Barton Fields, 7th December 2019

There were 21 of us for today’s session at Barton Fields, next to the River Thames in Abingdon. The session was led by Sally in conjunction with David Guyoncourt from the Abingdon Naturalists' Society Green Team who manages the site.

We unloaded the tools and David took a splinter group of a few of us, including Rosie and Michele, off for some hardcore lopping and sawing to take place along the river bank. A path had to be forged through the undergrowth to get there and they were given their own supplies of refreshments as they wouldn’t be able to make it back to the main base for break time.

Otherwise, we made our way to the place we’d be working and were split into two further groups – a small group of loppers and sawers to work next to the Sustrans cycle path where grassy bays are being created in order to attract solitary bees and butterflies. Here it was a question of cutting down and thinning out overhanging branches so the light can get through.

The remainder of us took to scything and raking the cut reeds, sedges and willowherb in order to create a floodplain meadow. There was also a strimmer in use. The aim was to clear about 100 square metres, although it looked like we cleared a bigger area than this. This is the first time it’s been cut, but the aim is to cut it again next year and in time have it ready for planting flowers such as snakeshead fritillaries which thrive in this sort of habitat. The work is being done with the advice of the Open University Floodplain Meadow Project.

We gathered at break time (apart from the splinter group!) got welcome cups of tea and coffee and mince pies and Sylfest's home made Christmas biscuits were offered around.

In the second half of the session, the fuel for the strimmer ran out, just as the last bit of willowherb was cut – impeccable timing! We raked up the rest of the cut material and by the end of the session had three or so huge mounds which will rot down over the coming months. It was a grey old day, but we'd worked hard and went home happy with our progress and looking forward to seeing how the meadow develops over the coming year.

David and Margaret about to get started.

David instructs as Petra volunteers to get involved.

The raking gets underway.

Joanna enjoys a biscuit.

The splinter group take their refreshments in isolation.

The remainder of the group at break time.

The second half of the session.

Michele and Rosie, two of the hardcore loppers!

A view of Abingdon Lock from the work site.

The session is almost complete.

A field vole.


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