Showing posts from October, 2019

Kennington Memorial Field, 26th October 2019

We returned to the Kennington Memorial Field on Saturday for our bi-annual session here, working with the Oxford Preservation Trust (OPT). Upon arrival, the car park by the pavilion was already full since some sporting activities on the adjacent pitches had already commenced. Once alternative parking arrangements had been sought and found, we assembled and made our way through the gate to the field itself, ready for instruction by Lindsay Priddle from the OPT. The task of the day was to clear brambles and scrub from an area on the western edge of the site before transporting the cuttings down the hill to a bonfire. This is an ongoing process here to ensure that the encroachment upon the grassland areas is kept in check and therefore preserving this valued community asset. A pair of OPT volunteers and several locals gathered alongside us, adding up to a total workforce of 25 or so. Armed with bow saws and loppers, most of us found a spot to begin the scrub clearance, while others g

Farmoor Reservoir, 19th October 2019

It was a stunning October day for our second visit to Farmoor Reservoir. Seventeen of us turned out for a session led by James under the aegis of warden Hanna Jenkins. As with last time, we met in the car park then drove in convoy around the reservoir itself, parking up and unloading our tools for a visit to a different meadow to last time. Shrike meadow – so called because a shrike was once spotted here many moons ago, although never to be seen again – has been looked after by Thames Water since 2000. Our task was to chop back all the scrub and weeds to create more pasture in preparation for the five cows, currently on neighbouring Pinkhill Nature Reserve, to come over onto this field next year. The scrub comprised mainly alder and willow of one or two years’ growth, and some very tall reeds. We had brought bow saws, loppers and scythes and started to raze them to the ground. It was definitely welly work, as quite often the water was inches deep in places. Adrian gave th

Boundary House Fen, 12th October 2019

Eleven of us assembled in the Golf Club car park for our session at Boundary House Fen. We drove round to the other entrance and fortunately, this time, the gate was open. After a wet few days and a very wet night, we feared we might get soaked, but once again our Green Gym luck was on our side, the rain fizzled out and the temperature was quite mild and calm. We made our way to the fen where we were working under the direction of Rod d’Ayala. Our task was to clear the piles of cut reeds to the heaps on the edge of the fen and around the tree stumps and rake up the remainder. This was a task we were well used to.  In one corner of the fen, water had collected in a pool and we made a ridge of reeds in front of it to hold the water back. We saw a roe deer running out from the trees and across the golf course. We found a small fro g, which we put out of harm’s way and a robin flitted impatiently around the hedge at the back of the fen. We sustained ourselves with home made c

Cothill Fen, 5th October 2019

Eleven of us turned up for today’s session at Cothill Fen, led by Eleanor with Judy Webb and Steph from Natural England. It was quite a mild, grey day and we were assured that the high water levels had gone down a little – welcome news at a site where often at least one of us gets water in our boots. We were split into two groups, with the majority of us moving piles of reeds that had already been cut and raked to fill a pond that had formed in a ditch on the edge of the woodland. Tussocks of reeds had deliberately been left across the fen to form a mosaic habitat structure for flora and fauna. A smaller second party made their way to the other end of the site, to where the ‘evil spring’ is still bringing nitrate from the farmed fields beyond, which is leaching onto the fen. A dam has been formed along the stream edge but with all the duckweed on the fen water, it’s apparent that nitrate is still getting through. Our task here was to remove cut reeds from the stream itself, s