Showing posts from December, 2021

Abingdon Green Gym Christmas Walk, Saturday 19th December, 2021

This blog post was written by Abingdon Green Gym Chair, Kevin Thorne: Not quite the same as the Christmas lunch, but we did start off in the same place at Cothill Fen, meeting over the road from the Merry Miller Pub (which we frequent for our usual Christmas meal). Ten members attended the walk, and the first thing to do was decide on the route.  After a short discussion someone had a vague idea, with the help of google maps, of a circular walk.  Setting off, we passed the Fen. We have worked on the Fen over the last couple of years to improve the quality of the water by making dams of the cut reeds to filter out the nitrates that run off the farmers fields, and after surveying our work we continued on further into the woods that surround it. After about an hour, by luck we came across an ideal spot to enjoy home made mince pies and home cooked biscuits! There were some nice big planks to sit on nicely located next to a pond, where we were lucking enough to see a Kingfisher hunting for

Matthew Arnold Field, Saturday 11th December 2021

  This week's blog post was written by session leader, Eleanor Dangerfield:  This Saturday thirteen of us gathered in Jarn Way to work in Matthew Arnold Field, Boars Hill. We met the new Oxford Preservation Trust officer, Charlie, for the first time, who told us that our main task was to clear the belt of brambles growing half way down the field and to stack them along the fence at the bottom of the field. Sally and Adrian set to work with their scythes and others with slashers and loppers and soon there were plenty of brambles to rake up and carry down to the fence. We worked hard until tea break time but realised that the task was going to take us all morning. However, our break was not as relaxing as we had hoped as a horse, which we hadn’t even noticed before, ambled up with the clear intention of sharing our biscuits. We tried shooing it away, but it refused to budge, trampling on the tarpaulin and grabbing plastic bags and rucksacks in the hope that they would be tasty. I thi

Two Pines Fen, Monday 6th December 2021

This blogpost was written by leader, Sally Gillard: On Monday, 6 December we returned to Two Pine Fen on Frilford Heath Golf Course SSSI in an attempt to finish the autumn cut and rake of this alkaline fen which is bordered by two golf courses so we can really only do this safely by arrangement with the green-keeping staff, who kindly shut one of the holes on the green course and moved the 16th tee on the red course. The weather forecast was not at all promising, but luckily the heavy downpour that we thought we would be in for did not materialise and we managed to shrug off the light showers, but as Jake, one of the staff said, "You never pick good weather!" We worked under Rod D'Ayala's directions to prioritise scything and raking where we had left off the previous Monday, but we also needed to clear the "triangle" area on the green course side of the fen, which is home to the exquisitely beautiful "Grass of Parnassus" (which is not a grass at al

Boundary House Fen, Saturday 4th December 2021

  This Saturday was very cold and windy, but the intrepid Abingdon Green Gym Team were not phased as they marched across Frilford Heath Golf Course to their site for the day: Boundary House Fen. After finding a safe way to traverse through the fen whilst loaded up with rakes, forks, saws, and buckets for picking up wayward golf balls, the volunteers listened to quick briefing from Rod D'Ayala and Eleanor D, the day's leader.  The main task for the day was to rake up the reeds which had already been cut, and which were continuing to be cut by the scythers. Some of the reeds were already in neat piles, so we needed to shift them to reinforce the bank of the stream. Other reeds were stacked on to pre-existing 'nature piles', which either covered tree stumps or sat at the periphery of the fen. One challenge faced by those forking the cut reeds was trying to transfer them to the right place without the reeds (usually on the end of a fork slung over a shoulders) falling down

Two Pine Fen, Monday 29th November 2021

This blog post was written by Leader, Sally Gillard: Although Frilford Heath Golf Course SSSI was closed to golfers on Monday following Storm Arwen’s snowfall, it didn’t deter the Green Gymmers and friends from their mission to carry out phase 1 of an autumn cut and rake of Two Pine Fen. 10 turned out and we set to work straight away as it was bitterly cold. Layers soon started to be cast off once we got into the swing of things, though. We took the opportunity to dig up willow stumps to prevent regrowth and concentrated our efforts on the “red course” side of the fen, in the knowledge that next Monday the “green course” hole will be closed and we‘ll be able to work uninterrupted on that side of the fen then. Some of the scything was really tough going as it was lying every which way, but 6 of us gave it a really good try, whilst our four rakers soon started building up the dam in the stream, to help raise the water table and help rewet the fen.  It’s a real gem; home to 12 species of