Saturday, February 23, 2013

Kennington Memorial Field, 23rd February 2013

This Saturday we made our annual trip to Kennington Memorial Field to join up with some local volunteers there, working under the guidance of Alison Muldal from Natural England. 

We last met Alison a couple of weeks ago at Frilford Heath Golf Club.  Like today, on that session it was a particularly cold morning with some snow flurries, though this time it was thankfully a little drier underfoot.

The main tasks this week were to cut back overgrown vegetation in a couple of areas around the field, remove some low shrub growth in the grassy areas and to build a bonfire to burn the cuttings.

There was plenty to keep ourselves and the other volunteers busy throughout the morning and a roaring bonfire was soon underway.

For the tea break, we retired to the club house, quite a unique experience for the green gym, since we usually take our refreshments outside while struggling to keep warm.

Being such a cold day it was therefore most welcome!We continued with our hard work after the break, and had made good progress at the end of the session at 12:30pm at which time some of the Kennington volunteers carried on for a while longer.

the work begins
lopping some shrub growth
the bonfire is lit!

James busy removing cut vegetation
tea break at the club house
bramble and shrub cuttings

a roaring bonfire!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cothill Fen, 16th February 2013

Following the snow and freezing temperatures at Frilford last week, rather more pleasant conditions were observed as we assembled in the car park of the Merry Miller for another session at Cothill Fen this Saturday.  We had sought permission in advance to use the pub car park since our usual parking spot had been fenced-off with some construction works taking place there.

We were soon joined by BBOWT session leader, Nicole Clough, who outlined the morning's tasks.  Tools and kit were then carried down the lane to the work site where we established our base before being instructed by Nicole and carrying out the necessary risk assessments.

The eleven-strong team divided into sub-groups, some of us transporting the branches from the fen to the area where the hedge was to be laid, others building the hedge itself.  Some difficulties were initially encountered - namely that the ground was very boggy and difficult to traverse and perhaps most significantly that there was a small but fairly deep stream between fen and hedging site.  A temporary bridge of sorts had already been built across the stream and I was initially nominated to stand (rather precariously!) on the bridge as we formed a chain to move the material across.

A number of the piles were shifted before the tea-break - those nearest to the construction site, and the hedge had begun to take shape.

Following victuals, we shifted our emphasis to the tree cuttings further away, and for this we required a second bridge crossing and a few more hands to transport the material itself.  A big push was made to ensure that the majority of the piles were removed and the hedge finished. This we achieved just before the end of the session at 12:30pm.  

As it happened, there were a number of left-over cuttings after the hedge was in place and so these were used to create a number of habitat piles within the woodland.  A quick photo-session then occured, before we transported ourselves and our tools back to the Merry Miller, where a number of the group then enjoyed a hard-earned pub lunch!

photos by Ursula and Andrew:

tree stumps and cuttings

site of tree removal along the fen boundary

a makeshift bridge across the stream

hedge-laying begins

a section of the completed hedge

looking along the new hedge

base camp
the green gym team!

Nicole and team in post-hedge construction elation!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A few more photos from Frilford Golf Club

Here are a few more photos from our last session at Frilford Golf Club on February 9th - kindly provided by BBOWT session leader, Judy Webb.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Frilford Heath Golf Club, 9th February 2013

It seems as if I was a little premature with my reports of the good weather on Saturday mornings on the majority of the sessions during 2012 continuing into 2013.  As the green gym assembled in the car park of the Frilford Heath Golf Club, rain and sleet fell and waterproof jackets, trousers and wellies were determined to be essential attire.  

This was our first visit to this particular site.  We had planned to work here a few weeks previously - on 19th January, however, heavy snow led to that session being cancelled.

At the car park, we met with Alison and Judy, representing Natural England and BBOWT and directing the morning's work.  We were informed that the work site - a fen, was situated some distance to the north, and so we moved our cars around to another area of the golf club.  From here we unloaded our tools and began the trek to the site.  It turned out to be a 15-minute walk or so.  On the way, another fen area, designated as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) was pointed out, but we pressed on to a second fen beside the boundary house area of the golf club.

The area had recently been reclaimed from heavy woodland growth, with a number of pine and beech trees having been felled and reeds subsequently having been cut.  Our tasks therefore were to clear the area as far as possible of tree branches and rake the cut reeds.  Once work was underway, a water vole was spotted - good to see that the site is already fulfilling its intended purpose for increasing biodiversity.

The conditions were boggy underfoot as might be expected for a fen, but steady progress was made in raking and stacking the reeds - creating habitat piles and in clearing the tree branches.  A bonfire had been started so that the recovered wood could be burned, although due to the weather, a roaring fire it was not!

We had failed to bring any saws to the work site, however due to some of the large tree branches needing to be sawed into smaller sections one was certainly required.  James set off back to the car park to retrieve the necessary tools, only to lose his sense of direction on the golf course and get himself somewhat lost.  Once he did eventually return, the larger tree branches were cut up and the session concluded with a very visible improvement to the environment.  A worthwhile morning and everyone was glad to have made the effort to have braved the cold and wet conditions - even if the long walk back to the car park was a little tiring at the end.  At least no-one was struck by any rogue golf balls!

reed raking

the work site

the boundary house - a number of trees had recently been felled between the fen and house

Andrew strikes a pose

a smouldering bonfire


Lauren indicates our progress made during the morning

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Abbey Fishponds, 2nd February 2013

It would seem that the fine sunny weather, so often observed on Saturday mornings throughout 2012, has continued into 2013.  As the green gym assembled at Abbey Fishponds at 9:30am, there was barely a cloud in the sky.

At the Abbey Fishponds reserve, we continued with the tasks that have been ongoing over the past few years.  As always, under the direction of site warden, Marjorie White, we set out on a number of activities to assist with the upkeep of this lovely area.  The green gym splintered into several groups each taking on a different job.

Firstly, there was some raking of recently cut reeds to attend to. Also, coppicing of hazel and the weaving of this hazel into some existing fences around the perimeter of the site that required some restoration.  Furthermore some vegetation around the paths required clearing and litter picking was also carried out.

A good turnout ensured that steady progress was made on all the tasks and no doubt we shall return in a few weeks to carry on where we left off.

Kate and Ursula beside their section of restored fence as James and Kevin disappear with the tools!

restored fence

some of the coppiced hazel

site of the reed-raking

Eleanor mid litter-pick

homeward bound


As has become quite the annual tradition, some of the green gym ladies have been busy making marmalade. This excellent-quality preserve will shortly be on sale for £2.50 a jar.

The marmalade production line l-r: Margaret, Eleanor, Ursula, Carolyn and Kate