Task Programme

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Monday 2 Jan 2017Scrub Clearance & Yew PruningHolywell Cemetery, Oxford
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A special New Years' Bank Holiday task to blow away the festive fug. 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 as a unique kind of urban wildlife space by The Friends of Holywell Cemetery with help from OCV. We'll cut the invasive scrub, and prune back and tie in some of the yew trees.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Chris Skepper

Tuesday 3 Jan 2017Committee 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 the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 8 Jan 2017CoppicingBrasenose Wood, Oxford
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A return to Brasenose Wood. We'll continue the work we began last November and, as then, we'll be working with Shotover Wildlife who have been trialling a high-cut coppice regime. This is a technique designed to compensate for the problem of deer grazing, especially in a woodland where species diversity is a priority. The wood is a designated SSSI, a great place for bird song, and a rich habitat for a wide diversity of wildlife.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 15 Jan 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our first visit of the year to this National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns which has extensive views out over the Oxford plain. Tasks at this time of year usually involve coppicing woodland, or tackling the hawthorn, bramble and scrub that encroach on the chalk grassland 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: Tim HowardDriver: Ray Hitchins

Friday 20 Jan 2017 -
Sunday 22 Jan 2017
Reserve MaintenanceThe Flits NNR, Herefordshire
This weekend sees one of our occasional weekend trips away from Oxford. The Flits National Nature Reserve is situated in the flood plain of the River Wye, near Preston on Wye in Herefordshire. It's an area of low-lying grassland, fen, scrub and woodland on peaty soils. The Reserve warden, Bob Silverwood, is an old friend of OCV from his time at Aston Rowant and we'll be working with him to coppice alders and pollard willows - typical winter woodland work. The plan is to drive out on Friday evening, work Saturday and Sunday, then drive back to Oxford on Sunday evening. We'll spend two nights at the Moccas Village Hall, the same accommodation as our Herefordshire residential in May last year. Residentials are open to all OCV members, and if you are not a member yet, you can join at the time of booking.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ed Polehampton

Sunday 29 Jan 2017Conservation LandscapingTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Another visit to the Trap Grounds: a small pocket of countryside in the middle of urban north Oxford between the canal and the railway. Formerly a dump (literally!) it's now a designated Local Wildlife Site and consists of several interrelated habitats: ponds, wetland, woodland, and meadow. Despite years of successful reclamation work on the site there are still strata of junk and rubbish to be found and dug out in the more remote corners. The plan for today is to begin landscaping one of these corners. Come and have a go at some urban re-wilding!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Chris Skepper

Thursday 2 Feb 2017Pub Social 7pmThe Kings Arms, Broad Street
Join us for food or just for a drink at the King's Arms on Broad Street at 7pm. We'll be ordering food at 7pm and will stay around afterwards for a drink or several, so feel free to drop in whenever you want. You don't have to be a regular volunteer to come to socials. Email chair@ocv.org.uk for more information, or if you're new and want us to keep a look out for you.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 5 Feb 2017Scrub BashingGrim's Ditch, Blewbury, South Oxfordshire
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Grim's Ditch is a Scheduled Ancient Monument near the Ridgeway in the rolling, chalk downs south of Blewbury. It appears to have been a land boundary dating back to the later Iron Age. This section is jointly managed by English Heritage and Natural England. This will be scrub bashing with a view and with more than usual care as we're to take pains that we don't disturb the monument. It's a difficult site to find so make sure you're on the OCV email list for directions nearer the day.
Leader: Jo HaydukDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 7 Feb 2017Committee 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 the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 12 Feb 2017Hedge-LayingWindale Community Primary School, Blackbird Leys, Oxford
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We're back in urban south-east Oxford today to work in the garden and nature area at Windale Primary School. Back in 2013 we laid a stretch of their boundary hedge, last winter we laid the middle section (which looks in fine fettle) and today we'll complete the job. The unlaid portion of hedge has put on lots of top-growth in the meantime, so there will be plenty of siding-up to be done before we can get pleaching. Laying the hedge as best we can will make it a dense wildlife habitat and is far-preferable to trimming it.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 19 Feb 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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This week we make our February visit to one of our favourite sites in the Chiltern Hills. Well-known to travellers on the M40 for its huge numbers of red kites, this National Nature Reserve is owned and managed by Natural England for the benefit of wildlife and to maintain public access. We'll be helping out the wardens who manage it with the priority projects for this month whether it be scrub clearance, coppicing, or a little winter sheep work. Whichever, the work will be described in the weekly email, so now's a good time to check you're on our mailing list. We're always looking for volunteers to lead tasks. If you'd like to help out, then this would be a good one to start with. If you're interested contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Chris Skepper

Saturday 25 Feb 2017Scrub ClearanceSwyncombe Estate, South Oxfordshire
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Swyncombe Estate consists of over 600 acres of high, mature beech woodland and chalk grassland in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding National Beauty. For today's task, another occasional Saturday outing, we'll be cutting scrub on Sliding Hill, the western extension of Swyncombe Down, just south of the village of Watlington. This will help maintain the unimproved chalk grassland and hence the wild flower species special to the Chiltern hills. On a clear day there are extensive views across the surrounding landscape.
Leader: Jo HaydukDriver: Phil Hunter

Saturday 25 Feb 2017Post-task social - curry Chutneys, Indian restaurant
Join us at 18:00 for a curry at Chutneys Restaurant. You don't need to have been on the day's task (or ever been to one). Email enquiries@ocv.org.uk to book a place.
Contact: Tim

Sunday 26 Feb 2017Site MaintenanceStansfeld Park, Oxford
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Stansfeld Park in Headington Quarry is set within 18 acres of woodland with ponds, marshland and meadows. The undulating landscape results from quarrying for limestone in the area that was used to build many of Oxford's colleges, churches and civic buildings. When quarrying ended, a variety of habitats formed, including limestone grassland, ash and hazel woodland, dense hawthorn scrub, ponds and wetland. The Oxford Trust has taken over the development and management of the site as a combined innovation and science education centre, and as a new space for the local community to enjoy. For more information see http://theoxfordtrust.co.uk/stansfeld-education-centre/ ('Rejuvenating Stansfeld'). Precise details of the day's work will be circulated in the weekly email so make sure you're on the list!
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 5 Mar 2017Reserve MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Another day's work 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 anything from bramble bashing, path maintenance, landscaping, or early season work on the meadow areas. There'll be more details posted nearer the day in the weekly OCV email.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Tuesday 7 Mar 2017Committee 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 the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 12 Mar 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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An early Spring 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 and 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. As usual, everyone's welcome! This is a big site so watch out for the weekly email for precise details as to the location of today's task.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Thursday 16 Mar 2017Pizza Social - 7pmPizzeria da Mario
A chance to enjoy the finest pizza in Oxford at Mario's on Cowley Road. There's also other traditional Italian food on the menu, including a great range of pasta dishes. Afterwards we'll probably go for a drink at The Star, so feel free to meet us there later if you prefer. You don't have to be a regular volunteer to come to a social - everyone is welcome. Let me know on socials@ocv.org.uk if you'll be coming so I know numbers for booking a table. Hope you can make it!
Contact: Chris

Sunday 19 Mar 2017Reserve 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 likely to be several parts to today's task, including, at the time of writing, some elementary bridge repairs.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 26 Mar 2017Dry Stone WallingDeddington Parish, North Oxfordshire
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Over previous years we've spent many happy hours hard labour on the drystone wall at the Deddington Castle site, and the plan for today is to start work on the final, most heavily overgrown section. We'll clear and then dismantle around three meters of half-collapsed wall, sort the stone, locate and prepare more material for the rebuilding, and lay the foundations. If there's enough of us, there's also work to do shifting cut and fallen timber from the ramparts on the eastern side of the site. As usual, we'll be working for Deddington Parish Council. Note that British Summer Time began at midnight last night! Oh yes, and it's Mothers' Day, that's OK - she can come too.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 2 Apr 2017Reserve 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're always looking for new task leaders (OCV depends on some volunteers being willing to lead) and an Aston Rowant task is a great opportunity to try it out under the supervision of one of the Natural England wardens, either Mick or Kate, who manage the site. Contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk for more details. At this time of year we might be looking after the sheep themselves, improving conditions for 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.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Nic Bricknell

Tuesday 4 Apr 2017Committee 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 the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 9 Apr 2017Woodland MaintenanceCumnor Hurst Community Woodland
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Back in 2011 we helped establish this 17 acre community woodland by planting a range of native trees. Six years later we've been asked back to help out with some maintenance.The site is adjacent to the Hurst Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Most of the woodland is now planted, but there's a need to fill-in and re-stock some areas. We'll be working alongside local residents to knock back the weedy undergrowth and then mulch with biochar to give the more recently planted saplings the best chance to thrive. By the way, on that February day in 2011 we also put up a shed - it's still looking good!
Leader: Tim EvansDriver: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 16 Apr 2017Dry Stone WallingRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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Rectory Farm Fields is an extensive area of open ground just to the east of Church Street, Kidlington. We'll be working for a private client who wants to manage the land for its natural flora and fauna. BBOWT and the RSPB have made encouraging reports on the site's present and future significance for local wild life. The long term plan is to restore what were once extensive hedge and wall lines. Dry stone walls can make for a good home for a range of wildlife, providing shelter for invertebrates, small mammals and 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. Come along and see if you've got the knack!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Alison Hopkin

Sunday 23 Apr 2017Reed Cutting & RakingSimon's Land, Sandford on Thames, Oxford
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This secluded half acre of gently sloping reed-bed leads down to the Thames to the north of Sandford. The river bank was once the mooring site of the former Magdalen College Barge. In March 2007 the land was donated to the Oxford Preservation Trust by Mr and Mrs Simons of Boars Hill. Last summer we mowed and raked the site to enhance the potential for native flora. As last year we'll be using our Austrian scythes. Today's task will be the first of two cuts this summer in line with a management plan to keep on top of the re-growth. It's likely to be wet underfoot so bring wellies!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Saturday 29 Apr 2017Boardwalk Construction & Site Maintenance IStansfeld Park, Oxford
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Today sees one of our occasional Saturday tasks, the first of two consecutive days work at Stansfeld Park. For more on the exciting prospects for Stansfeld Park under the management of The Oxford Trust see their website: http://theoxfordtrust.co.uk/stansfeld-education-centre/. There's plenty to do, and we'll focus on two main tasks: the first is to dismantle and replace a decayed 6 meter stretch of rotten boardwalk in the woods at the northern end of the site; the second is to begin removing extensive areas of invasive couch grass.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Alison Hopkin

Sunday 30 Apr 2017Boardwalk Construction & Site Maintenance IIStansfeld Park, Oxford
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What precisely we tackle today (Sunday) will depend on how we got on yesterday. There may be more work to be done on the boardwalk as there's a freestanding handrail to add on either side of it. In any case, there's more than enough couch grass in the woods and meadow areas to keep us busy. Another proposal is that we reclaim as much as we can of the materials that were used in the old adventure/activity area of the site (decking, railway sleepers, posts and poles) for reuse in the future. As ever, look out for details nearer the day posted via the OCV email list.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 2 May 2017Annual General Meeting at 8pmTown Hall
The Annual General Meeting will be held at 8pm on Tuesday the 2nd May in the Jury Room at the Town Hall (on St. Aldates). 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 (you don't need to be a member). 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 heading to the Royal Blenheim pub for a drink. If anyone is interested in standing for a committee position, please email secretary@ocv.org.uk before Tuesday 25th April.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 7 May 2017Pond Work & Reserve MaintenanceMilham 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 the previous 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. We'll be in the ponds, working on the damn that separates two of them, and removing invasive plant growth to re-establish areas of open water beloved by dragonflies. There will also be work to be done on the banks and the pond surrounds if you'd rather not wade in.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 14 May 2017Dry Stone WallingRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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Today we'll crack on with the restoration of the dry stone walls that divide the site into discrete pastures and that provide an excellent habitat for a range of wildlife. That's in addition to the officially resident animal life: horses, and, last year, a couple of very inquisitive piglets. We'll be doing a short introduction to walling at the start of the day, so no experience is necessary. It's the kind of work that you learn by doing. But there is a kind of knack to it, so if you've done it before we will certainly need you!
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 21 May 2017Reserve 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 could 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. If you've ever thought about getting more involved as an OCV task leader then this would be a great one to start with. Contact Phil Hunter tasks@ocv.org.uk for more info.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 28 May 2017Access Construction WorkHeyford Meadow Nature Reserve
A new site for OCV. The meadow is hard by the Thames just North of Sandford and was bequeathed to the Oxford Preservation Trust in 2006. OPT has managed the site since with spectacular results. It's now a mixed habitat with meadow, wetland, ponds, and woodland. We've been tasked to improve the access at the northern end of the site. We'll relocate a pedestrian gate, make adjustments to some post and rail fencing, and install a short stretch of gravel pathway.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 4 Jun 2017Heath ManagementSydlings Copse, North-East Oxford
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Sydling's Copse is managed by BBOWT and today we'll be working to a management plan designed to tackle the invasive bracken that tends to dominate the heathland. We'll be cutting bracken then raking it clear. More specifically, we'll be using scythes and slashers, specific kinds of tool that require a little expertise to master, but that are wonderful to use once you've got the hang of them. This early summer cut will be followed up by another cut later in the year - a double whammy.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Volunteer to drive

Tuesday 6 Jun 2017Committee 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 the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 11 Jun 2017Reserve MaintenanceShotover Country Park, Oxford
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Another task working on behalf of the City Council on this popular, well used, and extensive site to the east of Oxford. The park contains one of the few areas of unimproved heath and acid grassland in Oxfordshire, and considerable conservation efforts have been made to maintain and reinstate areas of this important habitat. The plan at time of writing is to work on the south-facing heathland in Mary Sadler's Field. As usual, we'll be alongside members of Shotover Wildlife. Further details of today's task will be announced in the weekly email so make sure you're on the mailing list!
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Alison Hopkin

Sunday 18 Jun 2017Boardwalk ConstructionRivermead Nature Park
Rivermead Nature Park is a small 3 hectare site owned by Oxford City Council. It nestles between Rose Hill, the Oxford eastern Bypass and the river Thames, and it's one of the three sites originally nominated for special attention under the Wild Oxford initiative (search 'rivermead wild oxford' for more info, and the detailed reports on the site by ecologist Judy Webb). We'll spend today building a low-rise 10 meter boardwalk to traverse a poorly drained section of path that is more often a mud slide than a secure footway.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 25 Jun 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our monthly return 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. Early summer means it's likely that we'll be working to improve public access on the site by improving paths, installing 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: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Tuesday 4 Jul 2017Committee 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 the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Tuesday 8 Aug 2017Committee 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 the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed