Showing posts from 2013

Cothill Fen and Christmas Lunch at the Merry Miller, 14th December 2013

We gathered in the car park opposite the Merry Miller for our session at Cothill Fen, led by Dr Judy Webb. Once again, we were very lucky with the weather as it was fine and sunny. We walked along the footpath to the fen and Judy pointed out the new fencing that has been installed to keep the ponies in, which are being introduced early next year to graze the fen. We could not do our originally planned task of reed raking as they had not been cut so instead we set to work cutting back any vegetation that was encroaching on the fen and cutting back any shoots that were sprouting from the tree stumps. If trees and shrubs are allowed to grow on the fen, they will take over and the fen will become scrub, thus destroying the unique ecosystem of an alkaline fen. There were orange tapes tied to some of the stumps where rare plants were growing, such as a rare fern and a dark-leaved willow. During our tea break and sampled some of Robert's home made cinnamon biscuits and Judy

Abrahams Wood, Boars Hill, 7th December 2013

This Saturday's venue was Abrahams Wood, Boars Hill, on  Oxford Preservation Trust land. The site has become one of our favourites; not just for the lovely view over the dreaming spires of Oxford, but also due to the fact that being a smallish wood, a limited work force can achieve quite a lot in a morning's session. Our main effort is usually to keep down the non-indigenous plants that have invaded the area, allowing the light to get through so native shrubs such as hazel and holly can grow. Invasive bamboo and laurel have unfortunately become rather established in Abrahams Wood. However, if the laurel shrubs in particular can be tackled before they grow too big, they can be kept under control fairly easily.  It is possible to get a bow saw through their relatively soft limbs, and log habitat piles can then be created with the cut wood.  These piles also serve as a great indication of our efforts at the end of the day! It was pleasing to see that our prev

Stonehill House, 30th November 2013

On a fine, sunny Saturday morning eight of us met in the courtyard of Stonehill House, a lovely red brick manor house on the southern edge of Abingdon. The house, outbuildings and gardens are used as a Russian cultural centre as well as hosting projects such as theraputic gardening for people suffering from mental illness. Our task was to clear a footpath through the woods and remove tree guards from the various trees with which the fields had been extensively planted. We walked through the grounds and the woods into the field with the young trees. Three people stayed in the wood to clear the footpath and the rest of us set to work removing the tree guards, loading them into barrows and taking them to the top of the field to dump by the gate. We had had a pevious session removing the guards back in April and there still seemed to be hundreds left. The footpath rakers soon finished their task and came to join us. The field has several badger sets near the northern b

Southern Town Park, 23rd November 2013

It was a couple of months since our last session at Southern Town Park and since then, the onset of winter has become rather apparent.  Fortunately however, Saturday morning was relatively mild, in sharp contrast to the preceding week. We assembled as usual in the Football Club car park, and this time, we decided to focus our efforts on the area in the South-West of the park. We began the walk around the playing fields and across the newly-restored bridge to get there.  Once we had arrived and inspected the site, the most obvious task was to clear the wooded area of brambles and other climbing plants that had begun to choke the trees.  At the same time, a litter-pick was conducted, although the litter situation was not the worst we had seen. Despite being late in the year, the brambles were still thick and had managed to climb quite a height up and around the trunks of many of the trees.  It was difficult work cutting and removing them while trying to avoid entanglement with all th

A few more photos from last week's Geo Conservation session at Dry Sandford Pit...

Photos taken by Eleanor:

Geo Conservation, Dry Sandford Pit, 16th November 2013

This was our annual geo-conservation session, held with the Oxfordshire Geology Trust and led by Denise Dane.  This year, we were back at Dry Sandford Pit - a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) close to one of our usual work-sites, Cothill Fen.  As with the fen, it is managed by the local Wildlife Trust.  The Green Gym last visited the pit a few years ago to undertake similar work, so it was interesting for those who were in attendance last time to re-visit and for those of us who hadn't been to explore this interesting location.  A total of nine Green Gymmers turned up for the occasion. Having assembled our tools and safety equipment, we were led to the first of two exposed rock faces and given a brief introduction to the site by Denise, who was joined by two other Geology Trust volunteers.  It was explained how the area was once covered by a tropical sea and therefore we could expect to see the fossilised remains of corals and other marine life.  We were also informed t

Ock Valley Walk, Tesco End, 9th November 2013

That most unusual of  occurrences - a wet Saturday morning and a soggy Green Gym session!  No sooner had we assembled in the Davis Langdon car park, close to the Tesco superstore, than the heavens opened. It became apparent that our usual, somewhat unprecedented run of clement Saturday sessions had come to an abrupt end. No matter.  The Green Gym pride themselves on being a hardy bunch and a few splashes of rain were not going to stop us.  We gathered together our tools and ran the gauntlet of pedestrian crossings to get to the Ock path. As usual, negotiating motorists that seem unwilling to stop at these crossings in their hurry to get to the supermarket was an issue.  Thankfully we all made it safely and set up our base in the trees while pondering our next move. We only had six litter-picking tools and there were fourteen of us, so we split into pairs to collect litter with a couple of others setting off with saws and loppers to tackle troublesome overhanging tree branches that

Abbey Fishponds, 2nd November 2013

Following our stall at the Abingdon Eco Fair last Saturday, it was back to work this week at one of our most familiar haunts, Abbey Fishponds.  As usual, site warden Marjorie White was on hand to supervise our activities, ably assisted by regular fishponds volunteer, Pete.  We assembled as usual at the top of Hadland Road and we were pleased to welcome a new volunteer, Georgina, who had discovered us at the Eco Fair . An eclectic range of tasks were on offer as usual, with various groups dispatched across the site and engaged in tree clearance, path-laying and maintenance, general tidying-up and litter-picking.  The storms of the previous weekend had caused some tree damage and with the recent wet weather, the main path through the site had become somewhat waterlogged. Booted and suitably attired, we set about distributing a quantity of woodchip via wheelbarrow, from a pile at the Hadland Road end to the most worn and muddied sections of path while clearance of tree obstructions w