Task Programme

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Sunday 3 Jan 2021Woodland ManagementMatthew Arnold Field, Oxford
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A great site to start 2021. Matthew Arnold Field in Boars Hill is a mixed woodland, grassland, and wetland 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, so wellingtons might be useful. Wherever you find yourself working there should be plenty of room to maintain the two-meter social distancing requirement -- our Covid-safe measures are still in force!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Tuesday 5 Jan 2021Committee 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

Saturday 9 Jan 2021Task Cancelled!Trap Grounds, Oxford
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**DUE TO THE RESURGENT COVID-19 VIRUS THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED. THE OCV COMMITTEE IS PLANNING ON MONTHLY REVIEWS OF OUR TASK SCHEDULE. WE AIM TO BE BACK AT WORK AS QUICKLY AS WE CAN, SO KEEP AN EYE ON THE WEBSITE FOR FURTHER UPDATES!** Today is the first of our upcoming occasional Saturday tasks. At the end of last year we found ourselves having to turn volunteers away from tasks to keep within our Covid-safe policies. It's likely that we'll have to keep to the policies well into 2021, so the plan is to schedule some additional Saturday tasks to accommodate the welcome surge in enthusiasm! The Trap Grounds is a small pocket of countryside in the middle of urban north Oxford between the canal and the railway. It's managed by a keen 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: Dan ModenDriver: Tom Bulford

Sunday 10 Jan 2021Task Cancelled!Pissen Wood, Oxfordshire
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**DUE TO THE RESURGENT COVID-19 VIRUS THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED. THE OCV COMMITTEE IS PLANNING ON MONTHLY REVIEWS OF OUR TASK SCHEDULE. WE AIM TO BE BACK AT WORK AS QUICKLY AS WE CAN, SO KEEP AN EYE ON THE WEBSITE FOR FURTHER UPDATES!** We last worked in this small private woodland in the winter of 2020 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, coppice another discrete area of hazel, and reposition some of the protective cages. Coppicing will promote new growth in the hazel stools, and keep the understory of the wood in good condition -- light levels at ground level are important for the woodland flowers, and the bluebells hereabouts are especially fine in the spring. In more normal times we'd also be harvesting hazel stakes and binders for future hedge-laying projects, but they'll have to wait until we can relax our Covid-safe measures.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 17 Jan 2021Task Cancelled!Lye Valley, Oxford
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**DUE TO THE RESURGENT COVID-19 VIRUS THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED.** The condition of the south fen at Lye Valley continues to improve to such an extent that today we'll be working on the perimeters of the fen rather than the fen itself. We'll be cutting back scrub on the borders with the golf-course, and the neighbouring woodland. We'll also look to pollard some of the willows that are beginning to shade out the high side of the fen just below the spring lines. If there's been rain wellies will be useful. For more information on this relatively rare habitat that's also a listed SSSI see http://www.friendsoflyevalley.org.uk.
Leader: Tom HeathDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 24 Jan 2021Task Cancelled!Aston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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**DUE TO THE RESURGENT COVID-19 VIRUS THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED. THE OCV COMMITTEE IS PLANNING ON MONTHLY REVIEWS OF OUR TASK SCHEDULE. WE AIM TO BE BACK AT WORK AS QUICKLY AS WE CAN, SO KEEP AN EYE ON THE WEBSITE FOR FURTHER UPDATES!** 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 tackling the hawthorn, bramble and dogwood that encroach on the chalk grassland slopes. A healthy chalk grassland is a healthy flower habitat, and a diverse and healthy flower population makes for a diverse and healthy insect population, and a diverse and healthy insect population... You get the idea. 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. 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: Chris SkepperDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 31 Jan 2021Task Cancelled!Burgess Field Nature Park, North Oxford
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**DUE TO THE RESURGENT COVID-19 VIRUS THIS EVENT IS NOW CANCELLED. THE OCV COMMITTEE IS PLANNING ON MONTHLY REVIEWS OF OUR TASK SCHEDULE. WE AIM TO BE BACK AT WORK AS QUICKLY AS WE CAN, SO KEEP AN EYE ON THE WEBSITE FOR FURTHER UPDATES!** 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, so plenty of space to spread out and stay safe! 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 full complement of tree-poppers on today's task, so come along and give it a pop. Details, as usual, in the weekly OVC task email.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Chris Skepper

Tuesday 2 Feb 2021Committee 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 7 Feb 2021Scrub ControlCrecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire
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We plan to resume our outdoor volunteer work today at Crecy Hill with even stricter measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. Crecy Hill 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. Repeated visits thoroughout 2020 saw us get the upper hand over the dense mix of hawthorn, rose, and bramble that threatened to overhelm the reserve. The plan now is to return this winter to consolidate the manageable balance between scrub and grassland. As with all our out of town tasks at the moment 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: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 14 Feb 2021Reserve MaintenanceNorth Hinksey Nature Reserve
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will continue for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. There are several things to do today: we'll prune back the vigorous top growth in the central hedge to encourage regrowth from lower down that should widen and thicken the girth of the hedge; we'll lay a very short section of the hedge along the boundary with the WI car park and prune back, or even remove, some of the small trees on the same fence-line in order to give room to others; and we'll lay a bonfire to reduce the amount of cut material that's been piled in the far corner of the site on previous tasks.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 21 Feb 2021Reserve MaintenanceBurgess Field Nature Park, North Oxford
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will continue for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. 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, so plenty of space to spread out and stay safe! 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 doing some work on the hedges and paths. Check out the leader's task email for details!
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 28 Feb 2021Scrub ClearanceSwyncombe Estate, South Oxfordshire
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will continue for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. Swyncombe Estate consists of over 600 acres of high, mature beech woodland and chalk grassland in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding National Beauty. As in recent years we'll be cutting scrub on the exposed spur of Sliding Hill, with 180 degree panoramic views over the Oxford plain. We'll also be using our set of tree-poppers to remove hawthorn saplings complete with their root systems (provided we can haul them up to the site), so expect a mixture of cutting and pulling. As last week, you'll find the details in the email from the task leader that will be sent via the mailing list sometime in the week preceding the task, so make sure you're on the list!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Dan Moden

Tuesday 2 Mar 2021Committee 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 7 Mar 2021Site MaintenanceJubilee Fields and Long Meadow, Wootton, West Oxfordshire
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Jubilee Fields were purchased from the Duke of Marlborough by the Wootton Conservation Trust in 2003 to mark the Queen's Jubilee. It's a lovely site at any time of year, a classical example of a traditional water meadow environment, lying between the rivers Glyme and Dorn. The task today will be to continue with a mixed bag of jobs from where we left off last December. Note that at the time of writing it's unlikely that we'll be using the OCV minibus to transport volunteers, so you'll have to make your own way to the site. Watch out for the task email for all the details.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 14 Mar 2021Scrub ControlCrecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will continue for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. 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've made a good fist of restoring the central areas of grassland and one of the aims of today's work will be to concentrate on the access routes at either end. 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: Tom Bulford

Sunday 21 Mar 2021Reserve MaintenanceSwyncombe Estate, South Oxfordshire
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will continue for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. We were scheduled to be at our local National Nature Reserve at Aston Rowant today, but work there has been postponed until next month. So, instead, we'll make a return visit to the Swyncombe Estate to help out once more with the scrub clearance project that the estate manager has in hand on the grassland habitat on Swyncombe Down - a notable location for native butterflies. This can be a tricky site to find, so watch out for instructions in the leader's task email! We had extraordinarily fine February weather on our last visit, but the site is open to the elements and there can be a sharp wind chill so bring plenty of warm clothing.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 28 Mar 2021Scrub ControlCutteslowe Meadows
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will continue for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task.The meadows lie just to the south east of Cutteslowe Park, between the Cutteslowe Community Woodland, the A40, and the river Cherwell. They form 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 make a start on the scrub on the border with the river and the ring-road before it can get established and begin to further encroach on the meadows. We've timed this task with care to fall between the likely winter flood conditions and the onset of the nesting season.
Leader: Tom HeathDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 4 Apr 2021Toolshed Day of MaintenanceCutteslowe Park, Oxford
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Once in a while we spend some time at the OCV toolshed in the Council's Cutteslowe Parks Depot working on our tools and various bits of kit. So today we'll be doing some maintenance of our own. We'll be cleaning, oiling and sharpening tools, everything from scythe snaths to bill-hooks, and from loppers to slashers - all done by hand. We'll also give the shed (actually a decommissioned freight container) and the van a good spring clean. If there are any OCV volunteers out there who might fancy leading a task or two (and we're always more than happy to welcome new leaders) then today will be a great chance to come along, see where everything is and how things work, and have a chat. Watch out for the weekly task email which will give details of exactly where and when we'll meet. Note that we'll still be enforcing our Covid-19 restrictions (not least the 2 meter rule) in addition to the requirement that everyone wear a face covering while in the depot.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 6 Apr 2021Committee 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 Apr 2021Site MaintenanceStansfeld Park, Oxford
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will still be in place for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. 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. At the time of writing it's likely that we'll be doing some pond work, but Roger usually has a wide range of conservation tasks in hand. For more info nearer the day see the OCV weekly task email, and for more on the exciting prospects for Stansfeld Park under the management of The Oxford Trust see their website: http://theoxfordtrust.co.uk/stansfeld-education-centre/.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tom Bulford

Friday 16 Apr 2021Evening Litter Pick Walk 5.30pm-8pmSouth-East Oxford
A socially-distanced evening litter-pick around the footpaths, cycleways and nature reserves of south-east Oxford. Instead of an evening social, which would not be very practical with the rule of six, we'll instead try to clear up some of the unsightly lockdown debris before it makes it way into streams and rivers and potentially affects wildlife. We'll divide into teams of 2 to 4 people, with each team assigned different routes. It will be mostly paths, parks and nature reserves, largely avoiding main roads. Email chair@ocv.org.uk if you'd like to take part.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 18 Apr 2021Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will still be in place for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task.We pick up our regular monthly schedule of tasks at Aston Rowant today with the first task at our local National Nature Reserve since December. 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 with expert help from 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 slopes to 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.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tom Bulford

Saturday 24 Apr 2021Reserve MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will still be in place for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. Notice that this is one of our occasional Saturday tasks, and that we have a double-header of local tasks this weekend! The Trap Grounds is a small pocket of 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. As usual there will be mixed-bag of things to do. Given the time of year we might well be working in the ponds and reed beds. Another job to take in hand will be to 'pop' (i.e. lever out) a myriad of small self-seeded ash saplings in the wooded areas.
Leader: Tom HeathDriver: Tom Bulford

Sunday 25 Apr 2021Site Maintenance & Pond WorkMilham Ford Nature Park
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will still be in place for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. 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, and we'll be working on behalf of the Oxford City Council. Most of the work will be 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.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 2 May 2021Site MaintenanceJubilee Fields and Long Meadow, Wootton, West Oxfordshire
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will still be in place for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. 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. There's lots of work to do, a real mixed bag: maintaning the post and rail, and post and wire fence-lines; cutting back blackthorn; clearing fallen trees; we also have an owl box to install -- made by OCV's very own Chair -- Chris Skepper. So a mix of all-sorts to do today, and as it's likely we'll be well spread out watch for the task email for all the details.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 9 May 2021Raised Bed ConstructionThe Children's Allotment, East Ward Allotments, Oxford
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The East Ward Allotments are in the heart of East Oxford off Cricket Road. We were last here in the summer of 2019 to help The Children's Allotment project reclaim a derelict corner of the Allotment site. For more details of the project see http://thechildrensallotment.org. At the time of writing, the central job of today's task will be to install some raised beds. For more details nearer the day make sure you've signed up to the OCV email list.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tom Bulford

Tuesday 11 May 2021Annual General MeetingTown Hall
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The Annual General Meeting will be held online at 8pm on Tuesday the 11st May. Everyone is welcome at the AGM, however often you come out on tasks, or if you just want to find out what we've been up to over the last year (you don't need to be a member). We'll have a report about the previous year, and then elect the committee for next year. If anyone is interested in standing for a committee position, please email secretary@ocv.org.uk Details to join the meeting are https://brookes.zoom.us/j/85073035284 Meeting ID: 850 7303 5284
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 16 May 2021Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will still be in place for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. 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.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 23 May 2021Scrub Popping & CuttingCutteslowe Meadows
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Our reinforced measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will still be in place for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. Note the change to the advertised task! As of Monday May 17th. the site at Burnt Mill Meadow is under a foot or so of water, and with more rain forecast. So, instead, we’ll make a return visit to Cutteslowe Meadows to pop and cut more of the invasive hawthorn scrub on site, none of which is substantial enough to support nesting activity. Indeed, that’s a good reason to deal with it sooner rather than later. The meadows at Burnt Mill and Cutteslowe are both owned by Oxford City Council, and both subject to a management plan drawn up by Judy Webb in collaboration with the Freshwater Habitats Trust. So although we’ll be on a different site, we’ll be working for the same clients. Of course, there’s always the chance that, come Sunday, the meadow at Cutteslowe will be flooded too - so watch this space! The task leader will check out the Cutteslowe site towards the end of the week. In any case, although the work area should be relatively dry underfoot, you’ll probably need wellingtons to get to it.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 30 May 2021Revetment Construction & Woodland ManagementMatthew Arnold Field, Oxford
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Our measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will still be in place for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked please don't come to the task. 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. There'll be work to do enhance the wet fen habitat by reinforcing the ad hoc dams, and readjusting the outlet stream from the main pond - bring wellingtons! Otherwise we'll be cutting and raking the fen, knocking back any resurgent willow, and doing some repair work on the boardwalk and revetments. Watch out for the task leader's email for the details.!
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 1 Jun 2021Committee 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

Friday 4 Jun 2021Picnic 6.30pmAngel and Greyhound Meadow
Socials are back on! We're now allowed to organise activities other than work parties, so why not join us for a picnic? There might also be some games like frisbee or rounders, which will not be at all compulsory if you'd rather just sit and drink beer instead! Bring your own food, drinks and things to share if you want to. In the event of a bad weather we'll either cancel or come up with an alternative plan such as a walk. If you'd like to come please email chair@ocv.org.uk to book a place. To comply with Coronavirus regulations numbers will be limited to 30.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 6 Jun 2021Step Construction and Scrub PoppingCrecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire
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Our measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will still be in place for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked plese don't come to the task. 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. Repeated visits have given us the upper hand over the dense mix of hawthorn, rose, and bramble that threatened to overwhelm the reserve. The plan for today is to replace two flights of steps that give access to the reserve from the top of the railway embankment. We'll also be using our set of tree-poppers to take out immature hawthorn from selected areas. We're not often here in the summer months, and if we get some early June sunshine we should be able to see the flowery results of recent work. At the time of writing, and in line with our Covid-safe policies, we're not using the minibus to transport volunteers, so you'll have to make your own way to the site. 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: Tom Bulford

Sunday 13 Jun 2021Site MaintenanceJubilee Fields and Long Meadow, Wootton, West Oxfordshire
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Our measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will still be in place for this task, including a limit on the number of volunteers. To book a place please reply to the leader's task email sent out in the week preceding the task. If you have not received confirmation from the leader that your place has been booked plese don't come to the task. We were last at this lovely water meadow site a month or so ago, and today we'll pick up work from where we left off. There's still an extensive job list to work through, including the further renovation of the main post and rail fence; the clearance of a fallen tree at the far end of the site; new sign posts to erect; and even the installation of some owl boxes if suitable locations can be identified. It's likely we'll be well spread out, so watch for the leader's task email for all the details.
Leader: Sam FishwickDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 20 Jun 2021Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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We're still keeping a check on numbers so please read the task email for details of how to book. We're back at our local national nature reserve in the Chilterns today. It's a site that includes chalk grassland, grazed by flocks of sheep. Early summer means it's likely that we'll be working on public access to the site by improving paths, or repairing or installing post and wire fences. But whatever the work, it should be worth coming along if only to check out the wild flower habitats. Full details will be in the weekly email as usual. We're always looking for new task leaders (OCV depends on some volunteers being willing to lead) and an Aston Rowant task is a great opportunity to try it out under the supervision of one of the Natural England wardens who manage the site. Contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk for more details.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tom Bulford

Sunday 27 Jun 2021Site RestorationThe Children's Allotment, East Ward Allotments, Oxford
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We're still keeping a check on numbers so please read the task email for details of how to book. The East Ward Allotments are in the heart of East Oxford off Cricket Road. We were last here at the beginning of May to clear the site, install seven raised beds, and generally help out with the development of the Children's Allotment project after a year of suspended animation. For more details about the project see http://thechildrensallotment.org. At the time of writing, the central job of today's task will be to do the groundwork on the side of the site opposite to the raised beds -- there's likely to be a small mountain of topsoil to shift. For more details nearer the day make sure you've signed up to the OCV email list.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tom Bulford

Saturday 3 Jul 2021Skunk Cabbage DiggingWhite Barn Lane, Boars Hill
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Put the words 'skunk' and 'cabbage' together and what do you get? Well, the scientific answer is Lysichiton Americanus, otherwise known as Skunk Cabbage. It's a non-native horticultural monster that tends to quickly dominate the wet woodland habitats that it enjoys. It's also difficult to remove once established, nevertheless that's what we'll try to do today on a private site on the south west slope of Boars Hill. We'll try every which way to see how best to tackle the plant. It grows from a large, usually deep, rhizome so we'll be digging, mattocking, levering and lopping. It may be that removing it by hand is too difficult to be worthwhile, especially given the extent of the spread of the plant down stream from Boars Hill, but if we don't give it a go we'll never know. Notice too that this is one of our occasional Saturday tasks.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 4 Jul 2021Water Meadow Mow & RakeBurnt Mill Meadow, Old Marston
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You don't see a new OCV site for a year or so, and then two show up at once. We were meant to mow the water meadow at Burnt Mill back in May, but the site was underwater, so today we'll try again. Burnt Mill Meadow (otherwise known as Almonds Farm Fields) lies on the cusp of the Cherwell flood plain immediately to the north of the The Victoria Arms pub in North Oxford, and is owned by Oxford City Council. The Freshwater Habitats Trust, together with Judy Webb and in collaboration with the current tenant farmer, have drawn up a management plan for the site. Today we'll be working on one element of that plan to mow and rake a strip of meadow area in the northern corner of the site along the wet channel that runs along the foot of the shallow-banked escarpment. It's likely to be wet underfoot, so bring wellingtons! The site is a prime example of a unique habitat contingent upon its peculiar geographic and geological characterists. For more details on the history of the site and the flora and fauna it supports see Judy Webb's web-site page here: https://judithwebb.weebly.com/almonds-farm-bank.html
Leader: Tom HeathDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 6 Jul 2021Committee 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 Jul 2021Step and Path ConstructionCrecy 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 over the last year to reclaim the unimproved grassland from the invasive scrub that had come to dominate. We were last here a month ago to reinstate good access to the site via the main entrance with some extensive path and step work. The plan for today is to securely revet the steps we constructed in June, and to renovate the stepped path in the middle of the site.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 18 Jul 2021Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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The Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns is managed by Natural England and, as usual, we'll be working under the guidance of one of the site wardens. This is often the best time of year to appreciate the flowers natural to the chalk grassland habitat, the main feature of the reserve. It's likely that we'll be asked to help out with work that had to be postponed over the past year. Details will be announced on the mailing list in the week preceding the task. So if you're not already on our mailing list, then now is the time to join it. We're always looking for new task leaders (OCV depends on some volunteers being willing to lead) and an Aston Rowant task is a great opportunity to try it out under the supervision of one of the wardens. Contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk for more details.
Leader: Jenny HillDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 25 Jul 2021Meadow Mow & RakeNorth Hinksey Nature Reserve
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Last summer we spent two days mowing the two meadow areas on the reserve either side of the central hedge. Today we'll try and complete the job in just the one day. 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. There will be full details in the weekly task email as usual.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tom Bulford

Sunday 1 Aug 2021Post and Wire Fencing IWolfson College Water Meadows
A new site for OCV. The Wolfson College water meadows lie immediately opposite the college grounds on the east bank of the Cherwell. Both of them are designated sites of special scientific interest (SSSI). They lie in the flood plain of the Cherwell and have been used as pasture and hay meads since medieval times. They remain a superb flower habitat, now owned and managed by Wolfson College. The meadows are grazed in winter which mean they need stock proof fencing. Today we'll install the first stretch of a new fence that will separate the north meadow from the public footpath that follows the bank of the river. We'll need to cut back some head high vegetation to get to the fence-line; remove the old fence, then install straining posts, intermediate posts, and, finally, the new stock wire. There'll be lots to do! For more details look for the task email. For directions to the site check out the reserve web page for Wolfson College Water Meadows on our website.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 3 Aug 2021Committee meetingThe Head Of The River
The committee meets once a month to make sure that the group operates smoothly. Prior to COVID19 meetings were held in the town hall and we hope to return there soon, but for now we'll be taking advantage of the warmer weather to meet outdoors. You don't need to be a committee member to join us, please email secretary@ocv.org.uk with a few days notice so that I can make a booking.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 8 Aug 2021Post and Wire Fencing IIWolfson College Water Meadows
Another day on the Wolfson water meadows with more work on a new fence that separates the north meadow from the public footpath on the bank of the Cherwell. Today we'll look to install three more straining posts to accommodate the beginnings of a gentle curve in the course of the river. If you were with us last week you'll know what to expect. If not, get to it! Full details as usual in the weekly task email, so make sure you're signed up to the OCV email list.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Volunteer to drive

Saturday 14 Aug 2021OCV Scythe Training CourseThe Old Farmyard, Emmer Green, Reading
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OCV has raised funds to pay for a one day training course on the use of the particular kind of scythe, a so-called Austrian scythe, that we have been using for six or seven summer seasons now. Of all the tools that we have the scythes are the most difficult to use, but the most satisfying to use when used properly. They are also our most delicate tools and there is some skill required to use them well and safely. Today is a great opportunity to learn the basics. The course will be given by Clive Leeke at his base in the Chilterns just outside Reading (https://www.theoldfarmyard.co.uk ). The course will be free to volunteers. There will be eight places on the course and a reserve list. This is the place to thank the fund raising officers on our committee whose work often goes unnoticed. Booking priority will be given to members of the OCV committee, OCV leaders and drivers, paid up members of OCV, then all volunteers. At the time of writing we intend to take volunteers in the OCV minibus from Oxford. Contact Phil Hunter tasks@ocv.org.uk for more details.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 15 Aug 2021Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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This National Nature Reserve is an OCV favourite. It's set on the chalk slopes that mark the western boundary of the Chiltern Hills. The sheep-cropped grass that covers the chalk is an ideal wild flower habitat. As usual at Aston Rowant we'll be working with one of the wardens. Full details of what we'll be doing, and where and when to meet, will be in the weekly task email as usual, so make sure you've signed up to the OCV mailing list.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 22 Aug 2021Grass RakingSt Mary's Fields, Kidlington, Oxfordshire
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As last summer, we'll be working with the determined group of locals who maintain this popular conservation area owned by the local parish council and situated between St. Mary's Church and the river Cherwell. The job is to rake off the mown material from the yearly grass-cut. This is important to keep the fertility of the soil low and so encourage the rarer plants and wildflowers. It will be hard but straightforward work and important for biodiversity. It's a big site, and a big task. Last year was our best effort yet with about 5/6ths of the job completed on the day. As last year, we'll be using tarpaulins to raft the mown cuttings to the compost dumps.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Tom Bulford

Sunday 29 Aug 2021Rush and Reed-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. If you had a place on our scythe training course earlier in the month today is the day to put it all into practice. Look out for more details in the task email.
Leader: Tom HeathDriver: Volunteer to drive

Tuesday 7 Sep 2021Committee meetingTown Hall
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The committee meets once a month to make sure that the group operates smoothly. Prior to COVID19 meetings were held in the town hall and after a long break I hope we will be able to return there, but please await further information by email. You don't need to be a committee member to join us, please email secretary@ocv.org.uk for details.
Contact: Jenny