Sunday, November 29, 2015

Abraham Wood, Boars Hill, 28th November 2015

We were at Abraham Wood, Boars Hill for this Saturday's session.  We work here on behalf of the Oxford Preservation Trust who own and manage the site.  On this occasion, session leader, Sally, had been instructed on our tasks in advance and so we were in attendance on our own.

Our job was to clear vegetation alongside the boundary fence between the two entry 'kissing gates'.  A 1.5 metre to 2 metre corridor was required to be cleared, of some considerable distance.  Thus it appeared to be rather a daunting task at first.  The area was thick with non-native and invasive laurel, along with many brambles and holly.  There was also some hazel that required coppicing.

Following Sally's initial briefing, our fourteen-strong team split into pairs, spaced at intervals along the boundary, each tackling our own section.

The weather was mild and dry and therefore favourable from the off, although the sky looked increasingly grey and threatening as the morning progressed.

The lopping and slashing commenced, and the cuttings were stacked onto existing piles from previous sessions.

Despite the thick vegetation growth, it was surprising just how much progress was quickly made and by the break at 11am, it looked as if we were well on our way to completion.

Indeed, a good push in the second half saw us achieve our goals!  A job well done.

It was fortunate that we had already packed up and were well on our way transporting our tools back up the hill, when it finally began to rain.  A slightly damp end but otherwise, a lucky escape!

Abraham Wood

A bright start to the morning on Boars Hill

Sally instructs us on the morning's task

Victor gets stuck in

Some of the dense vegetation that required clearing

A rare sighting of the chief blogger!

A pause in the morning's operation

Dieuwke, busy lopping

Getting there!

A finished section

Spot the green gymmer!

Kate and Michelle at the end of the session

Back through the gate

Homeward bound!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Barton Fields, 21st November 2015

It was a very cold and wintry, though thankfully dry, start to the session as we met outside the Sophos building along Barton Lane. Despite the plummeting temperatures, a total of around 20 green gymmers and members of Abingdon Naturalist Society's green team met for this work party at the Barton Fields nature reserve.

As usual at this location, we were working under the direction of warden David Guyoncourt.  A few different tasks were offered, though the predominant duty was to grub up the invasive snowberry plants alongside the Sustrans track running through the site - to allow the native tree and shrub species to thrive.

Elsewhere, unwanted hawthorn and sycamore growth was removed from the wildflower meadow areas, some dangerously low branches from some of the trees close to the main path were dealt with and a litter pick was also conducted.

It was fairly tough work tackling the snowberry, involving digging it out with mattocks, spades and forks!  The roots are surprisingly deep and far-reaching for such small shrubs, but with quite a number of us assigned to this detail, we at least made some good headway.

Meeting on Barton Lane

Off to work

Colin with some of his finds from the litter pick - parts of a motorcycle and a golf ball

Tidying up around a hawthorn tree

Burdock in the sun

An oak tree close to the path with some of the lower branches removed

A clear sky at break time

A pile of snowberry shoots

David (one of the green team volunteers) and Victor pulling up snowberry

The close of play

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 14th November 2015

Two weeks had elapsed since our last visit to the town end of the Ock Valley Walk.  On the last occasion we had prepared some areas for planting spring bulbs and our primary objective this time was to actually sow the bulbs.

While some of our fifteen or so work party set about the aforementioned task, others conducted a litter pick and a third group cleared some suffocating weeds from around the many trees that we planted last year.

For the second session in a row we had to endure rain, but it was thankfully, relatively light compared to the day's pessimistic forecast. With damp foliage, we nevertheless got rather wet, but it was all for a good cause.  Our efforts were also rewarded with Eleanor's lemon drizzle cake that was hungrily devoured at the intermission!

The beginning of the session
Working in the wet weather
The tree plantation
Halfway there!
Knee rest and bulb planting tool
Autumnal sycamore colours
Dog Rose
One of the areas in which bulbs were sown
A litter-free Ock Valley Walk!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Abbey Fishponds, 7th November 2015

We were back at Abbey Fishponds nature reserve on Saturday for the second occasion in the past month.

Once again we joined with Marjorie White and her local volunteers.  Tasks included clearing path boundaries from overgrown vegetation, sweeping up a high volume of fallen leaves and of course a litter pick.  There was also some cutting back of trees to attend to. 

Around fifteen of us were present, including a new member, Michelle.

Unlike most of our sessions this year and over the past few years in fact, we experienced heavy rain. Although we had turned out in waterproof attire, the inclement conditions presented a challenge! Nevertheless, we persisted until the close of play and achieved what we set out to do.  Let us hope for more pleasant conditions next week.

Marjorie instructs us at the start of the session

Path clearance activity
Refreshments in the rain
A red kite circles above
Spindle fruit in the hedge
Path clearance complete
Packing up

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 31st October 2015

Upon a mild Halloween morning, we assembled at the footbridge at the start of the Ock walk.  Totaling around fifteen again, we unloaded the tools from session leader Eleanor's car, and proceeded to the work site.

The main task this time was to clear some patches of stinging nettles in the wooded area including the digging-out of roots, in preparation for planting flower bulbs that will come up in the spring.  The nettle growth is rather prolific here, but hopefully it will lessen once the trees that we have planted mature and create shade. In the meantime, it will be good to be able to enjoy the flowers from perhaps March onwards.

Other tasks included removing willowherb growth from around the aforementioned recently-planted trees and clearing away some fallen willow tree branches in the vicinity of the woodchip path.  There was also, as ever, some litter to pick.

We will be back here in a couple of weeks to plant bulbs and take care of whatever else needs doing on that occasion.

Eleanor instructs the group upon arrival
James removing nettles
An interesting find from the litter-pick
A patch of cleared nettles, ready for bulb planting
Kevin cleans the tools in the Ock river
Colin clearing around the trees
The wooded area where we have planted a number of trees
Some of the litter picked
Robert removes the promotional sign at the end of the session