Category Archives: Uncategorised

2024.04.21 Quedgeley Arboretum LNR

2024.04.21 QUEDGELEY ARBORETUM LNR

Our 1st visit for a year to this popular site in the heart of Quedgeley. 8 volunteers met up on a sunny day amongst the trees to help keep this countryside oasis flourish. We concentrated on our typical activities of pond maintenance, weed control around the front boundary hedge, path clearance, cutting back Ivy, litter picking and dead wood stacking.

. A garden with bushes and grass

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The boundary hedge we planted several years ago is flourishing. Nettles and creeping weeds can overwhelm it and keeping it weeded helps initial impressions of the reserve to visitors

A small puddle in a grassy area

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The pond we have worked on for quite a few years and it has recovered to the point it has water constantly in it! The reeds however quickly overwhelm it so need thinning. Quite a few sticks and bits of debris somehow end up in there too, all removed. The edges were also cleared of grass growing in from the surrounding banks.

A path through a forest

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To finish our activities we cut thick Ivy branches from mature trees, litter picked, although it is pleasingly free of general litter, and cut back overgrowth from some of the paths.

We enjoyed walking around the reserve taking in the sights and sounds of the wildlife.

A field of flowers and grass

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A sea of wild flowers today – see below

A group of people working in the woods

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Planting wild flowers – November 2019

We look forward to visiting again in the Autumn

2024.05.28 CLAVELL AND HIND WALK – GVCV SOCIAL

On 18th May 2024, GVCV explored the walking route from the new Clavell and Hind brewery outside Cheltenham to the Coombe Hill Nature Reserve – highly regarded for its wading birds and butterflies.

Exploring outside Cheltenham on a pub based amble

The group bravely navigated muddy puddles and a few outgrown spots to reach the reserve. After the pitstop for a drink/ice cream the group returned to the brewery for lunch and a well earned pint.

2024.03.24 Nosehill Bowl Barrow Clearance

On a sunny Sunday 24 March, four members of Gloucester Vale Conservation Volunteers continued our efforts to clear the barrow from encroaching vegetation.

The barrow is probably bronze-age and had become overgrown with thorn bushes. Over the last three years, our volunteers have successively cleared the barrow itself, creating a grassy clearing that is nearly at the perimeter ditch that forms part of this ancient monument. In so doing, we have also created a glade that will fill with wildflowers in the summer and provide a valuable habitat for threatened butterflies.

We should be back next year to strim back emergent vegetation and expose some of the ditch. If you’d like to join us then do get in touch.

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Making a start on the fresh vegetation that has been growing for the last year

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One big heap of tangled cut material from last time’s cutting

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Three-quarters of today’s team at work clearing

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Big heap all gone and our sunny lunch spot

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One clear barrow

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Today’s team of Dave, Candy, Mike and Chris

2024.02.25 tree planting & pruning at lodge farm, emley castle, GVCV TASK

On Sunday 25th February 2024, GVCV volunteers met Tim & Nola Lea at their farm in Emley Castle. 

The farm is managed under ‘higher level stewardship’ a government scheme that provides funding to farmers and other land managers in England in return for delivering environmental and wildlife benefits on their land. Tim and Nola have transformed their farm over several years into a haven for wildlife.

The group helped on three key tasks and in reward were treated to an excellent cooked lunch of venison and veggie lasagne.  

The first task was replacing native trees which has died. This involving shifting metal tree guards and replanting new trees in a new location to increase their chances of survival.

Tree guard group rolling

Second task was removing ties from the trees that had survived.  This isn’t as simple as it sounds as the photos shows.

Requires long arms and a ‘can do’ attitude

Third task was a spot of pruning of the orchard planted by GVCV many years ago. It was rewarding to see how quickly the trees have grown.

Candy and her big long pole

Thanks to Tim and Nola for a great day and for taking some photos.

2024.02.11 Bubbs Hill Livery Farm

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BUBBS HILL LIVERY FARM CONSERVATION TASK – 11TH FEBRUARY 2024

We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day for our first visit to this site on a very steep slope overlooking the hills and countryside ahead. Our aim was to make clearance of a quite dense hawthorn tree area on bubbs livery farmland over at Cockelford to encourage the Duke of Burgundy butterflies to make this their home.

We had a good team of volunteers support this task and It was quite challenging making our way to the site but we very quickly cut back and made a path through and light work was made of clearing a large area of hawthorn bushes/trees to open it up to grassland.

There was a huge number of plastic tree guards from a previous planting which we removed from site. That alone reduced pollution in the habitat

Here are a few pictures of the site before and after and a casual group photo of the team

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The “before” picture

A person walking through a forest

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Tanglewood

A group of people on a hill

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A vista of cleared area

A dirt path in a forest

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Cut material formed into in a dead hedge

A group of people sitting on a hill

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End of the day – tired but fulfilled – and the sun came out

2024.01.28 TREE PLANTING AT WESTGATE PARK, GLOUCESTER, GVCV TASK

On Sunday 28th January 2024, 10 GVCV volunteers met Meyrick from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) at Westgate Park in Gloucester.

The wildlife trust has big plans to transform this slightly unloved urban park into an arboretum for the benefit of the local community and wildlife.

In glorious sunshine the group worked together to plant, stake, protect and mulch a range of new trees onsite. The group also helped clear litter to give the park a lift.

Thank you to everyone that attended. Great first task of the year.

Morning tree planting briefing from Meyrick
Sian showcasing a very well planted tree
A Golden Acer to brighten up the park in autumn

2024.01.20 GIGGLING SQUID, CHELTENHAM, GVCV SOCIAL

On Saturday 20th January, GVCV ventured out for a post-Christmas meal in Cheltenham. After a pre drink in a highly recommended real ale pub – the Rotunda – the group enjoyed the Thai based delights at the Giggling Squid restaurant (conveniently next door to the Rotunda).

The GVCV January social is always an opportunity to ‘regift’ unwanted Christmas presents and this year was no exception. It’s always potluck what you get 😊.

With 16 people it was tricky to get a good group photo, but rest assured the group enjoyed the meal and the pre pub visit.

 A good start to a year of conservation tasks.

2023.11.26 Churchdown pond work

Clearing the last pond

Sun 26th Nov ’23

Back in October the Gloucestershire Vale Conservation Volunteers worked on clearing a series of ponds in a nature reserve at Churchdown. We didn’t get time to finish the last pond, so we returned today.

Great crested newts live in this pond so it’s an important habitat to maintain and it can only be done in the winter months.

This was full of rushes – no water soldiers like the other ponds. There were three of us – two in the water and one on the bank.

The vegetation near to the bank had to be cut with shears, but further inwards the whole plant could be pulled, including root.

A field of brown grass and trees

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Before the clearance began

A person standing in a swamp

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Working from the middle out

A pond with grass and trees

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See the difference now!

It was difficult because the pond was much deeper than the others, and the plants were heavier to drag out into piles. We had a near miss when Anthony slipped, but luckily his head didn’t submerge. We were pretty done by then so we started to wrap up.

We did however clear the whole pond, apart from some tougher plants in the deep middle. It was very satisfying to see such a huge pile of biomass at the side – means that won’t be rotting in the pond floor and starving the pond of oxygen and life next year.

The Churchdown Council rep said she was very happy with the work we carried out, which is always the sort of comment like to receive.

A pile of cut grass

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2023.11.12 Hailey wood coppicing

2023.11.12  Hailey Wood coppicing

A new site for the Gloucestershire Vale Conservation Volunteers today helping to coppice hazel in a wood on the Bathurst Estate. This is part of a larger project that FWAG South West is working on the estate. This particular part of the wood had a lot of hazel clusters which will be managed on a 20 to 30 year coppicing rotation.

The forecast for the day was pretty wet, so it was waterproofs from the start. The strategy was to sweep out in a semi circle around the clearing, coppicing the hazel with hand tools. For the larger, gnarled stems, Ed was on hand with the chain saw.

The “inner semi circle” got coppiced and you can see the next layer that needs to be done ….

We wanted to save the best, straight cut stems as product that can be sold locally to hedge layers

A pile of sticks in the woods

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Product for bundling and selling to hedge layers

The unusable chunks were set aside for creating charcoal in the kiln which is on-site next year. The brash was used to cover the hazel stools over to give them some protection from passing deer.

Looking out to the track, kiln used to make charcoal can just be seen.

The idea was to cut the multi stems as low as possible. This is done by first cutting down to about a foot and then hand finishing the stumps to a sloped shape to allow water to run off. We kept a maximum of four younger, flexible stems which can be layered down with pegs into the floor which will encourage re-sprouting of the tree in a new spot.

A close up of a pile of moss

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Hazel stool cut low to the floor

Some stands needed heavier tools

 

2023.10.21/22 TIDENHAM CHASE – GVCV RESIDENTIAL TASK

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.

Sian and Nige cutting in the rain on day 1

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.

Cattle making themselves comfortable around the fire site
Sunshine at the end of a hard day’s work on Sunday

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.