefully the weather will hold out for a little longer next time however!
-Andrew


Blue skies over the fields on the Friday
Meadow Cranesbill
The meadow pictured the end of Friday's session
Meeting at Barton Lane on Saturday morning
Hay being gathered by various means!
Common toad
Grass Snake
Keeping busy
Break time
The main raking operation complete!
A trio of Green-Gymmers plot their next move
Threatening skies are observed!
Rain starts falling
One of the larger hay piles around the edge of the meadow
Packing up early due to the heavy downpour!
Sheltering from the rain under the trees on the way home...

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