Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cothill Fen and Christmas Meal, 12th December 2015

For the final session of the calendar year, we were back at Cothill Fen, with our annual Christmas meal held in the nearby pub, the Merry Miller, afterwards.

There were a lot of similarities with this Saturday and last - once again we were supervised by Judy Webb from Natural England, reed raking was the main task, and the weather was damp but mild.  However, while there were only five of us on the previous occasion, we numbered a dozen this time.

Having transported tools and tea kit down the track, as usual, we found the fen soggy and the terrain uneven with all the many tussocks tricky to navigate. The reeds had been cut and required raking across approximately half the site, and stacking in existing piles around the perimeter.

While the majority of our workforce were busy raking and pitchforking, Robert and Colin were given the job of cutting back some of the smaller trees and branches on the edge of the fen.

In contrast to last week, when our depleted contingent had no hope of completing, on this occasion we got the job done in a timely manner.

Back up the track to the car park then, and onwards to the pub where we met with a few more members who had turned out for just the meal. A lovely social event with which to conclude another successful year.  Next up will be the AGM in January!

Gathering at 9:30am
The fen upon arrival
Off to work we go...
Andrew in pitchfork action!
Lauren by the tall reeds
Tree stump and tussocks amidst the general sogginess
Lauren levitates!
Towards the end of the session
The track back
The Christmas luncheon
At the bar!
A roaring fire at the Merry Miller

Monday, December 7, 2015

Frilford Heath Golf Club, 5th December 2015

An unusually small turn-out this week! We assembled in the car park of Frilford Heath Golf Club and were immediately a man down as session leader, James, was feeling rather under the weather and could not participate.  Sally took the reins instead and in any case, Judy Webb from Natural England was present to boost our numbers from five to six!

Onwards with a short drive around the corner to the groundkeeper's buildings, where we unloaded the tools and began our trek across the golf course to Boundary House Fen where our work was to be carried out.  A short pause while we waited for some golfers to clear the fairway and we arrived and got underway.

The reeds had recently been cut over the entire fen area and our job was to take them up and carry and stack them in piles around the perimeter.  There were also a few isolated areas of tree regrowth to cut cut back and some fallen branches to deal with.

Being somewhat understaffed, we did the best job that we could, but it was soon evident that we would not complete the task today.  Not to worry, we worked steadily and got around half of the raking done, quite respectable!

During the morning, Judy identified a number of rare plants and fungi and saw evidence of the increase of many fenland species. Very encouraging with regards to our work here.

Back across the golf course at the end of the session where we were interrogated by an irate golfer who informed us that there was no public footpath in the vicinity! Quite where he thought we were headed with rakes and pitchforks, we had no idea, but he soon apologised when we informed him of his error!  

Unloading of tools at the groundkeeper's buildings
Waiting for golfers as we walk across to the fen
Setting up!
Boundary House Fen at the start of the session
Some of the tall pine trees flanking the fen
Work in progress
Robert pitchforking some of the cut reeds
Sphagnum moss
Ursula in charge of refreshments
Mycelium inside a tree branch
Turkeytail fungus on a fallen tree
One of the ponds within the fen
The raked and stacked reeds from the session
Janet, Robert and Sally with a drag-bag full of raked reeds