Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Cothill Fen, 14th April 2018

The weather was better than it had been for a long time when nine of us assembled to work on Cothill Fen under the direction of Judy Webb from Natural England.

The first task was to transport logs from the piles around the fen to build a short path leading into the wet woodland so Judy could access that area with less risk of falling in!

The main task after that was to fill the wet areas of the fen with cut reeds. There was also some work to be done on cutting shoots off the alder stumps on the fen. The reason for filling the wet areas was because the fen is too high in nitrates, which drain off the neighbouring agricultural land. The reeds will rot down and purify the water, making it more suitable for calcareous fen plants. 

Transporting the reeds from the piles around the fen to the areas where they were needed was hard work and we were glad of a tea break. Then we continued with the task. An enjoyable task for some people was jumping on the reeds to compress them, then adding more until they could be walked on without getting wet feet.

By the end of the session we had made pretty good progress. There was more to be done, but the task will be continued by the Friday Cothill group, and we will be back again in four weeks’ time.

Transporting logs and branches.

Vegetation in the fen including 'fool's watercress'.

Making a path into the woods.

Filling the pools with reeds.

Tea break.

Stamping down the reeds.

Half  a pool filled with reeds.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Abbey Fishponds, 7th April 2018

This Saturday we were working at Abbey Fishponds under the direction of Lucy from the Earth Trust. We were also joined by some Earth Trust/ Abbey Fishponds volunteers. 

Apart from a few spots of rain early on, the weather stayed dry. There were several tasks. One was to dig out the boggy areas on the path through the middle of the reserve and fill them with the rubble (from the demolished house at Thrupp Lake), then cover them with soil again. This would help with drainage. 

There was also cut grass from the Radley Road end of the site to be raked and piled up, litter to be picked up and some brambles to be cut back. We set to work on our chosen tasks. 

There was far more litter than expected at the Radley Road end. We think someone may have been camping out there at some point and certainly whole bags of rubbish had been dumped, We even found a T.V. aerial. 

Digging out and filling the wet areas was hard work, but the task was completed by tea break time and by the end of the session, all the cut grass had been raked up. It was good to see a few butterflies, including a brimstone, and several bumble bees, so maybe Spring is here at last.

Tea break.

The repaired path.


More raking!

Litter picking.

The Earth Trust trailer.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Southern Town Park, 31st March 2018

This was an extra session, not on the programme as we don’t usually meet on Easter Saturday, but there was still work to do on the wild flower patch, which we hadn’t managed to finish the previous week. In the end ten of us turned up including new recruits, father and son Nick and Oscar, as Oscar is doing his Duke of Edinburgh award. We had decided to work from 10-12 with no tea break and then head off for a pub lunch.

Most Green Gymmers went to work on the wild flower patch, digging it over and extending it and pulling up nettles and goose grass. There was also work to be done sawing and tidying up fallen branches and James volunteered to do this. There was still quite a lot of litter so I went litter picking. It was encouraging to meet some members of the Youth Football Club litter picking around the pitches (female members, of course!).

By midday the wild flower seeds had been sown and marked out with stakes and labels, with the woodland ones nearer the trees and the meadow ones in the less shady area. Fortunately the rain held off until we had almost finished and we headed off to the White Horse for lunch. I was unwittingly accompanied by a small snail, which had crawled up my fleece during lunch and wasn’t discovered until we were leaving. I hope it likes its new home in the pub flower beds.

Photos by Sally:

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Southern Town Park, 24th March 2018

On Saturday we met at the Football Club car park, Lambrick Way, for another session at Southern Town Park.  The weather was dull but warmer than we have become accustomed to recently, with a slight drizzle.  Sally had received some wild flower seeds (see pictures) just in time from Kew Gardens with full instructions and labels, ready for planting.  This was going to be the main focus of the session. Other tasks included the usual litter picking and bramble bashing.

The wild flower planters got down to it, literally on their hands and knees to clear away moss, grass and nettles, and also the odd hibernating grub (see photo) that were starting to retake the area from the flowers.  Meanwhile, another group started to clear a new area adjacent to the original bed for more flowers.

Progress was slow but working close together meant that the conversation was flowing and the time zipped by.

By refreshment break, Sally had come to the realisation that we would not be able to complete the job today and suggested that we come back next Saturday.  Despite it being Easter when the Green Gym traditionally have a break, this seemed like a good idea and there was a good response from the volunteers who were keen to finish the task.

There wasn't a lot to show for our efforts by the close of play except muddy tools and boots (for which a nearby puddle came in handy for cleaning them off) and a barren-looking wildflower patch!  Yet sometimes size does not matter and once the flowers bloom we will be able to see the full results.

New Programme for Spring 2018

Our new programme for Spring 2018 has just been published.  See below, or click HERE for a larger-print PDF file version (opens in new window).

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ock Valley Walk, Tesco End, 17th March 2018

Ten hardy Green Gymmers, well prepared to face the second attack of the “Beast from the East”, assembled for litter picking and clearing fallen branches. Unfortunately this blog doesn’t contain photos. It was far too cold even to think of photos and anyway, this would have involved removing gloves to press buttons.

There was a lot of litter, which had accumulated since the last time we had been here last Autumn. There was a bitterly cold wind and occasional flurries of snow, but the snow had not yet settled and covered the litter. There were also many fallen branches to be cleared, brought down by the winter storms and snow falls.

We were very glad of our mid morning break with cups of tea and coffee to warm us up and plenty of biscuits. We bravely carried on until almost 12:30pm, with branches cut up and put on piles and leaving about eight bags of rubbish and recycling by the roadside for the council contractors to pick up on Monday.

A huge thank you to the Green Gymmers who weren’t deterred by the weather. You did a grand job!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Two Pine Fen, Frilford Heath Golf Club, 13th March 2018

Some hardy Green Gymmers, who couldn’t get enough of it on Saturdays, assembled for a session at Two Pine Fen on Frilford Golf Course.

The task was to rake off the dead vegetation and thatch from the area, under the direction of Judy Webb, to allow the Spring and Summer flowers to come through. The reason that we have to do a midweek session here is that the area is in the range of flying golf balls so we have to come when it is not so busy and part of the course is closed for maintenance. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to come back and see the wild flowers, such as orchids, unless we take up golf.

We found that the fen was wetter than in previous years, which is a good sign, though there were a lot more oak leaves to rake up, which must have blown over from a nearby wood.

We piled the raked vegetation up near the stream that runs through the fen. Rod d’Ayala is going to dam the stream so the water can spread out on to the fen, and will use the raked material to fill the channel.

We worked hard, with a tea break at 11 o’clock and didn’t have to retreat to the shelter of the trees too often to avoid flying golf balls. Some of us had to go home at midday but several people stayed on until four o’clock to get the job finished.

We are really grateful to the people who give up their time to put in extra work during the week.

Photos by Sally and Eleanor: