Task Programme

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Sunday 14 Oct 2018Fen Raking ILye Valley, Oxford
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Today is the first of two days work in Lye Valley, Headington. The early autumn cut of both fens in the valley, the north fen and the south fen, is the major cut of the year. Rangers form Oxford City Council will do most of the cutting with an Allen scythe and we'll do the clearing, with help from the Friends of Lye Valley. What the Council can't cut with their machinery we'll tackle with scythes. Ecologist and Lye Valley expert Judy Webb will be with us too. (See a selection of her photographs taken on site in the photo gallery.) At the time of writing 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.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 7 Oct 2018Watercourse DredgingAston's Eyot, Oxford
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Road closures in Oxford for The Oxford Half Marathon mean that we cannot get to St. Giles, so there will be no pick-up at the Lamb and Flag in St. Giles this morning. But we will make the pick-up at the Tesco store on Cowley Road at the usual time of 9.30. 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. This time last year we dredged the southern end of the Shire Lake Ditch at the point where it meets the Thames, which, come June, was full of fish fry. The plan for today is to work with the Friends either to dredge further back up the ditch; or to dredge the area round Jackdaw Lane Bridge, which will also involve cutting back overhanging vegetation to let in more light. It's likely to be mucky, smelly, and wet so bring wellingtons. If the water levels turn out to be too high, then we'll pollard and coppice nearby willows.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Tuesday 2 Oct 2018Committee Meeting 8pmTown Hall
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, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 30 Sep 2018Hedge LayingRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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Our last scheduled task at Rectory Farm Fields back in March was cancelled due to snow. So the plan today is to pick up work on the hedge-line where we left off at the very end of 2017. We'll look to lay, stake and bind some more sections of hedge. It's likely that we'll be doing more hedge-laying than usual this winter, so this is a good chance to get your eye (and arm) in early on. If you've never done this before come along and give it a go, it's one of the most enjoyable and satisfying things we do.
Leader: Jenny HillDriver: Chris Skepper

Wednesday 26 Sep 2018OCV's September Social: Wild Oxford 5 Years OnOxford Museum of Natural History
For this month's social, we're heading along for a talk on the Wild Oxford Project run by BBOWT (Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust). Starting at 18:30 at the Museum of Natural History in central Oxford, Dr. Judy Webb and BBOWT Project staff will talk about the project's achievements over the last five years, as well as what to expect from the future of the project. Come along to “discover how the city’s hidden gems and the surprisingly rare wildlife that inhabit them are flourishing”. It'll be a great opportunity to find out about some of the parks and nature reserves in and around Oxford, and the work that goes on there. The event is free and open to all. Reserve your place here. After the talk, we'll walk over to the Lamb & Flag for a drink. If you don't fancy the talk, then you're more than welcome to just join us there for a drink instead (shortly after 20:30). As always, you don't have to be a regular volunteer to come - everyone is welcome. It's a great way to find out more about conservation in and around Oxford, and see if getting involved might be for you. Hope to see you there! socials@ocv.org.uk
Contact: Jamie

Sunday 23 Sep 2018Site 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 taken on the job of rejuvenating the site partly as a local amenity and partly an educational resource, and at this time of year it's likely that we'll be mowing the grassland and meadow areas, working on the paths, and doing some scrub bashing. 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: Andy MoDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 16 Sep 2018Site MaintenanceSimon's Land, Sandford on Thames, Oxford
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This secluded half acre of gently sloping reed-bed leads down to the Thames to the North of Sandford. The river bank was once the mooring site of the former Magdalen College Barge. In March 2007 the land was donated to the Oxford Preservation Trust by Mr and Mrs Simons of Boars Hill. This will be our second visit of the summer. We'll knock back any re-growth in the reed bed and tackle the large bramble patch that borders the upstream side of the site. There may also be some coppicing to do and some work to help dam the natural springs to enhance the wetland characteristics of the site. As before, we'll be working on behalf of the Oxford Preservation Trust. It'll be wet underfoot so bring wellies!
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ed Polehampton

Sunday 9 Sep 2018Demonstration Access ProjectAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our late Summer visit to our most regular work site: the National Nature Reserve on the Chiltern escarpment just above the Ridgeway footpath. Notice that this task has been brought forward by a week from the previously advertised date. Last month we helped out with preparatory work on some special gate installations. The plan is to develop an Access Demonstration Project on the Reserve sited in a field at the top of Hill Lane. All manner and styles of gates will be installed to demonstrate the range of possible designs and construction techniques. A formal event to open the project is planned for next Friday, September 14th, so we'll be helping out with the final preparations. We know from last month's visit that the digging at the top of Hill Lane isn't easy - clay with generous helpings of flint - so a big turn-out would be a great help. By the way, if you're a gate-anorak this is the task from heaven!
Leader: Tim EvansDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 4 Sep 2018Committee Meeting 8pmTown Hall
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, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 2 Sep 2018Meadow Mowing & RakingCuxham, South Oxfordshire
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Last summer we helped the residents of Cuxham take the first steps to establish a new wild flower meadow in their village. Today we'll return to mow and rake the meadow for the second time. It's a good size, but mainly level ground and with grasses rather than reeds and sedge (unlike Iffley island), so today's task is likely to be a lot closer to the genuine experience of traditional scythe mowing.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Dan Moden

Sunday 26 Aug 2018Grass 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, but if previous years are anything to go by the provision of generous, high quality, home-made cake rations will help.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 19 Aug 2018Reserve 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. Our work here in high summer usually involves either the maintenance and improvement of the means of public access or hands-on care of the sheep. We might also be installing more of the new all-steel fencing system. Whatever the job we'll be working with one of the reserve wardens, which means that if you've ever thought about leading a task then this would be a good one to start with. If you're interested contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk. Full details of the day's work will be posted in the weekly email as usual.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 12 Aug 2018Meadow Mowing & RakingIffley 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.
Leader: Andy MoDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 7 Aug 2018Committee Meeting 8pmTown Hall
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, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Jenny

Sunday 5 Aug 2018Boardwalk & Steps IIGreenmoor Ponds, Woodcote
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Today we return to Woodcote in the Chilterns for a second day of work on an intricate construction task at Greenmoor Ponds. What we didn't finish last Sunday we'll finish today.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 29 Jul 2018Boardwalk & Steps IGreenmoor Ponds, Woodcote
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A new site for OCV in the Chilterns AONB, managed and cared for by the Woodcote Conservation Group. The plan is to build two relatively short stretches of boardwalk that will serve to bridge a pair of parallel ditches, and so give pedestrian access to and from a lane that runs along the southern edge of the site. As well as the boardwalks we'll also need to install a free-standing handrail and a flight of steps, so there should be enough to keep us busy for two days work. Note that Woodcote is further afield than usual for OCV so it's likely that we'll be back in Oxford later than usual. Watch out for the weekly email for details.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 22 Jul 2018Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our regular monthly visit to Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns. The site is managed by Natural England and, as usual, we'll be working under the guidance of one of the site wardens. Summer time work at Aston Rowant could be fencing, path work, or looking after the sheep. As usual, the details of the planned work 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: Tim EvansDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 15 Jul 2018Post-task social at Jacob's Inn, WolvercoteJacob's Inn, Wolvercote
Come join us for a post-task social at Jacob's Inn, Wolvercote. When: 18:00, Sunday 15th July Where: Jacob's Inn, Wolvercote As you'll already know from today's earlier email, this week's OCV task is at Burgess Field in North Oxford, next to Port Meadow. It's a new site for OCV, and extremely well positioned for drinks and a meal afterward with many good pubs only a short walk away! We've chosen Jacob's Inn at Wolvercote, so we'll be walking over to the northern end of Port Meadow (about 15-20 minutes from where we'll be working) after we've finished packing up for the day. There'll be a selection of pub grub available, which you can take a look at on their website, and of course plenty of drinks to choose from. The forecast is (still!) glorious, so if that holds out we can definitely make use of their decked beer garden. Of course, you're equally welcome to come if you haven't been out on Sunday's task - the more the merrier! If the weather streak keeps up, it'll make a for a fine walk over to Wolvercote on Sunday afternoon. Equally, you can make your own way there and meet us around 18:00 at Jacob's Inn. As with all our socials, you don't ever have to have volunteered to come; everyone is welcome, and it's a great way to find out more about OCV if you're thinking of getting involved. Hope to see you there!
Contact: Jamie

Sunday 15 Jul 2018Post and Wire Fence RemovalBurgess 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 a large site of 8.5 hectares and, like Aston's Eyot and the Trap Grounds, it lies close to the river Thames, to be precise, 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. To begin with we'll dismantle as much as we can of a redundant post and wire fence that stretches the entire length of the eastern side of the site. We'll be pulling staples, rolling barbed wire, and knocking out posts. Given its location the site has huge conservation and recreational potential and today is likely to be the first in a series of regular tasks that will involve meadow mowing, hedge-laying, and scrub control.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 8 Jul 2018Fen Cutting & Raking Day 2Lye 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: Jenny HillDriver: Dan Moden