Abrahams Wood, Boars Hill, 8th April 2017

Glorious sunshine was arranged for our arrival at Boars Hill on Saturday.  Indeed, the conditions were more akin to summer than spring with leaves having appeared on many of the trees bordering Berkeley Road in the past week.  We met at the lay-by outside the Open University buildings on the aforementioned road and it is here that we were joined by Oxford Preservation Trust's (OPT) land officer, Rachel Sanderson who was to direct our tasks for the morning.

Fifteen Green Gymmers assembled, including Jessica Amy, a student from Brookes University who was along to participate and conduct a survey regarding our volunteering motivations.

We carried a large quantity of tools and the all-important tea kit across the road, through the newly-widened kissing gate and down the hill to the top gate of Abrahams Wood.  Before we entered, Rachel gave us a quick summary of our objectives, before taking us on a tour of the site and showing us the specific jobs that would keep us busy for the morning.

Following the recent Storm Doris, some trees had fallen or blocked paths or the woodland floor and required clearing. Elsewhere, there were large patches of laurel and if we had time, bamboo to clear.  It was with some surprise that bluebells had already begun to pop up, rather earlier than expected.  Along with wood anemones, primroses, wild garlic and daffodils, there was plenty of colour to enjoy.

We split into sub-groups and set to work.   The laurel clearance as usual here was our main focus.  We took care to cut and clear this invasive shrub as far as possible and stack the cuttings on elevated piles in order to limit the opportunity for it to put down new roots and re-grow.  At a later time, some OPT volunteers will be along to treat the laurel stumps with herbicide in an attempt to eliminate it and re-establish the native flora growth in areas where it has run rampant.

At the break we took our refreshments before Jessica Amy handed out some questionnaires and consent forms for us to complete.  She is studying Geography and Anthropology with this exercise forming part of her degree project.

Back to work and the air temperature kept rising to the extent that it was t-shirt weather!  21°C was recorded at the end of play, certainly the hottest session of the year so far.

We packed up having made good progress here and ascended the hill back to our vehicles.  We will be taking a break for a week now and will return after Easter, with Stonehill House the next venue.

Assembling on Berkeley Road

Rachel along with James outline our tasks for the morning.

A tour of the woods in the sunshine.

A gnarly old oak tree!

Some early bluebells.

A wood anenome.

Sally lops some laurel.

We complete Jessica Amy's questionnaires at the break.

Graham goes undercover while sawing up a fallen tree!

Graham, Michele and Kate hard at work.

Kate and Lydia add laurel to the dead hedge.

A hazel leaf in the sun.

Wild Garlic.

Margaret transports the tea kit back at the end of the session.

Back up the hill and home!


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