Showing posts from July, 2021

Hinksey Heights Nature Trail, 31st July 2021

Today we returned to Hinksey Heights Nature Trail for our second July visit. We met in the golf club car park and unloaded the tools. Adrian had brought a surplus supply of courgettes, which we gladly shared out - one of which bore an uncanny resemblance to Andrew and Joanna's dog, Elly! We met with proprietor John Brimble upon arrival, who outlined the tasks ahead.  Usually John is accompanied with partner Jenny, though unfortunately on this occasion she was ill and unable to attend. We wish her a speedy recovery. John had to head off early therefore, leaving us to our own devices. We wandered along the nature trail to the pond area, which was the focus of our activities. The first of the main jobs to tackle was to replace some old spiral tree guards around several young saplings with larger, more robust guards and heftier stakes. A number of guards and stakes were stacked in a corner of the field, while others had to be retrieved from the copse area, back along the path. The seco

Manor Farm, Marcham, 24th July 2021

Saturday marked our first visit to Marcham for a couple of years. We visit the Mill Road and Manor Farm sites during the summer months in order to pull up the pesky Himalayan Balsam which unfortunately proliferates here. Since our operations were suspended last summer, this invasive plant has had the chance to run rather rampant. We gathered in the yard at Cumber's Farm, fifteen or so strong, with leader Eleanor D taking on the additional role as parking steward, minus the hi vis jacket. Once gathered, Roger distributed the latest orders of Green Gym attire, which now come in olive green as well as the more traditional 'Abingdon Green Gym' green.  We marched onwards to our base camp location just off Mill Road, beside the bridge, the midway point between the key work areas of the roadside ditch and the adjoining stream. Here we split into sub-teams and went off on the pull! Back in 2019, we were confident that we were making great strides towards eradicating the plant here,

Riding for the Disabled, Southmoor, 17th July 2021

Another new Green Gym work location this week. The local Riding for the Disabled venue in Southmoor was where we assembled under chairman Kevin's leadership and guided by the staff at the riding centre. After a quick briefing in the car park and welcoming of new member Adela, we set off down the path to the field where we'd be working. Kevin was able to take his car down, which meant that we could enjoy the stroll empty-handed and collect the tools once we had arrived. The task was to clear a ditch beside one of the fields where horses are kept. This ought to improve the drainage situation in an area that is prone to flooding in the winter around the vicinity of a narrow bridge. The weather was scorching and shade was at a minimum, therefore we worked at a leisurely pace and kept ourselves suitably hydrated. That said, we quickly cleared a long section, armed with loppers, slashers and our bare (gloved!) hands. We raked out the cuttings into the field and pitchforked them into

Hinksey Heights, 10th July 2021

Hinksey Heights Nature Trail was the venue for Saturday's Green Gym. Ten of us met site owners and wardens John and Jenny upon arrival, with the morning's tasks outlined. These were to weed the wildflower patch by the entrance to the trail, to cut back any overhanging foliage from the sides of the main path and to remove ash saplings from around the lake a little further along the track. We divided up into teams and got busy. Sally, Ursula and Lesley took on the weeding detail while Adrian set off on path lopping and sawing duties. The remainder of us headed for the lake with John to be shown where the ash saplings were sprouting and where to pile up the cuttings. Unfortunately, ash dieback has struck here as it has throughout the region and so most of the young trees have to be removed. Ash grows rather prolifically here, but the signs of the Chalara fungal disease were much in evidence.  Our 11am break seemed to come around quickly and everyone gathered around the picnic tabl

Boundary House Fen, 3rd July 2021

Back to Boundary House Fen for today's session and just three weeks since our last visit. Once again we assembled at the main Frilford Heath golf club car park before driving around to the ground keepers' compound and walking to the fen from there. There were around fifteen of us, including Judy Webb - our resident Natural England ecologist. We walked around the perimeter of the course to meet site supervisor Rod d'Ayala at the top end of the work area. Green Gym session leader Eleanor D outlined the basics before leaving it to Rod to detail the morning's tasks. The main task was to rake and collect up the cut reeds again and add them to the main habit piles and also to lay them on the main watercourse and the newer dam. There was some scything on the side too, which Adrian was able to tackle. The ground was rather soggy underfoot, which is quite ideal for a fen. Indeed, it was good to see that our efforts over the years have been paying off in terms of habitat improvem