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: Volunteer to leadDriver: 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: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 9 May 2021Raised Bed ConstructionEast Ward Allotments, Oxford
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: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 16 May 2021Reserve 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.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 23 May 2021Wet Meadow Cut and RakeBurnt Mill Meadow, Old Marston
Burnt Mill Meadow (otherwise known as Almonds Farm Fields) lies on the cusp of the Cherwell flood plain immediately to the north of 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 Meadow. 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: Phil HunterDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 30 May 2021Revetment 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. There are two other main jobs to tackle in addition: repair work to the decking of the boardwalk OCV installed back in 2009; and cropping the pollarded willows in the fen area in line with the recent management plan which is designed to re-establish the peat wetland - bring wellingtons!
Leader: Tom HeathDriver: Chris Skepper