Showing posts from June, 2014

Cothill Fen, 28th June 2014

We met opposite the Merry Miller pub for our session at Cothill Fen Nature Reserve under the direction of Judy Webb. Reeds had been cut on part of the fen and our main task was to rake them up. The weather was rather damp and cloudy with occasional flurries of rain. Having walked along the path to the site, we set to work raking the reeds into piles. We had brought drag bags, which made the task of transporting the piles of reeds over to the heaps on the edge of the fen much easier. There was also some cutting back of scrub which was encroaching on the fen. Robert chose this task and set to work with great enthusiasm so the raking was accompanied by the sound of crashing branches interspersed with cries of "Be careful" and "Are you supposed to be cutting those big branches down?" Judy pointed out the common spotted orchids and the marsh helleborines. There was also bog pimpernel growing on some of the tussocks. It is a tiny flower, rather like scarlet

A few photos from last Saturday at Frilford Heath...

Photos 1-9 by Margaret, 10 by Eleanor

Frilford Heath SSSI, 21st June 2014

Eleven of us met at Woodhaven, Frilford for our second session of Himalayan Balsam pulling. It was a glorious sunny day and the longest day of the year. As we made our way past the meadow, we saw that the grass had grown quite high but we could still see many purple orchids, which are one of the features that give this area SSSI status. We crossed the bridge over the stream and reached the spot we usually choose as our base. Some of the path was still quite muddy despite the recent dry weather.  We were pleased to see that the central area was vitually clear of Himalayan Balsam after several Summers of hard work. We split up into three or four groups to go to different areas. one area was in the shady wood, one by the stream and one in the open wet meadow. Here, some of the HB was already in flower as it got more sun. First, a fallen tree had to be cleared off the path with saws and loppers. We worked hard until tea break time, then carried on until 12.30, making sat

Barton Fields, 14th June 2014

A small group of Green Gymmers met in Barton Lane to help the Abingdon Naturalists' Green Team, led this time by David Dewhurst. The main tasks were pulling up Himalayan Balsam in the willow carr area at the other end of the site, and litter picking. After the overnight thunderstorms, the willow carr area was very wet with ankle deep water in parts so those who hadn't worn wellies lived to regret it but they set off to do litter picking in the drier parts of the site. Firstly we needed to distinguish between the less invasive Orange Balsam and the Himalayan Balsam, which was our main target. You can see the two plants side by side in the photo below. As the flowers have not yet appeared, you have to look at the leaves, which are more deeply serrated in the orange balsam and are arranged in opposite pairs, whereas in the Himalayan, the leaves are grouped in a patterns of three up the stem. The orange balsam was much more abundant nearer to the entrance to the wi

Fun in the Park, 7th June 2014

Fun in the Park, the annual event held in the Abbey Fields, went ahead despite the threat of a last-minute cancellation in the event of the tempest that had been forecast. Eleanor did a great job in organising our stall and huge thanks are also due to Sam for the loan of her gazebo. After a false start (in the rain), Andrew, Victor and Arthur managed to put the canopy on the right way round before the heavens really open for a torrential downpour (although the sky didn't 'rain potatoes'), which meant everything stayed relatively dry! (I really can't tell you how grateful we were, Sam!) Luckily, the skies then brightened and the sun finally came out, not long after the official opening time and after the steam dissipated, the visitors came in droves! We sold lots of Green Gym marmalade (here's to the Marmaladies!) and Eleanor's lovely lemon curd and chutney. The Treasure Hunt went down very well too. Jelly babies soon soothed away the sulks from the lose

New Summer 2014 Programme

The Abingdon Green Gym Summer Programme has just been published (see below). To view/download a pdf version with larger text, click HERE

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 31st May 2014

We were back at our most-frequented site this weekend - the town end of the Ock Valley Walk, since there was much work outstanding from previous sessions this year. Having assembled by the footbridge at the weir, and transported our tools to the worksite, it was apparent that the stinging nettles and other vegetation had grown considerably in recent weeks.  So much so that they dwarfed many of the newly-planted trees.  Therefore one of the most important jobs was to clear an area of approximately one metre in radius around each tree in order to permit light to get through and give them the best possible chance of survival.  This was a fairly tricky operation because the nettles were so high that we had difficulty in even finding the saplings.  Coupled with the painful stinging ability of the nettles and the strong sunlight, this took some stamina!  However, the difficult nature of the task was slightly offset by the joy of discovering that the majority of the trees were in good healt