Monday, December 15, 2014

Cothill Fen, 13th December 2014

This was our final outing of the year and our second consecutive work party at Cothill Fen.  Once again, we were joined by Judy Webb from Natural England, who was directing our activities at the site.

Fifteen-strong, we met in the car park and unloaded the tools before beginning the fairly lengthy trek along the path to the Fen itself.  Upon arrival, Judy set out the morning's tasks, which were primarily to continue thinning the trees that have been encroaching upon the edges of the wetland habitat and also to add to the log path at the around the edge of the site perimeter - using the trunks of some of the felled trees.

Prior to commencing, Green Gym session leader Margaret gave a short presentation on the correct use of tools - namely loppers and saws.  This was mainly for the benefit of our new members, but served as a good refresher for the rest of us.

We set to work and despite the cold and frosty start to the morning, we soon warmed up.  Many small trees were removed and the branches were moved to existing brush piles at the edge of the woods.  Being winter, the sun was low on the horizon and particularly bright, adding an extra, challenging dimension to proceedings.  It was good to see the sun penetrating into the previously dense woodland, however.  This should allow many of the rare fenland plants to thrive in area where previously they struggled to get much light.

Significant progress was made throughout the morning, right up until the close of play.  Being the last session of the year, it was straight to the nearby pub afterwards, the Merry Miller, for our annual Christmas meal.  A great end to another successful year's Green Gym!

Off to work...

A frosty start on the fen

Getting started

Margaret demonstrates the correct use of loppers

Rihanna fells a tree


Gathering together some logs for the path

Path construction underway

Woodland encroaching upon the fen

One of the fenland plants - Spurge Laurel

The tree boundary

Almost done!


The Christmas meal at the Merry Miller

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cothill Fen, 6 December 2014

About fifteen of us assembled at the Merry Miller Car Park near Cothill Fen Nature Reserve on Saturday 5 December. Our group included Erin and Rihanna from John Mason School who were working on their Physical Activity Section of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. 

It was a beautiful frosty morning, bright, sunny and cold. We were met by Judy Webb who explained our tasks for the morning and gave us a safety briefing. There were two main jobs; one was to improve an existing dirt path across a very boggy area by cutting up and laying down trunks and branches that had been felled previously.

The other job was dragging and stacking raked grass. Everyone worked very hard! Lots of pictures were taken by several people – they were so good we have shown most of them below in no particular order. It was a great morning!

Dieuwke carrying a log.

Bagging the grass

Raking in the field

Kevin treading down logs for new path

Hauling the raked grass

Heaping up raked grass

More raking – it’s hard work!

A well-earned coffee break!

Margaret – it’s looking good!

Carolyn yet more raking

Kevin adding log to footpath

Toadstools and ivy on a stump – a great sight!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 29th November 2014

The weather turned fine and sunny after a night of heavy rain for our session at the town end of the Ock Path. The tasks were to inspect the young trees and clear around them, tidy up fallen branches and make habitat piles and pick up litter. We had decided not to renew the woodchip on the woodchip path at this stage as the area was quite likely to flood during the winter and wash away our good work, but to leave this task until the early spring. 

We split up into small groups for our various activities. There was a lot of litter at the Drayton Road end of the path, especially where a footpath cuts through from Ock Street to Drayton Road. Along the path and under the bridge is a notorious litter blackspot as people buy food and drink at the corner shop and discard the annoying and cumbersome packaging as they proceed homewards.

When teabreak time arrived, we had cleared around many of the young trees and found that most of them were in good condition. As well as the usual biscuits, Dieuwke had brought some delicious stollen, which we all enjoyed very much. We continued with our tidying and clearing work, finding a lot of untidy branches from felled trees, which we put into existing habitat piles. It was then time to gather up our tools and return to the car park, after which some people went on to participate in the delights of the Christmas extravaganza in the town centre.

Barry and Enid set to work clearing round the young trees

Colin coppices a hazel


Petra tackles some branches

Kate adds to the habitat pile