Tidenham Chase, outside Chepstow, is largest remaining fragment of lowland heathland in Gloucestershire. The site is managed by Gloucestershire Wildlife trust who are expanding the heathland through conversation grazing and tree removal. The site is important for a range of wading birds such as jacksnipe and woodcock. Adders, slow worms and lizards can also be found on the heathland.
On 21st/22nd October 2023, a band of brave volunteers from GVCV headed over the River Severn for a weekend residential. Working alongside the resident (but thankfully docile) long horn cattle the group helped to clear and burn young self-seeded silver birch trees on the heathland.
Dave provided a good fire on the first day which kept us going until Sunday afternoon. The group cleared trees from significant section of the health while ‘working around’ the long horn cattle. The cattle joined our efforts and were always ready to take a ‘munch’ on the silver birch leaves as felled trees were pulled to the fire for processing.
It was an enjoyable trip with the bonus of eating and staying together in Chepstow. Congratulations goes to Richard for finding the nice micropub on Friday night.
On Sunday 1st October 2023, GVCV returned to Chruchdown to complete annual pond clearance work. The ponds at Churchdown support a range of wildlife including birds, dragonflies and newts. Regular autumn/winter clearance is important in maintaining healthy ponds.
On Saturday 9th September 2023, volunteers from GVCV combined a task and social activity (best of both worlds). In the heat wave that the UK experienced at the start of September the group spent the morning ‘raking down’ a recently cut limestone wildflower meadow. The Hay Rake is important to maintain the low nutrient levels which are preferred and a range of limestone meadow plants including rare orchid species.
The hay removed from the land was transferred to a neighbouring farm as winter animal feed.
Following a morning of hard work the group enjoyed a well-earned BBQ and beer.
On Sunday 18th June 2023, volunteers from GVCV spent a warm day working in the wildlife area at Chruchdown Parish Park. Tasks included mulching young trees to help them cope with the warm weather, path widening and conducting a basic plant survey of the meadow.
The group also cleared Himalayan Balsam from along the brook. Clearing the Balsam prevents this invasive plant from damaging the sides of the brook and spreading to other areas.
Ant showing Balsam pulling in full flow.
Lucy ensuring we pull all the Balsam – its good at hiding between the bramble and nettles
The weather was with us for this year’s task at Emley Castle. The sun was shining as we helped local landowners (Tim and Nola) to clear bramble from a deer fence in need of repair, prune the orchard and remove willow from an area managed for bog loving plants.
Tim and Nola provided a fantastic lunch for the volunteers to say thank you for our efforts. A great farm site managed for wildlife with great hosts.
Edward helping clear bramble for his Duke of Edinburgh Award …
… with a little help from Sian and Candy.
Orchard before pruning …
Lunch – normally we have lunch outside and bring our sandwiches so this was a special.
GVCV Social @ The Beacon Inn – Skittles and Dinner – Saturday 25th March 2023
Skittles is a great way for our Gloucester Vale Conservation Volunteers to show off their skills beyond cutting, planting and burning. On Saturday 25th March 2023, the group met for dinner and skittles at the Beacon Inn in Harefield (well worth a visit).
Despite our best efforts, Dave B won again this year and was duly awarded this 2023 medal to add to his growing collection.
On Sunday 19th February 2023, volunteers from GVCV gathered at Stinchcombe Hill. Stinchcombe Hill which is part of the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (A.O.N.B.) supports a wide diversity of plants and animals. The hill includes important areas of Unimproved Cotswold Limestone Grassland (U.C.L.G.).
Working at the margins to maintain a clear route along the footpath
Beginning the clearing of area to revert to grassland
Working with Chris Wiltshire from the Stinchcombe Hill Trust, volunteers helped clearing trees with ash die back, created log piles in the woodland areas and helped clear scrub from an area to be converted to grassland.
Some trees we cut down, some trees we support, a typical GVCV supporter in action
The weather couldn’t have been better for a day on the hill as super keen GVCV volunteer David Blatcher noted, ‘I just love these tasks, I don’t know how Candy manages to book the weather. I am going to buy her a pint in the pub on the way home to say thank you’.
Just look at that sky – location could have been Greece, Spain or Italy, and no passport needed
GVCV is always welcoming new volunteers. If you fancy a day in the sunshine helping the environment, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
The happy group, still smiling at the end of a day’s hard graft.