Task Programme

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Sunday 5 Jan 2020Willow PollardingAston's Eyot, Oxford
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Aston’s Eyot is a large 30 acre site, literally speaking an island (hence ‘Eyot’). It's bordered by the Thames, Cherwell New Cut and the Shire Lake Ditch, and is situated 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 willows in two locations on the bank of the Shire Lake Ditch: one at the point where the Ditch meets the Thames, and the other at the entrance to the Eyot from the Kidney’s Reserve a few hundred meters further up the Ditch.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Dan Moden

Tuesday 7 Jan 2020Committee 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 you're very welcome to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 12 Jan 2020Site 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 educational resource, partly as a hub for science and tech commercial start-ups. It’s a state of the art development and well worth coming to have a look. Today’s task will involve, among other things, work to manage the woodland and scrub. For more info nearer the day see the OCV weekly task email, and for more on Stansfeld Park under the management of The Oxford Trust see their website: http://theoxfordtrust.co.uk/stansfeld-education-centre/.
Leader: Jenny HillDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 19 Jan 2020Reserve 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 can't keep going, and we're significantly short of volunteers prepared to lead and drive at the moment. If we can't find more leaders and drivers over the next couple of months it's likely that we'll have to start cancelling tasks, which would be a great shame given that we have more requests for work than we have Sundays in the year. So if you can help out have a chat with a task leader or driver, or 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: Helen BurtonDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 26 Jan 2020Reserve 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. For more info see the Friends’ website http://trap-grounds.org.uk. We’ll be helping out with some winter maintenance work, so make sure you’re on the OCV mailing list for the leader’s task email which will give all the details.
Leader: Anne CossuttaDriver: Dan Moden

Wednesday 29 Jan 2020Music Night Social - 8.30pm The Furry Mic at The Mad Hatter
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For the first Social of 2020, 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! 10% of the bar 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 2 Feb 2020CoppicingPissen Wood, Oxfordshire
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We were last here in this small private woodland in the Chilterns in the winter of 2018 to coppice hazel and install wire cages around the stools to protect the re-growth from being grazed by deer. Today we’ll return to check on progress and do some more coppicing. If you came on our residential coppicing course at Westonbirt last November you'll be more than welcome today.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Tuesday 4 Feb 2020Special General MeetingTown Hall
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In place of our regular committee meeting, we're having a Special General Meeting to discuss a fairly technical change to our constitution. Details have been sent to members by email. Everyone is welcome to come along and members will be able to speak and vote if they want. Afterwards we'll probably go for a sociable pint at the Royal Blenheim, so feel free to drop in afterwards, particularly if you're interested in getting more involved with OCV.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 9 Feb 2020Scrub ManagementCrecy 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. The scrub is thick and thorny hereabouts and as the site will have been grazed by cattle over the winter it may be very muddy underfoot. If it’s been wet, wellies could be useful.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 16 Feb 2020TASK CANCELLED!Aston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Given the adverse weather conditions expected on Sunday the advertised task at Aston Rowant has been cancelled. Note that we'll be back at Aston Rowant on March 29th.
Leader: Jenny HillDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Thursday 20 Feb 2020Vietnamese Food Social - 7pmPho Oxford
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For our February social, we'll be transported to Vietnam! In reality, we'll be at Pho, a restaurant on the roof of the Westgate shopping centre, where we can enjoy delicious phở, the country’s national dish. Come and join us from 7pm, there will be plenty of 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 23 Feb 2020Scrub ClearanceBurgess Field Nature Park, North Oxford
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Our first visit of the year to Burgess Field. The plan for today is to work at the northern end of this big site which sits side by side with Port Meadow. The aim is to keep the wide open spaces wide and open by taking out some of the invasive scrub. It won’t be a clear-cut exercise however, we’ll need to be selective as some of the ‘islands’ of dense scrub make for good habitat. There’ll be a bonfire.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 1 Mar 2020Hedge-Laying and Willow PollardingNorth 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 reedbed, stands of willow and hazel, a meadow, and a community orchard. On Sunday February 8th 2015 we laid the hedge on this reserve which separates the meadow from the orchard. Now, five years to the day, we’ll be back to do some secondary laying. The hedge is in fine shape, and it’ll be interesting to see how many volunteers that worked on the hedge back in 2015 make it back for today’s task. Volunteers come and go, but hedges, if left to themselves, stay put! There’ll also be some work to do on the willows that surround the pond.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Dan Moden

Tuesday 3 Mar 2020Special General Meeting 8pmTown Hall
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Another Special General Meeting in Oxford Town Hall at 8pm. The committee are proposing a resolution that will merge the charity into new Charitable Incorporated Organisation, a different type of registered charity. Members can attend and vote on the resolution. We'll be in the Jury Room at the town hall. 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

Wednesday 4 Mar 2020Rewilding Debate Social - 6.30pmFlora Anderson Hall
For this month's social, we'll go listen to a debate organised by Somerville College and Plantlife on the topical subject of rewilding – "Does rewilding work for plants?". Chaired by Clive Aslet, famed for his editorship of Country Life and an award-winning writer and journalist, with a distinguished panel including Professor Dieter Helm CBE, Professor Alistair Driver, the Director of Rewilding Britain, Clare Pillman, the CEO of Natural Resources Wales and Dr Trevor Dines, Botanical Specialist at Plantlife, this promises to be a lively and thought-provoking evening Tickets can be booked online (www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/90300381873). We might head to the pub afterwards if people fancy it. Hope to see you there! socials@ocv.org.uk
Contact: Anne

Sunday 8 Mar 2020Scrub ManagementGrays Lane Bank, Ibstone, Buckinghamshire
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Another scrub bashing task (by the time we get to the end of March you’ll be a dab hand at this sort of thing) but today’s task is in a special location – a privately owned chalk grassland bank in a secluded part of the Chilterns, designated as an SSSI. We’ve worked here in the past but not for a while. Recently, the landowner has made significant improvements and developed a long-term management plan that includes cattle grazing. We’ve been asked to help out with the labour-intensive work of removing the extensive regrowth of hawthorn and dogwood when still in its initial stages.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 15 Mar 2020Scrub Management & Tree-PlantingBurgess Field Nature Park, North Oxford
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We’re back at Burgess Field today to work on the eastern edge of the site. We’ll clear one or two discrete areas of scrub and then replant saplings to create pockets of new woodland. The long-term plan is to develop a series of these pockets along the length of the boundary with the railway to rejuvenate the barrier of woodland and to compensate for the expected future loss of the ash trees hereabouts.
Leader: Jenny HillDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 22 Mar 2020Reserve Maintenance
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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, a classical example of a traditional water meadow environment, lying between the rivers Glyme and Dorn. The task today will be to continue from where we left off last November with more scrub bashing work further along the ridge on the south of the site by the main footpath that’s continuous with Top Lane. **UPDATE: SADLY DUE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED.**
 

Sunday 29 Mar 2020Reserve Management
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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 either lead tasks, or drive our minibus. Indeed without leaders and drivers we couldn’t keep going, and we’re significantly short of volunteers prepared to lead and drive at the moment. So if you can help 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. **UPDATE: SADLY DUE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED.**
 

Sunday 5 Apr 2020Site Maintenance
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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, between the main railway line and Port Meadow. The land is owned by the City Council, and we'll be working with a newly formed local group that want to take a hand in its upkeep. It's likely that we'll continue the work we began last month to create newly planted pockets of woodland along the long eastern border of the site by the railway. Full details will be posted by the task leader in the weekly task email, so make sure you're on the OCV mailing list! **UPDATE: SADLY DUE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED.**
 

Tuesday 7 Apr 2020Committee 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 you're very welcome to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm. . **UPDATE: DUE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK THIS MEETING IS NOW ONLINE ONLY, WITH NO PUB VISIT.**
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 12 Apr 2020Easter Sunday
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. We're always looking for volunteers prepared to step up and take a hand in leading tasks or driving the minibus. Contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk for more details
 

Friday 17 Apr 2020Virtual Social - Online Quiz
Let's find out who knows the most about OCV sites! This fun online quiz will start at 8pm on www.myquiz.org, to join enter the code 149035. If you'd like to socialize while taking part then connect to our OCV Zoom meeting room using this link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/79711022447. Hope to see you (virtually) there!
Contact: Anne

Sunday 19 Apr 2020Reserve Maintenance
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Our April visit to our local National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns. It's a site that includes chalk grassland slopes 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 Steph Wilson, one of the Natural England wardens who manage the site. Contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk for more details. At this time of year we might be working on the grass slopesto improve conditions for the flora and, by extension, the insect life special to the site, or maintaining good public access along the various paths. The details of what we'll be doing and where will be in the weekly email as usual. **UPDATE: SADLY DUE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED.**
 

Friday 24 Apr 2020 -
Tuesday 28 Apr 2020
Re-wilding Residential Trip
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An exciting plan for a long weekend in Scotland. In a possible first for OCV, we are going to actually be planting scrub! We'll be working high up on the mountains, above the tree line where there is an ambitious project underway to restore forest wilderness to an entire valley. We last volunteered in this area in 2013, planting small trees. This time it will be montane scrub. The plan is to travel up on the Friday, and we'll volunteer with a group from the Borders Forest Trust on Saturday and Sunday. It's a bit of hike up, so some of their group are going to be camping overnight on Saturday. The camping is entirely optional as we'll be staying for the rest of the time in a village hall. Then we'll have Monday to see the area, and return on Tuesday. The work will be strenuous but we usually eat well and have a fun time on these trips. Save the date! It will be a memorable weekend. When booking opens we'll announce it first to members, so make sure your membership is up-to-date. **UPDATE: SADLY DUE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED.**
 

Sunday 3 May 2020Pond 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. This is one of the most heavily used urban green spaces in Oxford. 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 necessary not least for the local dragonfly population. We'll also be digging out hard rush tussocks on the banks and margins of the pond if you'd rather not wade in. **UPDATE: SADLY DUE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED.**
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Tuesday 5 May 2020Committee meeting 8pmhome
The committee meets once a month, normally in the Oxford Town Hall, to make sure that the group operates smoothly. This month due to closure of the Town Hall for events we'll meet online instead. You're welcome to join us, please email secretary@ocv.org.uk for details of how to join the call.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 10 May 2020Site Maintenance & Bespoke CarpentryStansfeld 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. Today's task has been arranged with Dr. Roger Baker, the Trust's Outdoor Learning and Ecology Manager, with a family friendly set of jobs to do, including the reinforcement of the many paths with bark chippings. The plan for today also includes the bespoke construction of a double beehive frame. 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/. **UPDATE: SADLY DUE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED.**
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Saturday 16 May 2020Listening to nature workshop - 4pm
Want to get better acquainted with the chatterboxes hiding in your trees and bushes? Then join Nick Boyd's "Listening to nature" virtual workshop at 4pm on Zoom as part of the FREE online Tandem in Your Garden Festival. He will walk us through how to read different environments and identify the sounds of our feathered friends within them. Nick once took us on a bird walk during one of our OCV socials, he's truly an expert with a real passion for wildlife! The Zoom link will be announced at 10am on www.tandeminyourgarden.co.uk
Contact: Anne

Sunday 17 May 2020Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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We're back at 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 plants natural to the chalk grassland and the insect populations that depend on them. We could be helping out with fence and gate repairs, or tackling other maintenance jobs required on 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. **UPDATE: SADLY DUE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED.**
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 24 May 2020Revetment Construction & 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. The main task for today is to extend the two path revetments that we've installed in previous years along the northern edge of the site with a third section of revetment. The path hereabouts also needs to be widened and levelled, so there'll be some landscaping to do as well. If there are enough of us we'll also help out with the recent management plan in the woods which is designed to re-establish the peat wetland. In the past this has meant working with Rod D'Ayala to improvise dams from natural materials on hand, so bring wellingtons! **UPDATE: SADLY DUE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED.**
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 31 May 2020Reserve MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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We hope to get back to work today at the Trap Grounds with the first ever OCV task under social distancing and special hygiene measures! Given that we can't use the minibus to transport volunteers, most of the forthcoming tasks have been arranged in and around Oxford so that volunteers can make their own way to the sites, and can follow the social distancing and hygiene requirements that we've drawn up. It may be necessary to cancel these tasks at short notice, so keep an eye on the website, and make sure you're signed up to the OCV mailing list to receive the weekly task email that will give explicit instructions about each Sunday task in the week immediately preceding. The Trap Grounds is a long standing OCV favourite, it's 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 great example of a state of the art urban wildlife site with an ideal combination of complementary micro-habitats. We'll be constructing a low willow-wand fence along the stream banks; landscaping one of the pond areas; and taking out and dismembering a couple of large obstructive willows.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 2 Jun 2020Committee meeting 8pmhome
The committee meets once a month, normally in the Oxford Town Hall, to make sure that the group operates smoothly. This month due to closure of the Town Hall for events we'll meet online instead. You're welcome to join us, please email secretary@ocv.org.uk for details of how to join the call.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 7 Jun 2020Scrub and Nettle ClearingBurgess Field Nature Park, North Oxford
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We don't usually tackle scrub in the nesting season. But the open grassland areas at the northern end of Burgess Field have a substantial amount of recently self-seeded hawthorn, amongst other things, that we can take out without any risk. There are also plans to cut and then dig out some of the larger nettle beds in preparation for the sowing of wildflower seed in the autumn. As last week, make sure you're signed up to the OCV email list to receive the email that will give you the specific details about today's task.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Thursday 11 Jun 2020 -
Thursday 18 Jun 2020
Environment film festival from your sofahome
On 11 & 18 June, Watlington Climate Action Group are hosting a FREE online mini film festival featuring a specially curated collection of short films about the environment.Starts at 8p. More info here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/film-festival-from-your-sofa-tickets-105664280708
Contact: Anne

Sunday 14 Jun 2020Path ClearingAston's Eyot, Oxford
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We were last here at the very beginning of the year to pollard willows. Today we'll be working to keep the paths open and the site accessible. It's a big site with hundreds of meters of paths and, like last week at Burgess Field, we'll need to be careful about what we cut, but there should be plenty of work, and plenty of space, to keep everyone busy and safe.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 21 Jun 2020Reserve MaintenanceCrecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire
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Note that this task has been rescheduled. Crecy Hill is a small reserve just to the east of the village of Tackley by the main railway line into Oxford. It's owned by the local parish council, and we've been making regular visits to reclaim the unimproved grassland from the invasive scrub - mainly hawthorn, bramble, and rose - that has come to dominate. We'll need to be careful that we don't disturb any nesting activity, but there will be more than enough low regrowth to deal with from recent winter tasks to keep us busy. Note that we won't be using the minibus to transport volunteers, so you'll have to make your on way to the site.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 28 Jun 2020Fen Cutting and 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. We'll also be keen to maintain our social distancing and hygiene measures which are working well, and which remain unchanged (see FAQs for full details).
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tom Bulford

Sunday 5 Jul 2020Fen Cutting and 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 last week, if there's been rain, you'll need wellies.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 12 Jul 2020Reed Cutting and Willow RemovalCutteslowe Meadows
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This is a new site for OCV, and about as close to home as we can get. The meadows lie just to the south east of Cutteslowe Park, between the Cutteslowe Community Woodland, the A40, and the river Cherwell. They lie in the flood plain of the river, so are subject to seasonal flooding, and have a series of discrete ponds, so it's an interesting liminal habitat of mixed wet and dry conditions. The site is owned by Oxford City Council, and they've agreed to a collaborative management plan drawn up by the Freshwater Habitats Trust and the Oxford Botanical Gardens to reintroduce some native dry and wetland flora. The Trust have asked us to take on the preliminary work of cutting and raking the reedbeds, and digging out willow saplings from the margins of the ponds.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tom Bulford

Sunday 19 Jul 2020Meadow Cut and RakeNorth Hinksey Nature Reserve
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Note the change of task! 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 grasses in the Orchard. If there are enough of us, we'll also do a little pollarding work on the willows round the pond. We're still following our social distancing and hygiene measures - full details in the weekly task email as usual, or you can check them out on the FAQs page of the website.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 26 Jul 2020Site 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. Make sure you're on the OCV mailing list to receive details of today's task, and for more on Stansfeld Park see the Oxford Trust website: https://theoxfordtrust.co.uk/stansfeld-education-centre/. As in recent weeks, please note that we'll be following the OCV policies on social distancing and tool/hand hygiene.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 2 Aug 2020Reserve 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. For more info see the Friends’ website https://trap-grounds.org.uk. The main task today will be to complete the low-level, willow-whip wattle fencing along the water courses to prepare for the dredging operation later in the year. The plan is to use the fencing to hold back the dredged silt, reinforce the banks, and thereby create a suitable habitat for water voles. There’s usually something for everyone at the Trap Grounds, so expect other jobs too – details will be in the weekly task email.
Leader: Jenny HillDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 9 Aug 2020Reed-Bed 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, and check out the photos on our website page dedicated to the reserve (click on the 'Iffley Island, Oxford' button, top right!).
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ray Hitchins

Thursday 13 Aug 2020Socially distant social - 6pmSouth Park, Oxford
This month, join us for a socially distant social in South Park, Oxford. Under current government guidelines we can meet in any outdoor space in a group of up to 6 people from different households and we should have plenty of space in the park to socialize while keeping at a safe distance. But to keep track of numbers, please let me know if you're planning on joining. As usual, everyone is welcome but If you're in a high risk group, or you or someone in your household have symptoms of the virus, please stay at home. Hope to see you there! socials@ocv.org.uk
Contact: Anne

Sunday 16 Aug 2020Ragwort Pulling & Scrub ClearanceCrecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire
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Crecy Hill is a small reserve just to the east of the village of Tackley hard by the main railway line into Oxford. It's owned by the local parish council, and we've been making regular visits to reclaim the unimproved grassland from the invasive scrub that has come to dominate. We were last here in June, and managed to start work at the far northern end of the site, clearing dense hawthorn and bramble. Today, we've been asked to pay special attention to the ragwort on the reserve. The seed tends to drift onto the neighbouring pastures and if the plant material gets into the hay it can cause serious illness in horses. So we'll be pulling ragwort, which we haven't done for quite a while, and, if there's enough of us, also knocking back some more scrub. Note that we won't be using the minibus to transport volunteers, so you'll have to make your on way to the site. Directions will be in the weekly task email as usual. We'll be back in Oxford next weekend.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Saturday 22 Aug 2020Meadow Mow & Rake and Scrub ClearanceNorth Hinksey Nature Reserve
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Note that this is one of our occasional Saturday tasks. We've had such good turnouts of volunteers recently (thankyou everyone!) that we thought we might try a two task weekend with work in Oxford both today and tomorrow. So take your pick! A month or so ago we mowed and raked the community orchard here at North Hinksey. Today we return to mow and rake the grass meadow on the other side of the hedge. For the meadow we'll use scythes, but there will also be some more brutal work with the OCV slashers (the name is a pretty good clue to the tool and how to use it) to tackle the thick scrub that runs along the ditch. This is an urban reserve, owned and managed by the local parish council, with an unusually complex mixture of habitats in a relatively small space -- a real gem. We'll still be following our social distancing and hygiene measures, full details will be in the weekly task email as usual, or you can check them out on the FAQs page of the website.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 23 Aug 2020Willow PollardingAston's Eyot, Oxford
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Note that today's task has been changed! We hope to be back at Aston Rowant in September, but today we're much closer to home at Aston's Eyot in East Oxford. We'll be working on the willows that line the Shire Lake Ditch and the Cherwell. Pollarding will keep them healthy and in good condition, and will also allow sunlight to reach the water surfaces which should help with the long term plan to rejuvenate the habitat on this part of the site. If the willows are neglected their larger limbs tend to fracture and collapse, as you'll see today - we'll be hauling out a couple of big willow boughs that have crashed down.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 30 Aug 2020Grass RakingSt Mary's Fields, Kidlington, Oxfordshire
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As in recent summers, rain or shine, we'll be working with the determined group of locals who maintain this popular conservation area. It's owned and managed by the local parish council and lies 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, and given our Covid-19 measures, we'll have to do it without the benefit of the usual supplies of excellent home-made cake.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Dan Moden