Task Programme

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Sunday 4 Jan 2015Reserve MaintenanceCrecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire
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Happy New Year! Crecy Hill is an attractive local nature reserve managed by Tackley Parish Council. It lies on a slope and overlooks the River Cherwell, the Oxford Canal and the main railway line North from Oxford. We began work to reclaim the reserve from rampant assorted scrub and hawthorn last September and today we'll return to continue where we left off.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Tuesday 6 Jan 2015Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Judges Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in Far from the Madding Crowd from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Saturday 10 Jan 2015Scrub ClearanceHolywell Cemetery, Oxford
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By the mid 19th. century the graveyards of the six parishes of central Oxford were full. In 1847 Merton College provided land for a new burial site behind St Cross Church - Holywell Cemetery. Today the site is managed and conserved by "The Friends of Holywell Cemetery" with help from OCV. We've spent several days here renovating the back wall of the cemetery but on today's saturday task we'll be clearing the graves, gravestones and surrounding grounds from resurgent brambles, nettles and assorted scrub.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 11 Jan 2015Grassland MaintenanceGrays Lane Bank, Ibstone, Buckinghamshire
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We're usually at Gray's Lane bank in the summer. On this winter visit we'll concentrate on the hawthorn that's encroaching on the grassland slope from the strips of woodland that border the edges of the site. This is a privately owned SSSI in a lovely fold of the Chilterns just to the East of the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire border. There's no public access to the site so if you want to make your own way there please contact the task leader in advance.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ed Polehampton

Tuesday 13 Jan 2015Curry 7.30pmQumins Indian Restaurant
Beat the January blues with curry at this Indian restaurant in East Oxford, which was apparently rated 7th in the whole of the UK. The social secretary can particularly recommend the fish dishes, and they have everything else you'd expect to be on the menu as well. Afterwards we may go for a beer nearby. You don't have to be a regular volunteer to come along; everyone is welcome. Email socials@ocv.org.uk if you're planning to come so we have an accurate idea of numbers for reserving a table.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 18 Jan 2015Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our first visit of the year to this National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns. The site is neatly bisected by the M40, which, in the dusk of a winter's afternoon, appears to be a moving river of light. Tasks at this time of year usually involve coppicing woodland, or tackling the hawthorn, bramble and scrub that encroaches on the chalk slopes. As usual, we'll be working with one of the Natural England wardens who manage the Reserve. Make sure you're on the OCV mailing list for detailed information nearer the day.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 25 Jan 2015CoppicingPissen Wood, Oxfordshire
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Pissen Wood is a privately owned, semi-ancient mixed coppice woodland in south Oxfordshire, near Henley-on-Thames. We were last here in October 2013 and today we'll coppice another section. Coppicing creates open areas where light can reach the woodland floor and allow a more diverse range of flora to develop. It also prolongs the life of the trees and results in food and habitat for small mammals and invertebrates and the birds which feed on them. On our last visit we devised different methods to protect the coppiced stools from being grazed by deer. It will be interesting to see how successful they've been.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Chris Skepper

Saturday 31 Jan 2015Site MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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The Trap Grounds is a small pocket of the countryside in the middle of urban north Oxford hard by the canal. It's managed by a local volunteer group, The Friends of The Trap Grounds, and includes woodland, ponds, and areas of meadow and marsh. There's usually a variety of tasks to keep us busy here, and there will be more information about today's work posted in the weekly email. Back in the summer of 2013 we helped the Friends construct a kingfisher nesting bank and, in the expectation that the bank will have settled since then, there are plans to remove its external supports sometime soon - maybe today.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 1 Feb 2015Coppicing and PollardingDuke's Lock Pond
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This is a new site for OCV just to the West of Duke's Lock on the Oxford Canal about 1 km North of Wolvercote. It's a wetland with a pond and an extensive reed bed set between the Oxford Canal, Duke's Cut that links the canal with the Thames at King's Lock, and the main railway line into North Oxford. We'll be working on behalf of the Canal & River Trust to a management plan devised by BBOWT. We'll make a start by coppicing and pollarding the willows along the length of the eastern bank of the pond.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 3 Feb 2015Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in Far from the Madding Crowd from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 8 Feb 2015Hedge-LayingNorth Hinksey Nature Reserve
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Most of our hedge-laying is against the odds. The material in the hedges we usually work on is old, difficult to handle and awkwardly spaced. But the hedge we'll be working on today is a beauty: planted on purpose; grown to supple, early maturity; and never yet laid. There'll be some extensive siding-up needed and given the amount of top growth in the hedge it's likely that we'll also have a bonfire. We'll be working for the North Hinksey Parish Council.
Leader: Paul ClarkeDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 15 Feb 2015Fencing and Kissing Gate InstallationCothill National Nature Reserve
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The plan for today is to continue the work we began here last October. So we'll be completing the post and wire fence that borders the main path around the edge of the reserve and starting work to replace two stiles with two kissing gates. If the ground is iron hard or covered in snow then we'll make alternative arrangements for today's task, so make sure you're on the OCV mailing list for the weekly email posting.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 22 Feb 2015Reserve MaintenanceJubilee Fields and Long Meadow, Wootton, West Oxfordshire
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Last autumn, a significant number of large willows were felled on the banks of the rivers that run through the water meadows of Jubilee Fields. The timber and brash were gathered in great piles and today we'll dispose of as much as we can burn in a day's work. We don't usually require more than three bonfires, which is why today's task may prove to be unusual. There's also some repair work to be done on some post and rail fencing, and a sign to be erected.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ray Hitchins

Saturday 28 Feb 2015Reserve MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Another Saturday task at the Trap Grounds, an extensive urban wildlife site in North Oxford. As usual, we'll be working alongside the Friends of The Trap Grounds on a range of seasonal jobs which at this time of year might include bramble bashing, coppicing, or path maintenance. With a bit of luck we'll also be able to enjoy one of Mary's cracking bonfires. There'll be more details posted nearer the day in the weekly OCV email.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 1 Mar 2015CoppicingBrasenose Wood, Oxford
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The greater part of Brasenose Wood is an ancient remnant of Shotover Forest with a documented history dating back to medieval times. These days the wood is part of an SSSI managed by Oxford City Council and today's task will involve more work on one of the large central plots. On our visit last December we concentrated on the protection of previously coppiced stools, today we'll aim to fell more timber.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 3 Mar 2015Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in Far from the Madding Crowd from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 8 Mar 2015Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our March visit to this National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns, owned and managed by Natural England. You'll recognise the landscape if you've ever travelled towards London on the M40. Indeed, you'll see up close the chalk geology that determines the character of the reserve together with its fauna and flora as you drive through the immense cutting in the hillside. Today we'll be helping the wardens care for the grassland, or the woods and paths that sit on top of the chalk. Full details will be in the email sent to the mailing list, so make sure you're signed up and then come along and join in.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Tim Howard

Tuesday 10 Mar 2015Pub 7pmSt Aldate's Tavern
Meet for food and/or few drinks at the St Aldates Tavern in central Oxford. There's usually a good selection of local ales. Come along at 7pm for food, or any time afterwards if you want to join us for a drink. Email socials@ocv.org.uk if you want us to look out for you, otherwise just turn up.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 15 Mar 2015Site MaintenanceWoodstock Water Meadows
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There's a change of plan for today's task. It's been decided that it's too late in the year to coppice. Instead of which we'll be working on the willows on site, and in the ditches and channels that run through the meadows. We cut a good deal of willow last December and today we'll burn as much of it as we can. There's also some fallen and hanging timber that needs to be laid to rest. It'll be wet underfoot, so bring wellies!
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 22 Mar 2015Reserve MaintenanceSydlings Copse, North-East Oxford
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One of our favourite sites. It's a mixture of heath, wetland, and woodland, tucked away in a valley just to the North of Barton. The Copse is managed by BBWOT. On our last visit we worked on the fenland area removing fallen timber, willow and assorted encroaching scrub. In the past we've also worked on the sandy heath-land, so watch out for the weekly email for further details. It's quite a walk to shift all our tools and kit from the roadside parking place into the Sydling's Copse reserve but it's invariably worthwhile, come and see why!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 29 Mar 2015Dry Stone WallingDeddington Parish, North Oxfordshire
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The return of British Summer Time (don't forget to adjust your clocks) marks the end of our winter activities and a turn to constructive conservation tasks, and tasks don't come more literally constructive than dry stone walling. Today we return to the long boundary wall at Deddington Castle. The aim is to finish work here this spring. If you haven't done any walling before this is a great chance to try your hand. Some love it, some hate it, but the only way to find out is to do it.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 5 Apr 2015Woodland ManagementPissen Wood, Oxfordshire
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Pissen Wood is a privately owned woodland close to Henley. We've coppiced the hazel in the wood on previous occasions only to see the re-growth from the coppiced stools heavily grazed by deer, apparently mostly by fallow deer, but with some muntjac too. So the plan is to return early in the spring to install some temporary protective cages around the coppiced stools to make sure that the hazel has a chance to regenerate.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 7 Apr 2015Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in a pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 12 Apr 2015Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our April visit to this important National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns. It's a site that includes important chalk grassland grazed by flocks of sheep. We'll be working with one of the wardens from Natural England who manage the site. At this time of year that might involve looking after the sheep themselves, working to further conditions that favour the flora and fauna special to the site, or maintaining good public access along the various paths. Full details will be in the weekly email as usual. By the way, if you've ever thought about leading an OCV task, then an Aston Rowant task would be a good one to start with - contact Phil Hunter at tasks@ocv.org.uk for details.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ed Polehampton

Tuesday 14 Apr 2015Pizza 7pmThe White Rabbit
Come along to the White Rabbit to enjoy the best pizza in Oxford (allegedly). They also serve a good selection of beers. You don't have to be a regular volunteer to come to a social, everyone is welcome. As usual email socials@ocv.org.uk to let us know you're coming.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 19 Apr 2015Pond WorkMilham Ford Nature Park
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Milham Ford Nature Park stream and ponds were created in 2008-2009 in an area that had previously been 8 tarmac tennis courts for use of Milham Ford School. A stream which had been piped underground across the playing field was brought to the surface, meandered and now feeds a complex of 4 interlinked ponds which have been planted up by members of the New Marston Wildlife Group (their name has changed to Friends of Milham Ford Nature Park). The aquatic planting is now beginning to encroach on the open water needed by dragon flies and other aquatic invertebrates, so we'll be wading in to dig some of it out. It will be wet, mucky, and smelly although there's also some work to be done on the banks if you'd rather stay dry, clean, and fragrant. Volunteer members of the Friends who regularly work in the park to manage the wildlife areas will join us on the day.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Friday 24 Apr 2015 -
Monday 27 Apr 2015
Brecon Beacons ResidentialBrecon Beacons National Park, Wales
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A weekend's conservation work in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. We'll be working with the National Trust, who manage large areas of this stunning mountainous landscape. In the past we've helped with making stone-pitched paths and steps, creating drainage channels, and clearing culverts. The aim of the work has been keeping popular mountain walking trails open and reducing erosion. We'll be staying in the National Trust bunkhouse, which is well-equipped with beds and showers, and we usually eat and drink well. The current plan is to go on Friday evening, stay 3 nights and return on Monday evening. Transport will be by minibus and sometimes an extra car, and further details will be sent by email nearer the time. Hope you can make it!
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 3 May 2015Dry Stone Walling & MaintenanceEnstone Sports and Social Club, Near Enstone, Oxfordshire
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Today we're heading out into North Oxfordshire and the village of Enstone. Our client is the local sports club, who have a dry stone wall around their sports ground. We did some work on the wall in 2013 and today we'll return to reconstruct two short, collapsed sections. Dry stone walls can provide useful habitat for invertebrates and small animals, certainly more than a mortared wall or fence. We're hoping to complete this job in just one session, so this is a great chance to take part in all stages of the job: dismantling the wall, sorting stone and rebuilding it. We'll also look to prolong the life of the wall by carefully removing some invasive ivy.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 5 May 2015Annual General Meeting at 8pmCape of Good Hope
The Annual General Meeting will be held at 8pm on Tuesday the 5th May in the upstairs room of the Cape of Good Hope pub (on the Plain at the corner of Cowley and Iffley roads). Everyone is welcome at the AGM, however often you come out on tasks, or if you just want to find out what we've been up to over the last year. We'll have a report about the previous year, and then elect the committee for next year. The official meeting shouldn't take too long, and then we'll be staying for a drink and chat in the pub. If anyone is interested in standing for a committee position, please email secretary@ocv.org.uk before Tuesday 28th April.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 10 May 2015Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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We're back to one of our favourite sites this week. We'll be helping the reserve warden maintain the nationally important calcareous grassland habitat. At this time of year we might actually begin to see some of the rare plants that our work helps to protect. We'll most likely be helping out with fence and gate repairs, looking after one of the flocks of sheep or doing whatever other maintenance jobs are required on the site. As usual everyone will be welcome and full details of the project and the meeting place will be given in the weekly email.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 17 May 2015Dry Stone WallingDeddington Parish, North Oxfordshire
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Just over two years ago (April 2013) we started work on the wall that bounds the approach to Deddington Castle. By the end of today we should be in sight of the end, of the task that is, not the wall. Dry stone walls can provide a good home for a range of wildlife, providing shelter for invertebrates, small mammals and even lizards. If you've never done this before this is a great opportunity to have a go at a traditional countryside craft. As usual no experience is necessary and it's one of the few conservation activities we do that doesn't really need any tools.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 24 May 2015Bee Wall ConstructionMilham Ford Nature Park
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Some bees are solitary creatures, but no less in need of suitable habitat for being so. Today's task involves the construction of a bee wall in one of the south-facing banks of the stream that feeds the ponds at Milham Ford Park. The plan is to excavate a wide shelf in the side of the bank to make room for layers of stone and soft mortar that should provide a desirable, indeed ideal, location. We'll be working for, and hopefully with, members of The New Marston Wildlife Group.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Phil Hunter

Thursday 28 May 2015Walk along the riverThe Head Of The River
A walk along the river. We'll start at the Head of the River at 6.45pm and stroll along the towpath to Sandford for a bite to eat at the Kings Arms at Sandford lock and a walk back. Email socials@ocv.org.uk to let me know you're planning to come so I can include you on the table booking.
Contact: Chris

Saturday 30 May 2015Boardwalk Construction ISeacourt Nature Park, Oxford
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The first of two consecutive days of construction work at Seacourt Nature Park in West Oxford on behalf of the City Council. The site is managed as grassland habitat and serves as the flood plain for the Seacourt stream. The plan is to build a new boardwalk across a wide, boggy depression that tends to flood in winter. On Saturday, day one, we'll dismantle the old sleeper walkway, then lay out and erect the frame of the new boardwalk by driving in the posts and attaching the bearers that will support the joists.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 31 May 2015Boardwalk Construction IISeacourt Nature Park, Oxford
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Our second day's work on a new boardwalk at Seacourt Nature Park. Today, Sunday, we'll complete the frame then install the joists, boards, and kick-boards. We'll be working with recycled, heavy duty plastic materials to a prearranged design, similar in all respects to the boardwalk installed at Lye Valley.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 2 Jun 2015Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in a pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 7 Jun 2015FencingCrecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire
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The Crecy Hill Local Nature Reserve is set on a slope of the Cherwell Valley with open views to the East across the river and canal. Today we'll be making extensive repairs to the fence that runs along the length of the reserve at the top of the slope. Two straining posts need to be replaced, and there's a new clapper-post needed on a pedestrian gate. If we've time we'll also replace a stile. The plan is to make today one of our occasional training days, so we'll have some professional tuition in the not so gentle art of post and wire fence construction. If you've ever wondered what a 'monkey strainer' is, still more how you might actually use one, then today's the day to find out.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 14 Jun 2015Dry Stone Walling and Site MaintenanceDeddington Parish, North Oxfordshire
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Exactly what we do today will depend on the progress we make with the wall on our visits in March and May - so watch this space! It's likely that there may still be some lime-mortar capping to complete. Otherwise we'll be busy with odd jobs in the dry moat, or on the paths and hedge boundaries at this former residence of Bishop Odo, half-brother of William the Conqueror. Full details will be advertised nearer the day in the OCV weekly task email, so make sure you're on our mailing list!
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 21 Jun 2015Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our June visit to this important National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns. It's a site that includes important chalk grassland grazed by flocks of sheep. We'll be working with a warden from Natural England. At this time of year it's likely that we'll be working to improve public access on the site by working on paths, hand-rails and gates, or repairing post and wire fences. Whatever the work, and whatever the weather, full details will be in the weekly email as usual.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ed Polehampton

Tuesday 23 Jun 2015Punting 7pmCherwell Boat House
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Our annual punting social is a long-established OCV tradition. The plan is to take a picnic and punt up the river until we reach a suitable spot to stop and eat it. Punt hire is usually 6-8 pounds and we start from the Cherwell Boat House. Falling-in is optional, but encouraged. Email socials@ocv.org.uk if you want to come and then meet on the day with some food and drink to share.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 28 Jun 2015Fen RakingLye Valley, Oxford
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Today we'll be working with the Friends of Lye Valley at this SSSI in East Oxford. There's one valley, but two fens: the North fen and the South fen. Today we'll be working on the North fen, access is via a path off the Slade. It's important to cut and rake the fens to keep the nutrients in the soil low, which favours the rare marshland plants on site. The council will have cut the margins of both fens and we'll rake the North fen today and the other next Sunday. Ecologist and Lye Valley expert Judy Webb is usually on hand to explain the significance of what we're doing and to point out some of the extraordinary wildlife that depends on this special habitat.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 5 Jul 2015Fen RakingLye Valley, Oxford
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You don't rake a fen for months on end, then two come along one after the other. There are two fens at Lye Valley: one to the North, off the Slade; and one to the South, by the golf course.Today we'll be working on the South fen. Watch out for the weekly email for details. Once again, we'll be joined by the enthusiastic Friends of Lye Valley, and the very enthusiastic Judy Webb, who usually manages to find, and photograph, all kinds of fascinating things (click on 'Reserves', then 'Lye Valley', then 'Photos'). It's the kind of job that needs lots of people, so come along and lend a hand. If there's been rain, you'll need wellies.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Ray Hitchins

Tuesday 7 Jul 2015Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in a pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 12 Jul 2015Scrub BashingMilham Ford Nature Park
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Note the change of task! The planned work at Holywell Cemetery has been postponed because of road closures in central Oxford. So today we'll stay local with more work at Milham Ford Nature Park. There's lots of light scrub on the site (bramble, great willowherb, and giant horsetail, for example) that needs cutting or pulling. We'll be joined by Judy Webb for the morning session.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 19 Jul 2015Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our regular monthly visit to Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns. The site is run by Natural England and, as usual, we'll be working under the guidance of one of the site wardens. Summer time work at Aston Rowant could be fencing, path work, or looking after the sheep. As usual, the details of the planned work will be announced on the mailing list in the week preceding the task. So if you're not already on our mailing list, then now is the time to join it.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 26 Jul 2015Change of Task! - Site MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Note the late change of task! The work at Grays Lane Bank required dry conditions. As the forecast is for persistent rain we've switched the task to the Trap Grounds in central Oxford. Note that the usual access from the Frenchay Road canal bridge is obstructed so we'll be going in via the Aristotle Lane canal bridge. We'll be carrying out general site maintenance: bramble bashing, some rubbish digging, and some pollarding and coppicing of willows. Bring waterproofs!
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 2 Aug 2015Reed CuttingIffley Island, Oxford
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Another OCV task for high summer: our regular cut of this SSSI by the Thames, organized in association with BBOWT. Despite its name the site is not quite an island, but there are houseboats on an inlet to one side and the open river to another. We'll cut the sedgy grass and reeds and rake the cuttings off so they won't enrich the soil. The end result is beneficial to the wild flowers on the site, and, in particular, to the fritillaries hereabouts.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 4 Aug 2015Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in a pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 9 Aug 2015Grass RakingSt Mary's Fields, Kidlington, Oxfordshire
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As last summer, we'll be working with the determined group of volunteers who maintain this popular conservation area owned by the local parish council and situated between St. Mary's Church and the river Cherwell. The job is to rake off the mown material from the yearly grass-cut. This is important to keep the fertility of the soil low and so encourage the rarer plants and wildflowers. It will be hard, but straightforward work and important for biodiversity. It's a big site, and a big task, but there'll be plenty of tea and cake to keep you going.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Jo Gay

Tuesday 11 Aug 2015Pub 8pmThe Turf Tavern
Join us at the Turf Tavern for a drink, or several. There are usually a good selection of ales, and probably other drinks too. We'll probably have to fight for space with the tourists at this Oxford landmark but there is usually plenty of seating outside if the weather is kind to us. You don't have to be a regular volunteer to come along - old and new faces are welcome. No need to tell us you're coming, but email socials@ocv.org.uk if you have questions.
Contact: Chris

Saturday 15 Aug 2015Task Cancelled!Holywell Cemetery, Oxford
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We can't find a driver for today, so the task is cancelled! Phil will try and reschedule it later on in the Summer programme. Holywell Cemetery is as close to central Oxford as we can get. We've been working on and off to restore the back wall of the Cemetery, and today we'll look to repair and extend the mortar capping of another section. The site is maintained and managed by the Friends of Holywell Cemetery, with open public access and partly serves as an urban wildlife space. As well as the wall repairs we'll also do some careful scrub bashing.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 16 Aug 2015Reserve Maintenance & Scythe TrainingAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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In the past an August task at Aston Rowant has often seen us tending either to fences or to sheep. But whether the work involves animate or inanimate objects this National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns is an OCV favourite. Today's task will also include scythe training for those volunteers who have reserved a place: see the general email posted to the mailing list headed 'OCV Scythe Training Summer 2015' for details, or contact Phil (tasks@ocv.org.uk). OCV can offer this free to volunteers thanks to a generous grant from the University of Oxford Community Fund.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 23 Aug 2015Reed CuttingEnslow Marsh, Oxfordshire
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A new site for OCV. Enslow Marsh lies between the River Cherwell and the Oxford Canal, a few hundred metres East of the Enslow Marina and Wharf. The marsh habitat, a sedgebed, is relatively rare in Oxfordshire and we'll be working to a new management plan devised by BBOWT. The aim is to clear selected areas to provide some variation in the density of vegetation. Wellies advised, even in August.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 30 Aug 2015Wall Repairs and Site ManagementHolywell Cemetery, Oxford
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We've problems with our email list this week so there won't be a general email about today's task, but it will go ahead! We'll make the van pick-ups as usual and we'll be on site shortly after 9.30. I'm told that there are blackberries, so bring containers to harvest the berries before you bash the brambles. We've been working on and off to restore the back wall of Holywell Cemetery for a couple of summers now, and today we'll look to repair and extend the mortar capping of another section. The site is maintained and managed by the Friends of Holywell Cemetery, with open public access and partly serves as an urban wildlife space. As well as the wall repairs we'll also bash back some bramble.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Chris Skepper

Tuesday 1 Sep 2015Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in a pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 6 Sep 2015Fencing and Reserve MaintenanceJubilee Fields and Long Meadow, Wootton, West Oxfordshire
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We've a mixed bag of things to tackle at this lovely site between the rivers Glyme and Dorn. The main job will involve extensive repairs to the fences on the site. We'll also be pulling some ragwort from fields used to graze animals, and, if time, installing some bird-boxes.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 13 Sep 2015Mortar Capping and Site MaintenanceDeddington Parish, North Oxfordshire
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Today should see our final day's work on the dry stone wall that borders the lane to Deddington Castle. Many hands have moved many stones to get us this far. All that remains to do is to cap the final section of wall with lime mortar. That said, mixing and applying the capping will probably be a day's work in itself, although there'll be other tasks to tackle as well if you don't fancy mortar-boarding.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 20 Sep 2015Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Another of our monthly visits to our most regular work site: a National Nature Reserve on the Chiltern escarpment just above the Ridgeway footpath. On a clear day there are extensive views across Aylesbury Vale past, and sometimes over, the Red Kites that cruise the updrafts. In the Summer months it's likely that we'll be looking after one of the reserve's flocks of sheep, or doing some fence or path work. Whatever the task, we'll be working with a highly-knowledgeable warden from Natural England. The exact details will be announced nearer the time on the OCV email list.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: John Worth

Saturday 26 Sep 2015Site Maintenance & Scythe TrainingTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Another day at this special location in North Oxford managed by the Friends of Trap Grounds (http://trap-grounds.org.uk/). Recently granted the status of Local Wildlife Site we'll be helping out with work in the reed beds and the meadows. Today's task will include scythe training for those volunteers who have reserved a place: see the general email posted to the mailing list headed 'OCV Scythe Training Summer 2015' for details, or contact Phil (tasks@ocv.org.uk). OCV can offer this free to volunteers thanks to a generous grant from the University of Oxford Community Fund.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 27 Sep 2015Watercourse MaintenanceThe Waterways, North Oxford
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Hook Meadow SSSI drains into The Trap Grounds in North Oxford via a narrow brook that's much more significant than an important drain: it serves as a wildlife corridor and a habitat for amphibians, reptiles and semi-aquatic mammals. Part of the planned work here last year was cancelled due to the likely presence of water voles. If the brook is to fully realize its conservation function, then the work is best done by hand rather than mechanically, so we've been asked back by the residents' management committee to do a repeat job. Bring Wellingtons.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ray Hitchins

Saturday 3 Oct 2015Bird Hide Repair and Site MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Another Saturday task at the Trap Grounds: a small pocket of countryside in the middle of urban north Oxford between the canal and the railway. A group of local residents fought and won an epic legal battle to stop it being developed for housing. It's now a designated Local Wildlife Site and consists of several interrelated habitats: ponds, wetland, woodland, and meadow. Come along and help out with a variety of tasks including repairs to the vandalised bird hide.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 4 Oct 2015Pond Work and Scrub BashingMilham Ford Nature Park
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Milham Ford Nature Park stream and ponds were created in 2008-2009 in the grounds of what used to be the playing fields of Milham Ford School. A stream which had been piped underground across the playing field was brought to the surface, meandered and now feeds a complex of 4 interlinked ponds which have been planted up by members of the New Marston Wildlife Group. We did some work clearing the ponds back in April and today we'll return to tackle more unwanted vegetation in and out of the pond. Volunteer members of the NMWG who regularly work in the park to manage the wildlife areas will join us on the day.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Ray Hitchins

Tuesday 6 Oct 2015Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in a pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 11 Oct 2015Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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The beech woodland of the Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve always looks magnificent from October to the onset of winter. This month's visit will most likely see us working in the woods themselves or on the more open slopes of the escarpment cutting back invasive scrub and undergrowth. As usual, we'll be working with one of the reserve wardens, and, again as usual, the details will be announced in the weekly OCV email. Please note there will be no minibus pickup from St. Giles. We will be outside the Tesco Metro on Cowley Road at 09:30 as usual.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Tuesday 13 Oct 2015Curry 7.30pmKadai & Naan Restaurant, Cowley Road
Come and join us for Nepalese and Tibetan food at this well-regarded restaurant on Cowley Road. Everyone is welcome, even if you're not a regular volunteer. Email socials@ocv.org.uk if you'd like to come so we can book a table.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 18 Oct 2015Fen Raking 1Lye Valley, Oxford
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Today is the first of two days work in Lye Valley, Headington. The early autumn cut of the two fens in the valley, the North fen and the South fen, is the major cut of the year. Oxford City Council will do the cutting and we'll do the clearing with help from the Friends of Lye Valley. Ecologist and Lye Valley expert Judy Webb will be with us too. (See a selection of her photographs taken on site in the photo gallery.) Which of the two fens we'll be working on today will be announced in the weekly email preceding the task, so make sure you're on the OCV mailing list! Wellies recommended.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Saturday 24 Oct 2015Site MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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A day's work at The Trap Grounds usually involves a mix of conservation work: coppicing, pond-work, bramble bashing, and, given the Grounds history as a town dump, the exhumation of some extraordinary junk. We'll be working with The Friends of The Trap Grounds as usual. Watch out for more details via the mailing list nearer the day.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 25 Oct 2015Fen Raking 2Lye Valley, Oxford
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Day two in Lye Valley. Whichever fen we raked last Sunday, today we'll rake the other one! Check the general email that will be circulated sometime in the preceding week. There's also a chance we'll be cutting back and pollarding encroaching willow. OCV have been involved with the Lye Valley Nature Reserve in East Oxford for many years now. Even though it's a small acreage, it's an important, long-standing, and relatively rare, urban habitat. As last week, if there's been rain you'll need wellies. Note that today marks the end of British Summer Time!
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 1 Nov 2015Site MaintenanceDuke's Lock Pond
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We first worked at this relatively isolated site in North Oxford last February, to a management plan devised by BBOWT, and today we'll return to take it a stage further. There's a considerable amount of resurgent growth in the coppiced and pollarded willows to take out, more coppicing to be done, and bramble thickets to tackle.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 3 Nov 2015Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in a pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Saturday 7 Nov 2015Site MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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There's the usual mixture of jobs to tackle today: willows to pollard, brambles to bash, and rubbish to shift. There are also plans to reinforce one of the pedestrian routes through the site with a layer of Terram fabric matting as the base for a stone and gravel path way. We'll be working with the Friends of The Trap Grounds.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 8 Nov 2015Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Another of our monthly visits to Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve, managed by Natural England and situated in the heart of the Chilterns. It's home to juniper on growing on chalk grassland, sheep, valuable native woodland, an abundance of red kites, and orchids and other rare wild flowers. Exactly what we do today, and where, will be announced in the weekly email.
Leader: Simon CollinsDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 15 Nov 2015Scrub ClearanceIsland Pond Wood, Launton, Bicester
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A new site for OCV. Island Pond Wood was created by local residents from farm land in 1999 in association with the Woodland Trust. It's now managed by The Friends of Island Pond Wood and we'll be helping them tackle a dense thicket of mixed scrub, mostly blackthorn, that's grown up along one of the boundaries.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 22 Nov 2015Reserve MaintenanceJubilee Fields and Long Meadow, Wootton, West Oxfordshire
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Jubilee Fields were purchased from the Duke of Marlborough by the Wootton Conservation Trust in 2003 to mark the Queen's jubilee. It's a lovely site at any time of year lying between the rivers Glyme and Dorn, and, as usual, there are several parts to today's task: some sections of the post and rail fencing on the site are in urgent need of repair; there are sign-posts to erect; and timber to burn.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 29 Nov 2015Scrub ClearanceWatlington Hill, Watlington, South Oxfordshire
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Today we'll be working with the warden from the National Trust on this stunning site in the Chilterns AONB along with locals from the Friends of Watlington Hill. We'll most likely be doing some kind of scrub clearance work to increase the area of valuable and relatively rare chalk grassland. It's a great place to be: on a clear day there are extensive views across the Oxfordshire plain, occasionally interrupted by passing Red Kites.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Tim Howard

Tuesday 1 Dec 2015Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in a pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 6 Dec 2015Hedge-Laying Training Day
Today is another of our extraordinary training days: a one day course in hedge-laying. We'll be working on a farm to the south of Watlington at a location suggested by Nigel Adams, who will be directing the work and giving the training. For more on Nigel see http://nigeladamscountrysidemanagement.co.uk/nigel-adams-hedgelaying.php. Please note that this is not a normal task and there are just 10 places available, all of them taken. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis, although preference will be given to OCV leaders, drivers, and regulars. OCV can offer this free to volunteers thanks to the generosity of a grant from the University of Oxford Community Fund.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Friday 11 Dec 2015Christmas Party 7pmA house
Join us for this year's OCV Christmas party to celebrate another year's conservation achievements. It will get underway from 7pm, and be held at my house, which is about 15 mins by bus or bike from Oxford city centre. Please bring whatever food and drink you would like for yourself or to share. Email socials@ocv.org.uk for address and directions if you'd like to come. Hope you can make it!
Contact: Chris

Sunday 13 Dec 2015CoppicingBrasenose Wood, Oxford
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A return to Brasenose Wood for coppicing, but this time there's a difference. We'll be working with Shotover Wildlife who have been trialling a high-cut coppice regime. This compensates for the problem of deer grazing, especially in a woodland where species diversity is a priority. This winter we will help to deliver a new coup of high-cut coppice, identifying the tree species as we go. Brasenose Wood is great place for bird song and wildlife diversity, as well as a most atmospheric place for a day's work.
Leader: Simon CollinsDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 20 Dec 2015Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our final task of the year takes us back to a favourite site on the cusp of the Chilterns, managed by the wardens of Natural England. It's more likely than not that we'll be working either in the woods or on the grassland slopes, and it's odds on there'll be a bonfire to see out 2105. Exact details of the day's work will be posted in the weekly email, so make sure you're on the OCV mailing list!
Leader: Simon CollinsDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 27 Dec 2015A Sunday Off! Merry Christmas.