Task Programme

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Sunday 2 Jan 2022Site Maintenance & Step WorkStansfeld Park, Oxford
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Happy new year! 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. The Trust 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. For more on Stansfeld Park under the management of The Oxford Trust see their website: http://theoxfordtrust.co.uk/stansfeld-education-centre/. As usual at Stansfeld we'll be working under the direction of Dr. Roger Baker -- the centre's Outdoor Learning and Ecology Manager. The plan for today, among other things and conditions permitting, is to install sleeper steps and some post and rail fencing. For more info nearer the day make sure you're signed up to the OCV mailing list for the OCV weekly task emails that give all the details of each forthcoming task.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tom Bulford

Sunday 9 Jan 2022Woodland ManagementMatthew Arnold Field, Oxford
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Matthew Arnold Field in Boars Hill is a mixed woodland, grassland, and wetland site, named after the poet, and cultural critic 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 (the willows especially), 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.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Dan Moden

Tuesday 11 Jan 2022Committee meetingTown Hall
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The committee meets once a month to make sure that the group operates smoothly. Meetings are held in the town hall and we'll be in the Judge's room. You don't need to be a committee member to join us, but please email secretary@ocv.org.uk if you'd like more information. We'll probably go for a drink after the meeting also.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 16 Jan 2022Reserve Maintenance / Hedge LayingAston 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. At the time of writing, our January visit to Aston Rowant should see us pick up work on the hedge-laying project at the top of Hill Lane. We made a good start back in November and today will be our third, and possibly final, session. It may be that the Natural England warden will have more pressing things for us to do, so watch out for the task email for final details.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 23 Jan 2022Willow PollardingAston's Eyot, Oxford
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We're back at Aston's Eyot in East Oxford today to do some more work on the willows that line the banks of the Cherwell and the Thames. We'll be working for, and with, the friends group that manage the site. The plan is to tackle only those willows that we can pollard safely. Pollarding will save the trees from complete collapse, significantly prolong their life spans, stimulate new regrowth, and keep the paths along the river banks passable. Some of the willows on the Thames bank have already collapsed and are beyond pollarding. We might experiment with these by, in effect, laying some of the material to create a waterside willow hedge that might mitigate the effects of erosion along the bank.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tom Bulford

Sunday 30 Jan 2022Scrub ControlGrim's Ditch, Blewbury, South Oxfordshire
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Grim's Ditch is an earthwork, a scheduled ancient monument, up on the downs south of Blewbury, just off the Ridgeway long distance footpath. So this will be scrub bashing with a view. The site is privately owned and the owner has a Countryside Stewardship agreement with Natural England to maintain the monument in good condition, which primarily involves the periodic removal of invasive scrub -- and that's where we come in. We were last here in February 2017 and it's just about time for another visit. This time, however, we'll aim to 'pop' as much as we can with our tree-poppers, although that will mean we'll have to carry them a fair way from the van to the site (and back again). Watch out for the task email for access details!
Leader: Jenny HillDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 1 Feb 2022Committee meetingTown Hall
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The committee meets once a month to make sure that the group operates smoothly. Meetings are held in the town hall and we'll be in the Judge's room. You don't need to be a committee member to join us, but please email secretary@ocv.org.uk if you'd like more information. We'll probably go for a drink after the meeting also.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 6 Feb 2022Piddington Wood, Buckinghamshire
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Piddington Wood is a broad-leaved, semi-ancient woodland near Piddington village, south-east of Bicester. The wood is owned and managed by the Woodland Trust and today we'll help out with the first stage of a scheme designed to coppice the extensive stands of hazel. The plan is to work on a rotational basis over a number of years in a rolling process of incremental renewal. We'll also harvest hazel stakes and binders to use on the hedge laying task at Burgess Field next week. For more on the wood, including maps, see the relevant Reserve Page on the website.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 13 Feb 2022Hedge Laying Burgess 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. The plan for today is to continue with the hedge laying we began last December. There's another 50 meters or so that's already been sided-up and is ready to lay. This is about as tough as hedge-laying can get -- hawthorn, planted line astern, grown out, and long past its optimal age for laying -- but we'll do what we can! The Friends are willing and able to do some replanting with new whips to cover any gaps and to thicken the girth of the hedge, so it will take a year or two (or three) but we might yet rejuvenate and improve the hedge-line with the associated multiple wildlife benefits.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Tom Bulford

Sunday 20 Feb 2022Reserve Maintenance / Hedge LayingAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Today we make our February visit to one of our favourite sites in the Chiltern Hills. A land-mark for travellers on the M40 and well-known for its red kites, this National Nature Reserve is owned and managed by Natural England. What we do today will depend on how well we've progressed laying the hedge at the top of Hill Lane. If there is more to do, then we'll do it today. If not, we'll be helping the wardens who manage the Reserve with the winter jobs they have in hand, usually ongoing work to maintain or restore the grassland habitat. The details as to what and where will be described in the weekly email, so now's a good time to check you're on our mailing list.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 27 Feb 2022Scrub Control & Willow PollardingLye Valley, Oxford
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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 is also a listed SSSI see http://www.friendsoflyevalley.org.uk.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Tuesday 1 Mar 2022Committee meetingTown Hall
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The committee meets once a month to make sure that the group operates smoothly. Meetings are held in the town hall and we'll be in the Judge's room. You don't need to be a committee member to join us, but please email secretary@ocv.org.uk if you'd like more information. We'll probably go for a drink after the meeting also.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 6 Mar 2022Scrub 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. Repeated visits throughout 2020 saw us get the upper hand over the dense mix of hawthorn, rose, and bramble that threatened to overwhelm the reserve. Today we'll tackle more of the same. The plan is to take out discrete areas of scrub on a regular, rotational basis.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 13 Mar 2022Scrub ControlGrays Lane Bank, Ibstone, Buckinghamshire
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Another scrub bashing task, 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. There is no public access to the site so if you want to see it, come on the task! The landowner has made significant improvements and developed a long-term management plan that includes cattle grazing, some superb hedge lines, and a significant and flourishing population of relatively rare Chiltern Gentians. We've been asked to help out with the labour-intensive work of removing the self-seeded hawthorn and rose when still in its initial stages. So we'll be popping and pulling as much as we can find - a zero tolerance policy!
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive