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

Sunday 22 Sep 2019Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our late Summer visit to our most regular work site: a National Nature Reserve on the Chiltern escarpment just above the Ridgeway footpath. On a clear day there are extensive views across Aylesbury Vale past, and sometimes over, the Red Kites that cruise the updrafts. Whatever the task, we'll be working with one of the highly-knowledgeable wardens from Natural England. Exact details of the work involved for today's visit will be announced nearer the time via the OCV email list - so make sure you're signed up!
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 29 Sep 2019Hedge-LayingRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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Our last hedge-laying task at Rectory Farm Fields back in January took us past the halfway point. The condition of the top-growth heavy hedgeline makes for slow progress but with a good day today we're hoping to finish the project this winter. We'll look to lay, stake and bind another 10-15 meter section of hedge and there'll be a bonfire. We'll be doing more hedge-laying later in the winter season, 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: Tim EvansDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 6 Oct 2019Ditch DredgingAston's Eyot, Oxford
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This large 30 acre site just downstream from Christ Church Meadow is an ‘island’ bordered by the Thames, Cherwell New Cut and Shire Lake Ditch. 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 Shire Lake Ditch – the watercourse that runs, or rather should run, round the eastern boundary of the site from the Cherwell to the Thames. This time last year we dredged downstream from the bridge at the main entrance. Today we’ll be working just upstream from the confluence with the Thames. 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: Volunteer to leadDriver: Chris Skepper

Wednesday 9 Oct 2019Nature Walk Social - 5.30pmPort Meadow, Oxford
October's Social is a nature walk in Port Meadow led by nature expert and ornithologist, Nick Boyd. Meeting point is the Walton road car park around 5.30pm. During the walk we will explore the meadow for signs of interesting wildlife and search the sky for brilliant birds. Binoculars (to be shared amongst the group) will be provided, however if you have your own pair, please do bring them along! We'll definitely head to a nearby pub for some refreshments afterward. As always, you don't have to be a regular volunteer to join - everyone is welcome. Hope to see you there!
Contact: Anne

Sunday 13 Oct 2019Fen Cutting & Raking I - South FenLye 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. The balance in favour of the wild flowers on site is now so well established that clear cutting by machine might not be the best option. In which case we’ll be scything the fen ourselves and then raking it clear. And there’s usually work to do to keep the scrub on the boundaries in check. Ecologist and Lye Valley expert Judy Webb will be with us. 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 by the golf course with no public access) but check the weekly email for confirmation. Make sure you’re on the OCV mailing list! Wellies recommended.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 20 Oct 2019Fen Cutting & Raking II - North FenLye 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 scything and 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, and we’re now involved as part of the BBOWT Wild Oxford Project (see bbowt.org.uk for details). Even though it's a small acreage, it's an important, long-standing, and relatively rare, urban habitat. As last week, you’ll need wellies even if there’s been no rain.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 27 Oct 2019Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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The beech woodlands of the Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve always look magnificent from late October to the onset of winter. This month’s visit will most likely see us working in the woods themselves or on the more open slopes of the escarpment cutting back invasive scrub and undergrowth. As usual, we’ll be working with one of the Reserve’s wardens, and, again as usual, the details will be announced in the weekly OCV email. We’re always looking for volunteers who might lead tasks, indeed without leaders we couldn’t keep going. If you’re interested 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. Note that British Summer Time ended last night!
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 3 Nov 2019Devil's Bit Scabious PlantingBeckley Park, Otmoor
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The aim today, as last year, is to plant several hundred Devil’s-bit Scabious plants, specially grown from seed, in order to establish a specific habitat for the Marsh Fritillary butterfly. We’ll be working to a plan drawn up by Butterfly Conservation and Natural England in collaboration with the private landowner. The main food plant of the March Fritillary caterpillar is – Devil’s-bit Scabious. The MOD rifle range on Otmoor is known to be rich in Scabious, so we’ll be working in a field on the Beckley Park estate just to the east of the range. The required kind of habitat consists of several discrete areas of scabious within a specific locality and today’s work will add another component part to the overall pattern of flora in the local area.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Saturday 9 Nov 2019 -
Sunday 10 Nov 2019
Coppicing Training WeekendWestonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
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In these training sessions, we'll be learning about coppicing: a traditional, sustainable way to manage woodland for the production of timber which is also excellent for maintaining biodiversity in woodland. Brian Williamson is a former OCVer, professional coppicer and hurdle maker, and winner of a Royal Forestry Society 'Excellence in Forestry' Award. He'll be showing us his current project at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire. We'll learn about the principles of coppicing, how to identify commonly coppiced trees, safe use and maintenance of bill hooks, good tree felling techniques covering some tricky scenarios. It will also be a chance to have a look around Westonbirt's incredible collection of trees from around the world. We hope to arrange camping nearby for those that want to stay both days. But if a night's Winter camping is not your thing, it should still be possible to come for just either or both days. More information about how to book coming up for OCV members nearer the time, but this is a warning to save the date.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Thursday 14 Nov 2019Nature Talk Social - 6.30pmOxford Brookes Headington Campus
For November's social, we're heading along for a talk: "Journeys of discovery: ecology and exploration" by Julian Bayliss, Oxford Brookes alumnus who discovered the largest rainforest in Southern Africa! His lecture will focus on the role of modern scientific exploration in conservation in Africa, and the technological tools at our disposal which aid in this process that were not available to explorers of old. The event is free but you do need to reserve your spot via Brookes (https://bit.ly/2ktL29N). If people fancy it, we might head to the pub afterward. Hope to see you there!
Contact: Anne

Sunday 17 Nov 2019Scrub Management & Tree PlantingJubilee 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 lying between the rivers Glyme and Dorn. The main job today involves cutting back a large area of overgrown scrub that runs along the ridge on the south of the site by the main footpath that’s continuous with Top Lane. There’s likely to be a bonfire, and, at the time of writing, some tree-planting to do as well.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 24 Nov 2019Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Another of our regular monthly visits to Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve, managed by Natural England and situated on the western edge of the Chilterns with extensive views across the Oxfordshire plain. The Reserve supports juniper, an extensive variety of wild flowers native to unimproved chalk grassland, together with sheep, woodland, and an abundance of red kites. Exactly what we do today, and where, will be announced in the weekly email so make sure you're on the general email list for the details. We’re always looking for volunteers who might lead tasks, indeed without leaders we couldn’t keep going, and we’re short of volunteers prepared to lead at the moment. So if you’re interested contact Phil Hunter via tasks@ocv.org.uk. Any of our current leaders will be happy to help you get started by doubling up on a task to show you the ropes.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 1 Dec 2019Woodland 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 we’ll be working for the Oxford Preservation Trust on a plan to open up the woods to more light, and to re-establish the wetland habitat. Note that we’ll be working in and near the woodland ponds, so bring wellingtons!
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 8 Dec 2019Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our final visit of the year to a favourite site on the cusp of the Chilterns managed by Natural England. It’s more likely than not that we’ll be working either in the woods or on the grassland slopes. Exact details of the day’s work will be posted in the weekly email, so make sure you’re on the OCV mailing list! Once again, we’re always looking for volunteers who might lead tasks, so if you’re interested contact Phil Hunter via tasks@ocv.org.uk . An Aston Rowant task is a great way to start. You’ll be under the guidance of one of the reserve’s wardens – Mick, Steph, or Tim. Any of our current leaders will be happy to help you get started by doubling up on the task to show you the ropes.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 15 Dec 2019Hazel CoppicingLangdon Wood, Aston Upthorpe
A relatively new site for OCV just to the east of Grim's Ditch on the approaches to the Aston Upthorpe Downs south of Blewbury. The wood is a designated SSSI and is mostly mature hazel on the west facing slope of Langdon Hill. The landowner has a grant from Natural England to manage the site and we'll coppice a discrete area as part of an ongoing management plan. If you came on the Westonbirt coppicing course then you'll be more than welcome today. An important part of toady’s task will be to harvest stakes and binders for hedge-laying projects in the new year.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 22 Dec 2019Scrub BashingCrecy 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. We’ll spend the day cutting back and burning extensive scrub to open up the paths and restore access to the site for both local people and the cattle that will be put to graze over the winter.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 29 Dec 2019Hedge-LayingRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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The final task of 2109. The plan today is to crack on with the hedge-laying at Rectory Farm fields. We were last here at the end of September and we’ll look to lay, stake, and bind some more sections of hedge. There will be significant amounts of top-growth to take out so it’s likely that there’ll also be a bonfire. A good day’s work today should bring the end of this particular hedge-laying project in sight.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive