Monday, September 16, 2019

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 14th September 2019

This Saturday, we were at the Ock Path, Town end and 10 of us met at our usual spot in the St Helen's Court car park.  We had a number of tasks including clearing nettles and brambles away from the paths, clearing litter and also cutting overhanging branches from trees, which we are not able to do earlier in the year to avoid disturbing any nesting birds.

We also cleared lots of nettles from around the trees that we had planted.  Someone has removed stakes and guards from some of the trees, but we found evidence of damage caused to the trunk of one of the young trees by deer scratching.

Himalayan Balsam did not escape our attention either, and we managed to pull this where we found it.

Rosie assisted by Graham cut back an ash sapling which was growing out of the foundations of the bridge over the weir, to stop it from causing any further damage to the structure and also from causing a nuisance to passers-by.

We were very lucky with the weather again with lots of sunshine filtering through the trees.

We managed to collect three bags of rubbish, which we left at the usual pick up point on the Drayton Road for Biffa to collect.

It was lovely that so many people stopped to thank us for our efforts.

We left not long after break time as it was a busy weekend with a number of Open Doors events and "Ride and Stride" taking place.

First seven photos by Sally, last three by Margaret:

Graham clearing nettles from around a young tree.
Rosie clearing nettles from the path.
Break time.

A rowan bowing under the weight of its berries.
Deer damage.

Dieuwke getting to grips.

Janet and Joan clearing the pathway.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Cothill Fen, 7th September 2019

There were only nine Green Gymmers for the reed raking session at Cothill under the direction of Steph from Natural England and Judy Webb, so we realised we would have to work extra hard. We made our way to the far side of the fen and set up base camp under the trees. The large ash trees there would, sadly, need to be felled because of ash dieback.

The reeds had been scythed the previous day by the Friday volunteers and our task was to rake them up and stack them alongside the stream to form a barrier and on the other side by the deep water area. Walking on the fen while judging where it was safe to tread without sinking, especially while carrying a pitchfork full of reeds, was quite an adventure. There’s a photo of Roger looking remarkably cheerful considering he stepped in well above wellie height.

After the tea break, Judy took a couple of people off to collect seeds from rare plants, which could be spread around the fen. They found the remarkably large caterpillar, which you can see in the photo.

The rest of us continued raking and transporting the reeds. A path had been cut through the remaining reeds beside the deep water and we spread the cut reeds on it to make it passable without getting wet.
By half past twelve we had managed to clear all of the cut reeds, so we were very satisfied by our morning’s work.  

Photos by Margaret:

A few more photos from Boundary House Fen

Here are a few more photos from our recent session at Boundary House Fen, provided by Sally, with the final image by Kevin:

Monday, September 2, 2019

Boundary House Fen, 31st August 2019

Fourteen Green Gymmers met in Frilford Golf Club car park for our reed raking session at Boundary House Fen under the direction of Judy Webb.

We pooled cars and drove to the usual gate, but here we encountered our first obstacle – the gate hadn’t been unlocked, so we had no choice but to leave our cars on the verge and carry all our tools and equipment.

We reached the fen, with occasional stops to stand in reverent silence while somebody teed off. Rod d’Ayala had been busy cutting the reeds and our task was to rake them up and either transport them to heaps on the edge of the fen or pile them into the stream to raise the water level and allow the water to seep on to the fen. Another task was to cut back some trees which had started to sprout from the stumps. Rod and Judy showed us an area of reed which was left uncut as marsh lousewort was growing there. This plant parasitises reeds and thus is useful for reducing reed cover and enabling other fen plants to thrive.

After our tea break there was another task. A patch of Himalayan Balsam had been discovered in the scrub on the edge of the fen. A small group of us went to pull it up, making sure we covered the seed heads with plastic bags as the pods were ripe and would burst and scatter their seeds at the slightest touch. Among the vegetation we found an elephant hawkmoth caterpillar (the “eyes” are simply markings to scare predators), a shieldbug and a hornet hoverfly. You can see photos of all of these. We also found several golf balls. Golfers generally don’t bother to look for lost balls but Judy knows someone who sells them in aid of a charity.

Then it was time to pack up and make our way back to the gate, feeling satisfied with our morning’s work.

First seven photos by Judy, last three by Michele: