Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 26th April 2014

The main activity of the morning was to complete a bit more of the path around the Ock River walk island – shovels and wheelbarrows at the ready.  A team of four got to grips with this, taking woodchips from the pile and spreading them thickly over the muddy path to better the surface for the many walkers that use it.
Alongside this, Tanya and Laura cleared a foot of space around our newly planted trees to give them a chance of getting some daylight once the nettles grow up above them.  Robert provided a lesson in tool sharpening along the way. James continued in the mission to clear up driftwood from the recent floods further down the path, where a robin came to join him! Also, as usual a litter pick was conducted – Enid went along the whole length of the path up to Drayton Road and found three bags full of rubbish to collect.
After the well earned tea break I found out that our great friend Himalyan Balsam has once again sprouted up - in the tree planted area – there is loads of it here now and it is already six inches tall, some with very thick roots….! So a few of us pulled up as much as we could after tea break while the rest continued with the woodchip path. Quite a good heap of mini plants was present by the end of the session!
- Margaret
Tanya amongst the trees and nettles

a robin observing proceedings

Laura and Robert

Dieuwke with a wheelbarrow of woodchip

Colin and Victor

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 12th April 2014

This Saturday, we were back at one of our most frequented sites - the town end of the Ock path.  Last time we were here, it was to plant a number of trees.  Thus for this session, one of our primary objectives was to check upon the progress of said saplings, as well as to maintain the woodchip path, also to clear a number of weeds and invasive sycamore growth, and not forgetting the obligatory litter pick!

It was perhaps our largest turnout of the year thus far - 17 of us, 18 if we include baby Charlie, our youngest member!  With such a significant number, we were able to allocate several volunteers to each task and to make a good amount of progress on each.

Upon arrival, having transported our tools from the meeting point by the weir to the work area, the first job was to erect the new sign/leaflet holder that Robert had constructed.  Very impressive it is too, it took pride of place beside the start of the woodchip path, alerting passers-by to our presence and advertising our activities.  Next, we received instruction from session leader, Sally and subsequently set about working.

Unfortunately we only had a single wheelbarrow, so that our ability to transport woodchip from the piles at either end of the path for distribution was limited somewhat.  Not to worry, as an alternative, there were many sycamore saplings to deal with.  They have become numerous and rampant in their invasiveness around the edges of the path, including on the river banks and in the area where the new trees have been planted.  These were pulled up and disposed of, along with other weeds close to the path margins, especially the cleavers/goosegrass.

The newly-planted saplings were found largely to be in great condition and many of them have grown at quite an astonishing rate.  Weed/nettle growth was cleared where possible from their immediate surroundings and it was also suggested that some taller tree guards be deployed in the near future to discourage deer from eating them.  Indeed, during the session, a muntjac deer was sighted - evidence if it was needed that we ought to give this idea some further consideration.

The litter situation at first sight was not the worst that we had seen, but one of the reasons for this was that there was much recent nettle growth masking the problem!  When investigating further, it was found that the usual mix of discarded food wrappers, drinks cans, bottles and similar debris were to be found in abundance.  The most unusual item discovered on this occasion was a discarded kettle.  The mind boggles!

Regarding break time, a special mention should be given to Petra's excellent apple cake that she kindly supplied and was greedily consumed in its entirety!  

By session's end, our initial objectives were achieved, but with plenty still to do when we return to the site for the first session after Easter.  Next week, there is an interval in the programme, but we will reconvene here on Saturday 26th April.

The meeting point

Robert's impressive construction

Bluebells beside the River Ock

Some of the trees we planted earlier in the year

Break time

Sycamore over-growth

Activities amongst the trees

Robert and Emma beside the woodchip pile

Eleanor, Samantha with Charlie and Kate

Emma with wheelbarrow

Tanya with the results of her weeding

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Abbey Fishponds, 5th April 2014

This was our second outing of the year to the Abbey Fishponds site and we picked-up where we left off last month, with many of the tasks ongoing from before.  We were instructed on our details at the beginning by site warden, Marjorie White, which were; to continue laying the woodchip path, to resume the removal of a fallen tree, some cutting back of overgrown foliage, hedge maintenance and litter-picking.

We thus decided upon our tasks and split into smaller groups in order to accomplish them.  As well as the Green Gym volunteers and Marjorie, we were joined by Mike and Pete from the Fishponds group who oversaw the path-laying and hedge work respectively.

The weather, as usual was kind.  Not as warm as recently, but a comfortable temperature for working, and crucially, no rain, despite the skies being somewhat overcast.

The initial aim with the path-laying was to use up the whole of the woodchip pile that had accumulated at the Radley Road end of the site.  This was achieved by break time, while good progress was made with cutting up the fallen tree until the remaining sections became too difficult/large to tackle with our saws.

Following refreshments, the main focus was to assist Pete in sourcing lengths of willow and hazel to weave into the hedge on the eastern boundary of the site.  A number of posts were also fashioned from larger pieces of wood to replace the worn out ones.  

All in all, another productive session and we will be returning again soon no doubt!

Marjorie instructs

from a different angle...

Margaret clears some branches cut from the fallen tree

Sally and Ursula rake the woodchip

James showing off his new trousers as he wields a saw

tea or coffee?

the hedge at the eastern edge of the site

willow and hazel stalks for weaving into the hedge

glow-worm larvae attached to Margaret's glove