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: Phil HunterDriver: Dan Moden

Tuesday 1 Sep 2020Committee meetingTown Hall
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The committee meets once a month to make sure that the group operates smoothly. Normally meetings are held in the town hall but for the time being these have been moved online. You don't need to be a committee member to join us, please email secretary@ocv.org.uk for details of how to join the call.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 6 Sep 2020Pond Work and Site MaintenanceMilham Ford Nature Park
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The stream and ponds at the Milham Ford Nature Park, Headington were created in 2008-2009 in an area that had previously been 8 tarmaced tennis courts for use of the now defunct 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 with the Reserve's Friends group, under the direction of freelance ecologist Judy Webb to dredge invasive plant growth and re-establish areas of open water necessary for the local dragonfly population. If you'd rather not wade in, we'll also be digging out rush tussocks on the banks and margins of the pond. There's likely to be further work cutting back scrub in various parts of the site.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 13 Sep 2020Meadow Cut and RakeCuxham, South Oxfordshire
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We first mowed the meadow in Cuxham back in the summer of 2017. Today we'll return to mow and rake the meadow for the fourth time, and there are encouraging reports that the site is improving significantly as a wild flower habitat. Cuxham is a shade over 14 miles from Oxford, and given that it's likely that we won't be using the OCV bus to transport volunteers, if you can make it, you'll be very welcome indeed! We've told the organiser from the Parish Council that we'll do what we can on the day, and she's happy with that even if we only manage to work on selected areas. Last year's work was significantly easier than previous years, and as this will be the final mowing task of the year we thought we'd leave it in the schedule.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 20 Sep 2020Site MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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We're hoping that today will see the first OCV task at Aston Rowant since the Spring lockdown began. Aston Rowant is our local 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; and note that there's still a chance that we'll have to reschedule this task, so keep and eye on the website!
Leader: Jenny HillDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 27 Sep 2020Willow PollardingAston's Eyot, Oxford
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This large 30 acre site is an 'island' 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. The plan for today was to dredge a section of the Shire Lake Ditch, as in previous years, but the difficulties involved in ensuring that we could maintain the two meter social distancing rule mean that we've postponed this work indefinitely. Instead, we'll continue with work to pollard the willows on site that we began earlier in the summer. As always, keep an eye on the website and make sure that you're signed up to the weekly email list for the dedicated email that will tell you everything you need to know about each forthcoming task.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 4 Oct 2020Fen Cutting and RakingLouie Memorial Fields, North Hinksey, Oxford
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The fen alongside the Louie Memorial Fields has similar geology to the fens nearby at North Hinksey and Raleigh Park. All three are fed by natural springs and all three have great potential as relatively rare wildflower and wildlife habitats. Today we'll be working for the local parish council to carry out as much as we can of the autumnal cut of the fen itself. The undergrowth is, in many places, more like overgrowth with a head high, more or less dense mixture of vegeatation that needs to be cut and removed. So make sure you can cover up your arms and legs, and wellies might be uselful. We'll be using slashers, grass hooks, and scythes to make a start on work which is already overdue. If you come along to today's task you'll get some idea of what Lye Valley used to look like before the remedial conservation work began there. Please be aware that we may have to limit the number of volunteers consistent with our Covid-safe policies, so please reply in advance to the weekly task email if you intend to come along.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tom Bulford

Tuesday 6 Oct 2020Committee meetingTown Hall
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The committee meets once a month to make sure that the group operates smoothly. Normally meetings are held in the town hall but for the time being these have been moved online. You don't need to be a committee member to join us, please email secretary@ocv.org.uk for details of how to join the call.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 11 Oct 2020Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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The beech woodland of the Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve always looks magnificent from October to the onset of winter. At the time of writing, as part of our anti-Covid measures, we're not yet using the OCV minibus to transport volunteers so, as in September, you may have to make your own way to the site. The dedicated task email will give precise instructions as to where we'll be working. This month's visit will most likely see us 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 -- so make sure you're on the list!
Leader: Dan ModenDriver: Tom Bulford

Sunday 18 Oct 2020Fen Raking I (South Fen)Lye 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, usually done by machine. The raking is done by hand, and that's where we come in. The aim is to keep the fertility of the soil low by removing as much of the cut material as possible. Any number of volunteers stomping up and down the fen at this time of year also mimick some of the desired effects of livestock grazing. The balance in favour of the wild flowers on this relatively rare habitat is now well established, but will need regular maintenance to keep it that way. There's usually work to do to keep the scrub on the boundaries of the fen in check, and, if there are enough of us, we'll pollard a couple of willows on the eastern edge of the fen. Ecologist and Lye Valley expert Judy Webb will be with us. (See a selection of her photographs taken on site in the photo gallery.) We'll be working on the south fen today (that's the fen with no public access by the golf course) but check the weekly email for confirmation. Make sure you're on the OCV mailing list! Wellies recommended even if there's been no rain.
Leader: Tom HeathDriver: Phil Hunter

Wednesday 21 Oct 2020Nature Walk Social - 5pm Iffley Meadows
October's Social is a nature walk in Iffley Meadows led by nature expert and ornithologist, Nick Boyd. During the walk we will explore the meadow for signs of interesting wildlife and search the sky for brilliant birds. If you have binoculars please bring them along. As always, you don't have to be a regular volunteer to join - everyone is welcome. Since the walk is limited to a group of 6 people, please email me if you'd like to join: socials@ocv.org.uk
Contact: Anne

Sunday 25 Oct 2020Fen Raking II (North Fen)Lye 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 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. By the way, British Summer time ended last night!
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tom Bulford

Sunday 1 Nov 2020Scrub ClearanceCrecy 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. A couple of visits over the summer saw us beginning to get the upper hand over the dense scrub on site. We also saw the fantastic potential the site has as a wild flower haven, so the plan is to get back there this winter to establish a stable, manageable balance between the scrub and the grassland. As with all our out of town tasks at the moment, and in line with out Covid-safe policies, we're not using the minibus to transport volunteers, so you'll have to make your own way there. Watch out for the weekly task email which will give all the details. In the meantime you can check out the location maps on the reserve page on our website. Note that there is ample parking on site.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Volunteer to drive

Tuesday 3 Nov 2020Committee meetingTown Hall
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The committee meets once a month to make sure that the group operates smoothly. Normally meetings are held in the town hall but for the time being these have been moved online. You don't need to be a committee member to join us, please email secretary@ocv.org.uk for details of how to join the call.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 8 Nov 2020Woodland 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, who own the site, to manage the woods in line with a long-term plan to open up the ground floor to more light, cut back the thicker areas of scrub, keep the paths open, and do some ad hoc DIY plumbing using the materials at hand to enhance the wetland habitat. Some of us may be working near, even in, the woodland ponds, in which case wellingtons will be useful. Wherever you find yourself working there should be plenty of room to maintain our two-meter social distancing requirement.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Volunteer to drive

Saturday 14 Nov 2020Fen and Pond WorkLouie Memorial Fields, North Hinksey, Oxford
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Here's another of our occasional Saturday tasks. Recently, for the first time anyone can remember, and primarily because of our Covid-safe policies, we've had to turn volunteers away from a couple of tasks -- which is galling! So the idea is to programme more occasional saturday tasks in the hope that our volunteer numbers will be strong enough to support two tasks across one weekend. There's no lack of work that needs to be done, so we'll see how things go. The fen alongside the Louie Memorial Fields has similar geology to the fens nearby at North Hinksey and Raleigh Park. All three are fed by natural springs and all three have great potential as relatively rare wildflower and wildlife habitats. A month or so ago we cut the central fen area. Today we'll do some follow up work on the scrub at the top of the fen and on the encroaching willows. If left to themselves the willows will eventually suck the fen dry and the habitat will be lost. So we'll pollard one of the large trees close to the middle of the fen, remove self-seeded saplings, and cut back some of the fallen willow at the bottom of the fen. If there are enough of us on the day, we'll also have a team dredging reeds and rushes from the small pond at the bottom of the site. It's likely to be wet, even if you're not working in the pond, so bring wellingtons.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 15 Nov 2020Reserve MaintenanceJubilee Fields and Long Meadow, Wootton, West Oxfordshire
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We're out of town today, in West Oxfordshire, at one of our favourite sites about an hour's cyling time from central Oxford. The 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 rural site that lies between the rivers Glyme and Dorn. This time last year we cut back a wide swath of scrub along the ridge on the south side of the site that borders the main footpath continuous with Top Lane. The plan for today is to extend the work further onto the more open slopes to the southeast. There's likely to be a bonfire. This is a big site, so make sure you're on the OCV mailing list for full details in the weekly task email of where exactly we'll be working.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 22 Nov 2020Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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The beech woodland of the Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve always looks 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 dogwood, hawthorn, and bramble to benefit the grasses, flowers, and junipers special to the chalk geology. As usual, we’ll be working with Steph, one of the Nautral England 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. So if you’re interested please contact Phil Hunter via tasks@ocv.org.uk. Again, at the time of writing, given our Covid-safe policies, it’s probable that we won’t be using the OCV minibus to transport volunteers. So, if you can, please make your own way to the site. Look out for detailed directions in the weekly task email. We’re back in Oxford next Saturday.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Saturday 28 Nov 2020Tree-PlantingTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Today sees another of our occasional Saturday tasks at one of Oxford's best urban wildlife sites. The Trap Grounds consists of a mosaic of diverse habitats. Earlier in the year we helped prepare for significant improvements to the main water course that feeds the reed bed and ponds. Today we'll be working to ensure the long-term prospects of the tree population by planting a variety of saplings along the site's western edge.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 29 Nov 2020Scrub ClearanceCrecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire
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Our second visit of the month to Crecy Hill. Once again we'll be opening up discrete areas in the dense combo of srcub - mainly hawthorn, rose, and bramble. The idea is to create bays in the dense cover that runs along the top and bottom of the site, and to keep the paths clear and accessible not only for walkers, but for the cattle that will graze the site over the winter and, hopefully, nibble down the regrowth that will sprout in the spring. We're back on home ground next week.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Tuesday 1 Dec 2020Committee meetingTown Hall
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The committee meets once a month to make sure that the group operates smoothly. Normally meetings are held in the town hall but for the time being these have been moved online. You don't need to be a committee member to join us, please email secretary@ocv.org.uk for details of how to join the call.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 6 Dec 2020Site Maintenance &Tree-PlantingStansfeld 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, woodland, 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, some tree-planting under the guidance of Roger Baker, the centre's Outdoor Learning and Ecology Manager. Search online for more on Stansfeld Park under the management of The Oxford Trust.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 13 Dec 2020Scrub ControlBurgess 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 large - 8.5 hectares of more or less open ground, right next-door to Port Meadow. The land is owned by the City Council, but the hands-on management is kept up by a local Friends group with occasional help from OCV. Given its location the site has huge conservation and recreational potential, and today we'll be working up at the northern end of the site to check the advance of invasive scrub. We hope to have a couple of tree-poppers on today's task (and no, a tree-popper is neither an OCV volunteer, nor an inhalant). Details, as usual, in the weekly OVC task email.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 20 Dec 2020Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our final task of the year brings us back to Aston Rowant, one of our favourite sites perched on the cusp of the Chilterns. It's more likely than not that we'll be working on the grassland slopes, but watch out for full details of what we'll be doing, and where we'll be doing it, in the weekly task email. We usually manage a seasonal lunchtime treat on occasions like this. Previous bonfire-baked delights that come to mind include potatoes, parsnips, chestnuts, and, less appetisingly perhaps, marsh-mallows. A lot depends on who volunteers to lead, and whether he or she can work out a way of doing things compatible with our Covid-safe prohibition on sharing food. So no pressure there!
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 27 Dec 2020Christmas Break
No task today - Yo ho ho! Happy Christmas to everyone who's turned out for OCV this year. See you again soon.
Contact: unknown