Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New Programme for Spring 2016

The new Abingdon Green Gym programme for Spring 2016 has just been published, as below or find a higher-resolution on our website by clicking HERE

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Southern Town Park, 19th March 2016

There were two main tasks to be done in Southern Town Park - clearing brambles on the western side of the park, where we hadn't been for over a year, and litter picking. When we arrived, we found there was also a fallen tree in the wooded area, which looked as if it had been partially burnt. There is a great deal of littering as well as fly tipping and sometimes vandalism in this area, which is a shame as it provides varied wildlife habitats as well as walking and leisure for local people.

Fortunately there were fourteen Green Gymmers to tackle the work. Several of us set to work on the brambles, others on the litter picking. Kevin and Robert went to saw up the fallen tree and stack the branches. Among the fly tipped items were a bicycle frame, a grill pan and a can of petrol, which had no doubt been used for a spot of arson.

We were glad of our tea break and had the relative luxury of a picnic table and some cake. No ginger nuts, though. It appears that the ginger nut factory in Cumbria, devastated by the winter floods, is still not back up and running. By the end of the session  we had some satisfactory piles of brambles, a number of bags of litter and recycling and the tree trunk and branches had been sawn up and stacked. Colin piled the bags on his trolley to take to the collection point on the other side of the park and we made our way across the playing field to the car park.

Michelle keeps busy

Tackling the brambles

Carolyn with pitchfork

Robert and Colin start work on the fallen tree

Petra clears litter in the wood

Tea break with picnic table

Colin with his trolley load

Habitat piles from the fallen branches

Monday, March 14, 2016

Cothill Fen, 12th March 2016

It was a cold and misty morning as we gathered at the car park for Cothill Fen, opposite the Merry Miller pub. We were met as usual here by Judy Webb from Natural England who would supervise the morning's tasks.

Following the trek down the path to the fen itself, we were fully briefed on our objectives. Judy had some old photos of the site that she showed us - how the area used to look, with a much larger pond and more expansive fenland area in general.  Our job was therefore to continue cutting back small trees and shrubs that have been encroaching upon the boundary in the interim.

The terrain underfoot, in and around the trees, was swamp-like, making it a fairly tricky area in which to operate. However, armed with saws and loppers, we were keen to get underway and to remain warm!

Small trees and shrubs were felled and cut into sections, before stacking into piles. We were careful to ensure that species such as willow were kept off the ground so that they wouldn't put down new roots.

A good-sized area was cleared throughout the morning, leaving the larger trees for subsequent work parties, where chain saws would be required.  Otherwise, this work will continue later in the year after birds have arrived and nested in the vicinity.

A foggy car park
Down the track
Misty fen

Assembling at the work site
Michelle gets to work
Carolyn helps Ursula retrieve her boot from the mud!
Workers amongst the trees
Looking a lot clearer
Blue skies later on
An area where trees were previously cleared to open up the fen
Margaret transports some cut tree branches back, while being steadied by Kevin!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Abrahams Wood, Boars Hill, 5th March 2016

It was back to Abrahams Wood, Boars Hill on Saturday, where we met with Andy Gunn from Oxford Preservation Trust who was supervising our session.

There were two main jobs - firstly to remove a neglected and potentially dangerous barbed-wire fence from the old golf course area, and secondly to continue felling the non-native and invasive laurel from the woods.  We split into sub-teams and Andy instructed each on the finer points of these tasks.
The fence-removers set about donning safety glasses and taking bolt-cutters and other specialist tools to enable safe removal of the barbed-wire from the fence posts.  The wire was somewhat entangled around shrubs and bushes in the vicinity, thus loppers were also employed to set it free, before winding it up, ready for transporting away.  Next, the fence posts were removed.  Some of these could simply be pulled up, while others required digging out with spades.

Meanwhile, the other group had plenty to keep them occupied in the woods.  Some of the larger laurel trees had recently been felled by Andy and his work colleague and required cutting and stacking into piles.  Smaller trees and branches were also felled and removed.

The fence had been fully removed by break time, and immediately afterwards the wire and posts were transported across to the woods for later collection.  

Everyone was then involved in laurel-removal for the second half, and considerable progress was made in this regard.  It was apparent that a lot more light was making it through to the floor of the woods as we progressed, good news for the native flora and fauna!

Assembling outside the OU buildings
Making our way through the kissing-gate
Andy instructs the group on the morning's tasks
The fence-removal team have a briefing
Fence removal in progress
A recently fallen tree next to the old fence
The fence posts and barbed-wire following removal
Finishing up the fence-removal task
A small stream running through the old golf course site
A well-deserved elevenses
Margaret and Sally get busy clearing laurel
Spot the Green-Gymmer!
The group wending their way back up the hil at session's end...