Task Programme

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Sunday 6 Jan 2019Coppicing, Pollarding, & Stream-ClearingNorth Hinksey Nature Reserve
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This small, popular and well used urban reserve in West Oxford incorporates a number of distinct habitats: stream, pond and reed-bed, stands of willow and hazel, a meadow, a community orchard, and a splendidly variegated hedge, which we laid four years ago back in 2015. The hedge is in fine fettle and we'll be back this time in 2020 to lay the secondary re-growth. Today, however, we'll be coppicing hazel, pollarding willow, and opening up the banks of the stream. There'll be a bonfire to burn most of what we cut but we'll also aim to harvest stakes and binders for hedge-laying work elsewhere later in the season.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Dan Moden

Tuesday 8 Jan 2019Committee Meeting 8pmTown Hall
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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: Jenny

Sunday 13 Jan 2019CoppicingLangdon Wood, Aston Upthorpe
A new site for OCV just to the east of Grim's Ditch on the approaches to the Aston Upthorpe Downs south of Blewbury. The wood is a designated SSSI and is mostly mature hazel on the west facing slope of Langdon Hill. The landowner has a grant from Natural England to manage the site and we'll coppice a discrete area as part of an ongoing management plan. As last week we'll look to harvest stakes and binders.
Leader: Jenny HillDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 20 Jan 2019Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our first visit of the year to this National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns which commands extensive views across 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. Make sure you're on the OCV mailing list for detailed information nearer the day. We're always looking for volunteers who might lead tasks, indeed without leaders we couldn't keep going, and we're significantly short of volunteers prepared to lead at the moment. So if you're interested contact Phil Hunter via tasks@ocv.org.uk . At Aston Rowant we always work under the guidance of one of the Reserve wardens, so today would be a great opportunity to try it out.
Leader: Ray HitchinsDriver: Tim Howard

Wednesday 23 Jan 2019Music Night Social - 8.30pmThe Furry Mic at The Mad Hatter
For the first Social of 2019, we'll kick things off with a bit of music. We'll meet at 8:30pm at the Mad Hatter, in East Oxford, for their open mic night "The Furry Mic". Not to worry if you don't have any artistic flair, we'll be there to watch, although anyone is welcome to perform if they want! The bar has a good selection of beers and cocktails and 10% of their profits that night will go to OCV, so it's a unique way to support the organisation! Everyone is welcome, and it's a great way to find out more about OCV if you're thinking of getting involved in our weekly tasks. No need to RSVP, but feel free to contact socials@ocv.org.uk if you have any questions.
Contact: Anne

Sunday 27 Jan 2019Hedge-LayingRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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We're about half-way through the hedge-laying job at Rectory Farm Fields. It's a challenge to lay such an old and outgrown hedge-line but we made steady progess at the end of last year not least with some nicely sharpened, double-handed Yorkshire billhooks (see the photos in the website gallery). There will be the usual amount of hefty top-growth to take out which means a bonfire will be a necessary part of the day's work.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 3 Feb 2019Site MaintenanceStansfeld Park, Oxford
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The rejuvenation of Stansfeld by the Oxford Trust goes on apace in line with plans to open later this spring. Last December OCV teamed up with the Trust to run a corporate task day dedicated to the construction of a line of sleeper-steps. Part of today's task will involve the installation of three lengths (i.e. about 30 meters in total) of double handrail on either side and at the bottom of the steps. That gives us quite a few posts to drive in and there's bound to be complications caused by tree roots, so it might get interesting! There'll be some scrub bashing to do too.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 10 Feb 2019Willow PollardingAston's Eyot, Oxford
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Aston's Eyot is a large 30 acre site, literally speaking an island (hence 'Eyot') bordered by the Thames, Cherwell New Cut and Shire Lake Ditch, just downstream from Christ Church Meadow. The land is owned by Christ Church College and is managed by an enthusiastic Friends group with some help from the Oxford City Council. We'll be working for, and with, the Friends to pollard a line of large willows on the bank of the Shire Lake Ditch, north of the Jackdaw Lane Entrance, where the ditch diverges from the main channel of the river Cherwell. There shouldn't be any need for the bomb squad.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Friday 15 Feb 2019Caribbean Social - 7pmTurtle Bay
To kick the winter blues away, we'll pretend we're on a beach in the Caribbean! In reality, we'll be at Turtle Bay, a colourful restaurant in the centre of Oxford inspired by Caribbean beach shacks and street vendors, with a jerk pit barbecue. Come and join us from 7pm, there will be plenty of exotic dishes to choose from and they serve lovely cocktails. Please email socials@ocv.org.uk if you'd like to come, so we can book a table for the right number of people. You don't have to be a regular volunteer to come along, everyone is welcome and it's a great way of finding out about OCV or getting more involved. Hope to see you there!
Contact: Anne

Sunday 17 Feb 2019Reserve 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. A land-mark for travellers on the M40 and well-known for its huge numbers of red kites, this National Nature Reserve is owned and managed by Natural England. We'll be helping the wardens who manage the Reserve on whatever winter jobs they have in hand, 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: Ed Polehampton

Sunday 24 Feb 2019Scrub ControlSwyncombe 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. Today’s work site is on the northern side of Swyncombe Downs (click on the reserve name to see the Street Map on the website reserve page). From Cookley Green follow the minor road west past Swyncombe House to where the road makes an abrupt left turn. At this point there is limited parking in the copse to your right. The OCV van will be parked here. Follow the footpath uphill through the wood and pass through a kissing gate. Follow the path along the earthwork through another kissing gate, and walk towards Dean Wood. The work site is on your left hand side.
Leader: Jenny HillDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 3 Mar 2019Scrub ControlCrecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire
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Created in 1997, Crecy Hill Local Nature Reserve is a County Wildlife Site and Local Nature Reserve in Tackley, ten miles north of Oxford. The reserve is sited on the slope of a railway embankment with views across the open, rolling countryside opposite. We'll spend the day cutting back and burning extensive scrub to open up the paths and maintain access to the site.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 5 Mar 2019Committee MeetingTown Hall
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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 you're very welcome to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Jenny

Thursday 7 Mar 2019Wildlife Talk Social - 8pmMagdalen College Auditorium
For this social, we're heading along for a talk on "Securing nature’s recovery" by Estelle Bailey, Chief Executive of the largest local wildlife conservation charity in our area, the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust. As wildlife today faces many serious threats and is in general decline, the talk will cover what needs to be done to reverse the trends. Starting at 8pm at the Magdalen College Auditorium, the event is free and open to all. After the talk, we'll head for a drink somewhere nearby. As always, you don't have to be a regular volunteer to come - everyone is welcome. It's a great way to find out more about conservation in and around Oxford, and see if getting involved might be for you. Hope to see you there! socials@ocv.org.uk
Contact: Anne

Sunday 10 Mar 2019Willow PollardingBoundary Brook, Oxford
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In 1990 the Oxford Urban Wildlife Group converted a site of derelict allotments into a 3 acre nature reserve a stone's throw from the housing estates of east Oxford. There are now plans to breathe new life into the site under a joint venture involving BBOWT's Wild Oxford scheme, Oxford City Council, and a new local friends group. The site has gone unmanaged for several years so there's quite a bit of reclamation work to do, including the pollarding of some large willows in the south eastern corner of the site - which is what we'll tackle today.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ed Polehampton

Sunday 17 Mar 2019Hedge-LayingBurgess Field Nature Park, North Oxford
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There are many meters of hedge at Burgess Field and today we'll make a start on the active management of some them with a session of hedge-laying which might also include some replanting. We'll look to accommodate some on the job tuition in the task by pairing beginners with volunteers who have some experience. So if you'd like to come along, see what's involved, and try your hand, you'll be welcome. Laying a hedge well encourages thick, healthy re-growth which provides a perfect habitat for a range of wildlife.
Leader: Tim EvansDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 24 Mar 2019Reserve 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. We're always looking for volunteers who might lead tasks, indeed without leaders we couldn't keep going, so if you're interested contact Phil Hunter via tasks@ocv.org.uk . Any of our current leaders will be happy to help you get started by doubling up on a task to show you the ropes.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 31 Mar 2019Site 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 an enthusiastic volunteer group (The Friends of The Trap Grounds) and includes a range of habitats: woodland, ponds, reed-beds, and areas of meadow and marsh. It's a mark of how busy we've been that we haven't had a task here since last June, but today we'll be back to undertake some construction work which has still to be decided at the time of writing. We always have plenty to do at the Trap Grounds and the details will be circulated nearer the day, so, once again, make sure you're on the OCV mailing list!
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 2 Apr 2019Committee MeetingTown Hall
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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 you're very welcome to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 7 Apr 2019Reserve 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. We have a selection of jobs to tackle: A short stretch of post and rail fence repairs down by one of the rivers; some sparsely scattered infant scrub to cut; willows to dismember and burn; path-gravel to be laid; and a picnic table to level. Just how much of this we can get through will depend on the turn-out. The site is special for its water meadows, so if it's been raining you'll need wellingtons!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Thursday 11 Apr 2019Pub Quiz Social - 7.30pmThe Fir Tree
How good is your general knowledge? Let's find out during the classic Fir Tree Pub Quiz! We'll meet around 7:30 at this lively Victorian pub on Iffley Road for a bite to eat (they serve very nice pizzas) before we put our minds to the test. Email socials@ocv.org.uk if you'd like to come, so I can save you a seat! As always, you don't have to be a regular volunteer to join - everyone is welcome. It's a great way to meet OCVers and see if getting involved might be for you. Hope to see you there!
Contact: Anne

Sunday 14 Apr 2019Boardwalk Extension & Woodland ManagementMatthew Arnold Field, Oxford
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Matthew Arnold Field in Boars Hill is a mixed woodland and grassland site, named after the poet, cultural critic and influential schools' inspector Matthew Arnold. Today, as usual, we'll be working for the Oxford Preservation Trust. A couple of weeks short of ten years ago OCV built a boardwalk on site (see the photo gallery - 26 April 2009). It's still standing, and part of today's task is to extend it by a couple of meters to higher, dryer ground. If you were involved in the original construction it would be great to see you again today! We'll also be helping out with the relatively new management plan for the wood by hauling out and dismembering pre-cut timber. There's been some tree felling work over the winter and we'll be following that up by creating dead-hedges, log-pile habitats, and improvised dams. Although April puts us into the nesting season there shouldn't be any need to tackle uncut scrub. It will be wet underfoot so bring wellingtons!
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 21 Apr 2019Easter Day
A Sunday off as it's Easter Day, which gives our volunteer leaders and drivers a welcome break. If you think you could help out either by leading tasks or by driving for us please get in touch, you'll be welcomed with open arms. Contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk for more details. If you'd like to have a go at leading then next week would be a good one to try.
 

Sunday 28 Apr 2019Reserve 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 Steph, 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: Jenny HillDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 5 May 2019Reserve Maintenance & Pond 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 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 working in the ponds under the direction of freelance ecologist Judy Webb to dredge invasive plant growth and 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: Andy MoDriver: Dan Moden

Tuesday 7 May 2019Annual General MeetingTown Hall
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The Annual General Meeting will be held at 8pm on Tuesday the 7th 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 30th April.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 12 May 2019Fen Cutting & RakingHinksey Heights Fen
This is a new site for OCV. There are a number of small valleys with streams that run in parallel down onto the Thames flood plain to the south-west of Oxford. Each of them offers the potential to form a relatively rare fen habitat. Raleigh Park and the Chilswell Valley are two such places and between them lies the Hinksey Heights Fen. So today we'll aim to cut and clear a section of the reed-bed in this third valley. The aim is to create a network of contiguous habitats of the same kind. This will be our first outing of the season with our set of Austrian scythes. If you've worked with us at Lye Valley you'll know what to expect. For more information see the Oxfordshire Fens Project (https://freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/projects/oxfordshire-fens-project/).
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Wednesday 15 May 2019Talk + Food Social - 6pmOxford Brookes Headington Campus
For this social, we're heading along for a talk on "Utopia in the Anthropocene" by Nicole Pohl. The event starts at 6pm at the JHB Main Lecture Theatre, John Henry Brookes Building, Headington Campus and will last about an hour. Alternatively, if you don't want to come to the talk, you can meet us for food and drinks at The White Horse, just down the road, shortly after 7pm. As always, you don't have to be a regular volunteer to come - everyone is welcome. Please let me know in advance if you'd like to come by emailing socials@ocv.org.uk. Hope to see you there!
Contact: Anne

Sunday 19 May 2019Reserve 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, 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: Ray HitchinsDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 26 May 2019Post & Wire Fence RemovalBurgess Field Nature Park, North Oxford
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Burgess Field Nature Park is another Oxford nature reserve that used to be a city landfill site. It's a large site of 8.5 hectares and, like Aston's Eyot and the Trap Grounds, it lies close to the river Thames – to be precise, between the main railway line and Port Meadow. The land is owned by the City Council, and we'll be working with the newly formed Friends of Burgess Field. Last summer we took out several hundred meters of redundant post and wire fence. Today we'll take out several hundred more and, hopefully, finish the job. We'll be pulling staples, rolling barbed wire, and knocking out posts: straightforward, no-holds-barred destruction.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 2 Jun 2019Reserve 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 an enthusiastic volunteer group (The Friends of The Trap Grounds) and includes a range of habitats: woodland, ponds, reed-beds, and areas of meadow and marsh. Today's task consists of two parts, the first of which is a landscaping project. We'll be building a ridge around the back of a newly sited pond and, if the water levels are low enough, we'll be digging a trench down into the bottom of the pond. The second part (nesting birds permitting) involves a bonfire of cut willow brash, felled last winter, that has been roughly stacked nearby on the margins of another pond.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Ray Hitchins

Tuesday 4 Jun 2019Committee MeetingTown Hall
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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 you're very welcome to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Jenny

Friday 7 Jun 2019 -
Monday 10 Jun 2019
Peak District ResidentialPeak District National Park, Derbyshire
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We're heading to the Peak District this weekend to volunteer with wardens from the Peak District National Park Authority and the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers who look after this spectacular part of the country. We'll be staying near Grindleford in the Hope Valley. The work will be decided nearer the time, but in the past we've worked on footpaths on the fells and in the valley, restoring dew ponds, reinforcing river banks, clearing scrub, and peat restoration on the moors. The accommodation will be indoors with beds and showers, and there is a good kitchen and living area with space outside for barbecues if the weather allows. The plan is to leave Friday evening, volunteer on Saturday and Sunday, then on Monday go for a walk or do some sightseeing and return after lunch. Residential trips are great fun and open to all OCV members. If you're not a member it only costs £5 to join for the year, and we'll tell you when we start taking bookings.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ed Polehampton

Sunday 16 Jun 2019Reserve MaintenanceStansfeld Park, Oxford
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Stansfeld Park in Headington Quarry, Oxford 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. We'll be working for the Oxford Trust who have taken on the job of rejuvenating the site partly as a local amenity and partly an educational resource. Today's task has been arranged with Dr. Roger Baker, the Trust's Outdoor Learning and Ecology Manager, to mark the public opening of Stansfeld Park with a family-friendly set of jobs to do, including the reinforcement of the many paths with bark chippings. For more info nearer the day see the OCV weekly task email, and 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/.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 23 Jun 2019Reserve 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. 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. 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.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Thursday 27 Jun 2019Punting & Picnic Social - 6.30pmCherwell Boat House
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As is tradition, we'll be going punting on the Cherwell for this month's social. We'll meet at 6.30pm at the Cherwell Boat House and we'll punt up the river until we reach a suitable spot for a picnic! Email socials@ocv.org.uk if you'd like to come and don't forget to bring some food and drinks to share on the day (and money for the punt hire). As always, you don't have to be a regular volunteer to join - everyone is welcome!
Contact: Anne

Sunday 30 Jun 2019Fen Cutting & RakingLye Valley, Oxford
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Lye Valley is one of three specially designated conservation sites in the 'Wild Oxford' BBOWT project (for more information see http://www.bbowt.org.uk/wildoxford). 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 work on the South Fen. Once again, we'll be joined by the Friends of Lye Valley, and ecologist 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: Andy MoDriver: Ray Hitchins

Tuesday 2 Jul 2019Committee MeetingTown Hall
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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 you're very welcome to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 7 Jul 2019Fen Cutting & RakingLye Valley, Oxford
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A second successive Sunday at Lye Valley. It used to be the case that we could rake both fens in the valley in a single day. It's a mark of the progressive improvement in the quality and extent of this relatively rare habitat that it now takes us two full days. The Friends of Lye Valley have been making constant improvements and the results are impressive – come and see for yourself. This Sunday we'll be on, and possibly in, the North Fen. As with last week, if there's been rain, you'll need wellies.
Leader: Jenny HillDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 14 Jul 2019Fence RepairsBurgess Field Nature Park, North Oxford
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Burgess Field is large green space of 8.5 hectares that sits between the main railway line out of north Oxford and Port Meadow. It's a mix of rough open grassland with stands of mature trees and long hedge-lines. It's also, in places, some ten to twelve feet higher than the neighbouring Port Meadow largely because of the junk left hereabouts when the site was used as a city dump. When the dump was closed it was capped with clay, then topsoil, then planted up, and left to itself. It now needs more attentive management, so today we'll be working to repair the post and wire fence that runs along the western boundary of Burgess Field. This is the fence that makes sure that the livestock that graze the meadow stay on the meadow. The fence-line follows the bottom of the bank that marks the edge of the Field, so if it's been raining it will be wet underfoot. If there's a good turn-out of volunteers there'll also be some selective removal of young scrub on the open grassland areas.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 21 Jul 2019Reserve 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 managed 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. 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 wardens. Contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk for more details.
Leader: Tim EvansDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Friday 26 Jul 2019Potluck + Tools Maintenance Social - 5.30pmCutteslowe Park, Oxford
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Join us at our Cutteslowe Park toolshed from 5.30pm where our amazing tools need a bit of love so we can keep doing good work year round! There will be some sharpening to be done, a few shelves to fix, minor minibus repairs to be carried out... No experience whatsoever necessary, it's just a good opportunity to get together and if you've never been to the toolshed, a way to see what goes on "behind the scenes"! Please bring some snacks and drinks to share if you'd like. I can pick up a few people from the town centre if they need a lift. Please RSVP if you'd like to join: socials@ocv.org.uk
Contact: Anne

Sunday 28 Jul 2019Meadow Cut & RakeNorth Hinksey Nature Reserve
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This small reserve, created on what was once allotments, now borders a business park, and sees a lot of use. Despite its small size it has a good mix of habitats - a stream and pond, a small meadow, a splendid hedge, and a community orchard. The main job today will be to scythe and rake the meadow area to enhance conditions for wildflowers. There's a chance too that we'll be working to improve the pond and stream areas with some excavation work on the banks.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Jo Gay

Sunday 4 Aug 2019Site ReclamationEast Ward Allotments, Oxford
The East Ward Allotments are in the heart of East Oxford off Cricket Road. The plan today is to help The Children's Allotment project reclaim a corner of the Allotment site that used to be a nursery area. For more details see http://thechildrensallotment.org. At the time of writing there are a number of possible tasks: redundant shed walls to take down and dismantle; stands of bramble to dig out; and some landscaping work. For more details nearer the day make sure you've signed up to the OCV email list.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Chris Skepper

Tuesday 6 Aug 2019Committee MeetingTown Hall
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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 you're very welcome to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 11 Aug 2019Meadow Cut & RakeIffley Island, Oxford
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A traditional OCV task for high summer: our regular cut of this SSSI by the Thames, on behalf of the Oxford Preservation Trust. 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 sedge 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. If the sun shines this is one of the high-lights of the OCV calendar. As last year we'll be using our set of Austrian Scythes - look out for more details in the weekly task email.
Leader: Anne CossuttaDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Thursday 15 Aug 2019Wind and Solar Farms Tour - 6.30pmWestmill Community Wind & Solar Farm
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For August's social, we'll head to Westmill Community Wind & Solar Farm for a guided tour to see community energy in action! We'll experience the scale of the turbines and solar park up close, learn about renewable energy, hear the history of the site and find out about the installation and energy generation of the five turbines and over twenty thousand solar panels. We'll have a meal somewhere nearby before heading back to Oxford. We'll meet our tour guide at the farm at 6.30pm if you want to make your own way there. Otherwise car sharing can be organised, we should leave Oxford around 5.40pm.
Contact: Anne

Sunday 18 Aug 2019Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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This National Nature Reserve is an OCV favourite. It's set on the chalk slopes that mark the western boundary of the Chiltern Hills. The sheep-cropped grass that covers the chalk is an ideal wild flower habitat. Our work here in high summer usually involves either the maintenance of the public access routes or the installation of the new all-steel 'clip-it' fencing system (and that's not always quite as easy as you might think it sounds).Whatever the job we'll be working with one of the reserve wardens, which means that if you've ever thought about leading a task then this would be a good one to start with. If you're interested contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk. Full details of the day's work will be posted to the mailing list via the task leader's email as usual.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 25 Aug 2019Grass RakeSt Mary's Fields, Kidlington, Oxfordshire
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As last summer, we'll be working with the determined group of locals 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 if previous years are anything to go by the provision of generous, high quality, home-made cake rations will help.
Leader: Jenny HillDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 1 Sep 2019Meadow Cut & RakeCuxham, South Oxfordshire
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In the summer of 2017 we helped the residents of Cuxham take the first steps to establish a new wild flower meadow in their village. Today we'll return to mow and rake the meadow for the third time. It's a good size, but mainly level ground and with grasses rather than reeds and sedge (unlike Iffley island), so today's task is likely to be a lot closer to the genuine experience of traditional scythe mowing. Everything that we cut needs to be raked off the meadow, so there'll be a lot to do before we can resort to the local pub (The Half Moon, and some excellent complimentary pizza).
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Monday 2 Sep 2019Conservation Optimism Film Festival Social - 8pmOxford Museum of Natural History
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Oxford University Natural History Museum is hosting a small film festival as part of the Conservation Optimism Summit. Starting at 8pm, there will be a panel discussion around the importance of film making to raise awareness of conservation issues, followed by the screening of a diversity of short movies. No need to RSVP but you do have to reserve your spot (free) via Eventbrite (http://bit.ly/ocv-20-09-2019). Hope to see you there!
Contact: Anne

Tuesday 3 Sep 2019Committee MeetingTown Hall
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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 you're very welcome to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 8 Sep 2019Site MaintenanceSimon'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. This will be our first visit of the year. There are two parts to today's task. We'll scythe and rake clear the reed bed, and improvise a fence on the river bank at the bottom of the site using the natural materials on site. There are also a couple of willows that need some light touch pollarding. We'll be working on behalf of the Oxford Preservation Trust. It'll be wet underfoot, so bring wellies!
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 15 Sep 2019Site MaintenanceStansfeld Park, Oxford
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Stansfeld Park in Headington Quarry, Oxford 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. We'll be working for the Oxford Trust who have rejuvenated the site partly as a local amenity and partly an educational resource. At this time of year it's likely that we'll be mowing the grassland and meadow areas, working on the path handrails, and doing some scrub bashing. For more Stansfeld Park see the Oxford Trust website: http://theoxfordtrust.co.uk/stansfeld-education-centre/.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 22 Sep 2019Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our late Summer visit 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. Whatever the task, we'll be working with one of the highly-knowledgeable wardens from Natural England. Exact details of the work involved for today's visit will be announced nearer the time via the OCV email list - so make sure you're signed up!
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 29 Sep 2019Hedge-LayingRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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Our last hedge-laying task at Rectory Farm Fields back in January took us past the halfway point. The condition of the top-growth heavy hedgeline makes for slow progress but with a good day today we're hoping to finish the project this winter. We'll look to lay, stake and bind another 10-15 meter section of hedge and there'll be a bonfire. We'll be doing more hedge-laying later in the winter season, so this is a good chance to get your eye (and arm) in early on. If you've never done this before come along and give it a go, it's one of the most enjoyable and satisfying things we do.
Leader: Tim EvansDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 6 Oct 2019Ditch DredgingAston's Eyot, Oxford
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This large 30 acre site just downstream from Christ Church Meadow is an ‘island’ bordered by the Thames, Cherwell New Cut and Shire Lake Ditch. The land is owned by Christ Church College and is managed by an enthusiastic friends group with some help from the Oxford City Council. One aim of the long-term management plan for the site is to improve the condition of the Shire Lake Ditch – the watercourse that runs, or rather should run, round the eastern boundary of the site from the Cherwell to the Thames. This time last year we dredged downstream from the bridge at the main entrance. Today we’ll be working just upstream from the confluence with the Thames. We’ll be digging out thick mats of reed, cutting back overhanging vegetation, and dredging silt. It’ll be mucky, smelly, and wet, so bring wellingtons. If the water levels turn out to be too high we’ll change the work programme, so watch out for the weekly task email on the OCV mailing list.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Chris Skepper

Wednesday 9 Oct 2019Nature Walk Social - 5.30pmPort Meadow, Oxford
October's Social is a nature walk in Port Meadow led by nature expert and ornithologist, Nick Boyd. Meeting point is the Walton road car park around 5.30pm. During the walk we will explore the meadow for signs of interesting wildlife and search the sky for brilliant birds. Binoculars (to be shared amongst the group) will be provided, however if you have your own pair, please do bring them along! We'll definitely head to a nearby pub for some refreshments afterward. As always, you don't have to be a regular volunteer to join - everyone is welcome. Hope to see you there!
Contact: Anne

Sunday 13 Oct 2019Fen Cutting & Raking I - South FenLye Valley, Oxford
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Today is the first of two days work in Lye Valley, Headington. The early autumn cut of the both fens in the valley, the north fen and the south fen, is the major cut of the year. The balance in favour of the wild flowers on site is now so well established that clear cutting by machine might not be the best option. In which case we’ll be scything the fen ourselves and then raking it clear. And there’s usually work to do to keep the scrub on the boundaries in check. Ecologist and Lye Valley expert Judy Webb will be with us. See a selection of her photographs taken on site in the photo gallery. At the time of writing we’ll be working on the south fen today (that’s the fen by the golf course with no public access) but check the weekly email for confirmation. Make sure you’re on the OCV mailing list! Wellies recommended.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 20 Oct 2019Fen Cutting & Raking II - North FenLye Valley, Oxford
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Day two in Lye Valley. Today we’ll be working on the larger north fen with public access from the Slade. As well as the scything and raking it’s likely that we’ll be working to control the flow of the central water course that runs through the valley by using the natural materials to hand. OCV have been involved with the Lye Valley Nature Reserve for many years, and we’re now involved as part of the BBOWT Wild Oxford Project (see bbowt.org.uk for details). Even though it's a small acreage, it's an important, long-standing, and relatively rare, urban habitat. As last week, you’ll need wellies even if there’s been no rain.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 27 Oct 2019Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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The beech woodlands of the Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve always look magnificent from late 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’s wardens, and, again as usual, the details will be announced in the weekly OCV email. We’re always looking for volunteers who might lead tasks, indeed without leaders we couldn’t keep going. If you’re interested contact Phil Hunter via tasks@ocv.org.uk . At Aston Rowant we always work under the guidance of one of the Reserve wardens, so today would be a great opportunity to try it out. Note that British Summer Time ended last night!
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 3 Nov 2019Devil's Bit Scabious PlantingBeckley Park, Otmoor
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The aim today, as last year, is to plant several hundred Devil’s-bit Scabious plants, specially grown from seed, in order to establish a specific habitat for the Marsh Fritillary butterfly. We’ll be working to a plan drawn up by Butterfly Conservation and Natural England in collaboration with the private landowner. The main food plant of the March Fritillary caterpillar is – Devil’s-bit Scabious. The MOD rifle range on Otmoor is known to be rich in Scabious, so we’ll be working in a field on the Beckley Park estate just to the east of the range. The required kind of habitat consists of several discrete areas of scabious within a specific locality and today’s work will add another component part to the overall pattern of flora in the local area.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Saturday 9 Nov 2019 -
Sunday 10 Nov 2019
Coppicing Training WeekendWestonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
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In these training sessions, we'll be learning about coppicing: a traditional, sustainable way to manage woodland for the production of timber which is also excellent for maintaining biodiversity in woodland. Brian Williamson is a former OCVer, professional coppicer and hurdle maker, and winner of a Royal Forestry Society 'Excellence in Forestry' Award. He'll be showing us his current project at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire. We'll learn about the principles of coppicing, how to identify commonly coppiced trees, safe use and maintenance of bill hooks, good tree felling techniques covering some tricky scenarios. It will also be a chance to have a look around Westonbirt's incredible collection of trees from around the world. We hope to arrange camping nearby for those that want to stay both days. But if a night's Winter camping is not your thing, it should still be possible to come for just either or both days. More information about how to book coming up for OCV members nearer the time, but this is a warning to save the date.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Thursday 14 Nov 2019Nature Talk Social - 6.30pmOxford Brookes Headington Campus
For November's social, we're heading along for a talk: "Journeys of discovery: ecology and exploration" by Julian Bayliss, Oxford Brookes alumnus who discovered the largest rainforest in Southern Africa! His lecture will focus on the role of modern scientific exploration in conservation in Africa, and the technological tools at our disposal which aid in this process that were not available to explorers of old. The event is free but you do need to reserve your spot via Brookes (https://bit.ly/2ktL29N). If people fancy it, we might head to the pub afterward. Hope to see you there!
Contact: Anne

Sunday 17 Nov 2019Scrub Management & Tree PlantingJubilee 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. The main job today involves cutting back a large area of overgrown scrub that runs along the ridge on the south of the site by the main footpath that’s continuous with Top Lane. There’s likely to be a bonfire, and, at the time of writing, some tree-planting to do as well.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 24 Nov 2019Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Another of our regular monthly visits to Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve, managed by Natural England and situated on the western edge of the Chilterns with extensive views across the Oxfordshire plain. The Reserve supports juniper, an extensive variety of wild flowers native to unimproved chalk grassland, together with sheep, woodland, and an abundance of red kites. Exactly what we do today, and where, will be announced in the weekly email so make sure you're on the general email list for the details. We’re always looking for volunteers who might lead tasks, indeed without leaders we couldn’t keep going, and we’re short of volunteers prepared to lead at the moment. So if you’re interested contact Phil Hunter via tasks@ocv.org.uk. Any of our current leaders will be happy to help you get started by doubling up on a task to show you the ropes.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 1 Dec 2019Woodland ManagementMatthew Arnold Field, Oxford
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Matthew Arnold Field in Boars Hill is a mixed woodland and grassland site, named after the poet, cultural critic and influential schools' inspector Matthew Arnold. Today we’ll be working for the Oxford Preservation Trust on a plan to open up the woods to more light, and to re-establish the wetland habitat. Note that we’ll be working in and near the woodland ponds, so bring wellingtons!
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 8 Dec 2019Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our final visit of the year to a favourite site on the cusp of the Chilterns managed by Natural England. It’s more likely than not that we’ll be working either in the woods or on the grassland slopes. Exact details of the day’s work will be posted in the weekly email, so make sure you’re on the OCV mailing list! Once again, we’re always looking for volunteers who might lead tasks, so if you’re interested contact Phil Hunter via tasks@ocv.org.uk . An Aston Rowant task is a great way to start. You’ll be under the guidance of one of the reserve’s wardens – Mick, Steph, or Tim. Any of our current leaders will be happy to help you get started by doubling up on the task to show you the ropes.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 15 Dec 2019Hazel CoppicingLangdon Wood, Aston Upthorpe
A relatively new site for OCV just to the east of Grim's Ditch on the approaches to the Aston Upthorpe Downs south of Blewbury. The wood is a designated SSSI and is mostly mature hazel on the west facing slope of Langdon Hill. The landowner has a grant from Natural England to manage the site and we'll coppice a discrete area as part of an ongoing management plan. If you came on the Westonbirt coppicing course then you'll be more than welcome today. An important part of toady’s task will be to harvest stakes and binders for hedge-laying projects in the new year.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 22 Dec 2019Scrub BashingCrecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire
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Crecy Hill Local Nature Reserve is a County Wildlife Site and Local Nature Reserve in Tackley, ten miles north of Oxford. The reserve is sited on the slope of a railway embankment with views across the open, rolling countryside opposite. We’ll spend the day cutting back and burning extensive scrub to open up the paths and restore access to the site for both local people and the cattle that will be put to graze over the winter.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 29 Dec 2019Hedge-LayingRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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The final task of 2109. The plan today is to crack on with the hedge-laying at Rectory Farm fields. We were last here at the end of September and we’ll look to lay, stake, and bind some more sections of hedge. There will be significant amounts of top-growth to take out so it’s likely that there’ll also be a bonfire. A good day’s work today should bring the end of this particular hedge-laying project in sight.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive