Task Programme

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These are our forthcoming events. Details of pick up times and locations are on our FAQ and we send out an email during the week before each task on our Mailing List. For any other questions please contact

Saturday 18 Sep 2021Meadow Mow and RakeNorth Hinksey Nature Reserve
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Note that this is one of our occasional Saturday tasks. Back in July we mowed and raked the community orchard and the perimeter of the flower meadow. Today we'll return to finish the work on the meadow and to prune back the willows surrounding the pond. 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: Dan Moden

Sunday 19 Sep 2021Willow Pollarding and Hedge Cutting (South Fen)Lye Valley, Oxford
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Today we'll pick up work that was postponed earlier this year. We'll be working on the perimeter of the south fen, that's the smaller of the two Lye Valley fens, the one by the golf course with no public access. The willows at the top boundary of the fen need to be pollarded to ensure that they begin neither to block out light, nor to extract any significant quantity of moisture from the spring lines that are crucial to the fen habitat. The hedges that suround the fen on its other three sides are also in need of serious attention before they get out of hand. We'll be back here again in October to carry out the usual seasonal cut and rake. Ecologist and Lye Valley expert Judy Webb will be with us for the day and she's always more than happy to explain in detail why this kind of local, grass-roots conservation work on sites like this SSSI are so important. If it's been wet wellies will be useful.
Leader: Tom HeathDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 26 Sep 2021Meadow Mow and RakeCuxham, South Oxfordshire
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We first mowed the meadow in Cuxham back in the summer of 2017. Today we'll return to mow and rake the meadow for the fifth consecutive time. The work gets progressively easier each time we go back, though that's not to say that you can expect an easy day's work! We'll aim to mow a relatively large area of the grass meadow, and to cut back any scrub that's beginning to encroach from the thick hedge-line at the bottom of the site. Everything we cut will need to be shifted, so we'll be using tarpaulins to raft the cut swaths off the meadow. We'll be using the OCV set of Austrian scythes (if you can bring your own, then you'll be more than welcome) and will be working for the local parish council who own and manage the site as a wild flower meadow. You'll get an idea of what's involved from the photo gallery (click 'Cuxham South Oxfordshire' in the top right to go through to the reserve page, then click on 'Photos', again in the top right).
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 3 Oct 2021Shirelake Ditch DredgingAston's Eyot, Oxford
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This large 30 acre site is an 'island' bordered by the Thames, Cherwell New Cut and Shirelake 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. One aim of the long-term management plan for the site is to improve the condition of the Shirelake Ditch -- the watercourse that runs, or rather should run, round the eastern boundary of the site from the Cherwell to the Thames. Today we'll pick up work at the confluence with the Thames. We've worked here before in 2017 and 2019 and the good results are still evident. The inlet is an ideal habitat for spawning fish, with lots of fry in season. We'll be digging out thick mats of reed, cutting back overhanging vegetation, and dredging silt. It'll be mucky, smelly, and wet, so bring wellingtons. If the water levels turn out to be too high we'll change the work programme, so watch out for the weekly task email on the OCV mailing list.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Volunteer to drive

Saturday 9 Oct 2021Site MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Notice that this is another of our occasional Saturday tasks.The Trap Grounds is a small pocket of the countryside in the middle of urban north Oxford hard by the canal. It's managed by an enthusiastic volunteer group (The Friends of The Trap Grounds) and includes a range of habitats: woodland, ponds, reed-beds, and areas of meadow and marsh. 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: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 10 Oct 2021Reserve Maintenance/Hedge LayingAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Aston Rowant is our local National Nature Reserve, perched on the west facing escarpment of the Chiltern hills. This winter we've made arrangements with the reserve managers to begin a hedge-laying project at the top of Hill Lane. There are 100 meters or so of hedge to lay and we'll look to do as much as we can over the coming winter months. There will be a lot of cut material to process, so even if you don't fancy the first-order work of laying the hedge there will be plenty to keep you busy. It may be that other work on the reserve will prove more important in the short term, so keep and eye on the website and the weekly task email for confirmation of the task details nearer the date.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 17 Oct 2021Fen Raking I (South Fen)Lye Valley, Oxford
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Today is the first of two days work in Lye Valley, Headington. The early autumn cut of the both fens in the valley, the north fen and the south fen, is the major cut of the year, usually done by machine by the Oxford City Council green spaces team. The raking is done by hand, and that's where we come in. The aim is to keep the fertility of the soil low by removing as much of the cut material as possible. Any number of volunteers stomping up and down the fen at this time of year also mimick some of the desired effects of livestock grazing. The balance in favour of the wild flowers on this relatively rare habitat is now well established, but will need regualar maintenance to keep it that way. Ecologist and Lye Valley expert Judy Webb will be with us. (See a selection of her photographs taken on site in the photo gallery.) We'll be working on the south fen today (that's the fen with no public access by the golf course) but check the weekly email for confirmation. Make sure you're on the OCV mailing list! Wellies recommended even if there's been no rain.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 24 Oct 2021Fen Raking II (North Fen)Lye Valley, Oxford
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Day two in Lye Valley. Today we'll be working on the larger north fen with public access from the Slade. As well as the raking it's likely that we'll be working to control the flow of the central water course that runs through the valley by using the natural materials to hand. OCV have been involved with the Lye Valley Nature Reserve for many years now, more recently, in collaboration with the active local friends group, although any human time scale looks relatively insignificant given the site's 8,000 year provenance. See the friends of Lye Valley website for lots more information on this important, rare landscape: http://www.friendsoflyevalley.org.uk. As last week, we'll be with Judy Webb, and you'll need wellies even if there's been no rain.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 31 Oct 2021Fen Cut and Rake & Pond WorkLouie Memorial Fields, North Hinksey, Oxford
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Early autumn is the season for fen work, and Oxford has more than its fair share of these local but relatively rare wetland habitats. You'll find more information about the fens on your doorstep and the Oxfordshire Fens Project organised by the Freshwater Habitats Trust here: https://freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/projects/oxfordshire-fens-project/. The fen alongside the Louie Memorial Fields has similar geology to the fens nearby at North Hinksey and Raleigh Park. All three are fed by natural springs and all three have great potential as wildflower and wildlife habitats. Today we'll be working for the local parish council to carry out as much as we can of the autumnal cut of the fen itself. We cut the fen a year ago when the undergrowth was, in many places, more like overgrowth with a head high, more or less dense mixture of vegeatation. It should be a little easier this year. Make sure you can cover up your arms and legs, and wellies might be useful. We'll be using slashers, grass hooks, and scythes, and drag bags and tarps to haul the cut stuff off the fen. If there are enough of us we might also do some clearance work in the small pond at the bottom of the fen.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 7 Nov 2021Willow 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 should mitigate the effects of erosion along the bank.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 14 Nov 2021To be confirmed
THIS TASK TO BE CONFIRMED (as of 14.09.21).
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 21 Nov 2021Reserve Maintenance / Hedge LayingAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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The beech woods of the Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve always looks magnificent from late October to the onset of winter. This month's visit will most likely see us taking up work on the hedge at the top of Hill Lane, just across from the Cowleaze Wood car park. Laying the hedge will maintain its form and will promote vigorous new regrowth that should result in a thick, dense habitat, ideal for nesting birds. How much progress we make over the next couple of months will give us some idea of how long it will take us to complete the whole project. It may be that, come November 21st , the reserve warden would rather we tackle other, more urgent work, so keep and eye on the website and the OCV task email for confirmation of today's task.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 28 Nov 2021Willow PollardingBurnt Mill Meadow, Old Marston
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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 Meadow. Today we'll be working on one element of that plan to pollard a small copse of willows that stands in the wet channel that runs along the foot of the shallow-banked escarpment. The plan is to tackle these now, before they get out of hand. There will be lots of material to process. 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: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 5 Dec 2021Hazel CoppicingPissen Wood, Oxfordshire
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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 grazing deer. Today we'll return to check on progress, coppice a 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 groundlevel level are important for the woodland flowers, and the bluebells hereabouts are especially fine in the spring. We'll also be harvesting hazel stakes and binders for next week's hedge-laying task at Burgess Field.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 12 Dec 2021Hedge Laying & Site MaintenanceBurgess 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 to Port Meadow. The land is owned by the City Council, but the hands-on management is kept up by a local Friends group with occasional help from OCV. Given its location the site has huge conservation and recreational potential, and today we'll be doing some work on one of the many hedge-lines on site. The plan is to lay another length of hedge further on from our last day’s work back in February. We’ll be using the stakes and binders we harvested last week to knit the new section together. There will be other work to tackle besides the hedge, so make sure you’ve signed up for the leader’s task email via the OCV mailing list for details!
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 19 Dec 2021Reserve Maintenance / Hedge LayingAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our final task of the year brings us back to Aston Rowant, one of our favourite sites perched on the cusp of the Chilterns. It's more likely than not that we'll be working on the hedge at the top of Hill Lane, but watch out for full details of what we'll be doing and where we'll be doing it in the weekly task email. There will be more hedge laying in the new year, so this is a great chance to get your eye and arm well and truly grooved.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 26 Dec 2021Christmas Break
Today is Boxing Day - take the day off! Happy Christmas.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive