Barton Fields, 29th August 2021

For the final session of August 2021 (and therefore our summer programme), we attended the annual Barton Fields hay rake of the wildflower meadow. Those long-term members among us have been making the yearly pilgrimage to this popular site on the edge of Abingdon for well over a decade now. Usually we would be working under the supervision of warden David Guyoncourt, however David was away this time and it fell to his deputy, Graham to take charge, alongside Green Gym session leader Sally.

The site is managed by the Abingdon Naturalists' Society 'Green Team', with several of their members in attendance. Also helping out this time were some scouts from the 2nd Abingdon group.

Most of the hay had already been cut during the week (by tractor mower!) and the Green Team had already been busy raking the day before. There was still much hay to be raked and stacked though, and a small amount still to be cut, which was taken care of by Jim and his trusty scythe.

The rest of us split into two teams (curiously along gender lines!) with the male contingent pitchforking/dragging/lifting the large raked piles to the hefty stacks at the field edges, while the female members performed the second rake. This was to collect the residual hay that was left over from the initial pass.

Cutting and raking the wildflower meadow, as with other meadows elsewhere, is performed both to help disperse the wildflower seeds and also to remove the plant material and prevent it from decomposing in situ since wildflowers favour nutrient poor soil and thrive year on year following this protocol. This years' floral display had perhaps been the best ever, with some colourful remnants at the field edges providing the proof!

By break time, all the larger piles had been lifted, leaving just a surprisingly small amount of material to rake up across the site. Thus an extended break was enjoyed, including a visit from Joanna and Elly the dog - just in time to be presented (along with myself!) with a going-away card and gift voucher since we're off to pastures (and wildflower meadows?) anew shortly. Hopefully, anyway - any further session appearances will be faintly embarrassing now that the formal card presentation has occurred!

During the break, Graham also presented us with a snake - one of the grass snakes that call Barton Fields their home. Just a baby, but a handsome specimen indeed. Later he also produced a young toad. A highly biodiverse site!

The final post-break rake was quickly concluded and we finished a little early, and in the sunshine too! A lovely way to end this successful and enjoyable session.


Hay there...

Oh hay.

The Green Gym vs the Green Team.

The rakes' progress.

No hay.

Looking rather rakish.

Graham with the snake in his hand.

Elly taking centre stage at break time.

Hand-model Graham and toad.

Giant haystacks.

The one that got away - a cornflower at the field edge.


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