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Churchdown park 20/12/20

Another visit to this wonderful community site in Churchdown – with something for everyone including play area/skate park/allotments/ponds and orchard. Today half a dozen volunteers were active in the pond area (5 ponds and two reed beds), which is part of a flood alleviation or Sustainable Urban Drainage Scheme (SUDS). We were removing some of the reedmace/bulrush, water soldier and blanket weed this opens up the ponds allowing more light in and preventing build up of nutrients from rotting vegetation that sinks to the bottom.

removing water soldier using rakes and a crome

It was a mixed day with sunshine and showers, not that it mattered us being immersed in water (well some of us were), testing out the new waders to full effect.

Richard smiling in his fashionable garb, posing with a water soldier plant

We almost completed the work but sadly a leak became apparent in the waders which stopped us splashing about in ponds. Fortunately this occurred in Pond E, the last one so we had managed t o remove about 25% of the reedmace – just 50% more to do in January when we return.

In pond E pulling out reeds, before the waders sprung a leak

After a spot of lunch, making use of the picnic benches supplied and partaking of some mince pies (as you do this time of year), we adjourned to some brambles nearby to clear these away from the ditch and fence line. Again, to be continued…..

All in all a successful day out in the park.

Churchdown 5th December 2020

  1. Churchdown Park

The troops were called in to help Churchdown Parish Council plant some trees that would have been part of a community project. The first task was to put in nearly 200 saplings (whips), from The Woodland Trust, along the line of an original hedge by their pond area. This area is a little gem for the community – 5 small ponds, copse. orchard, playing field and children’s play area with skate park.

Here we put in a varied mix of native species, slit-planting with stakes and rabbit guard (to be removed in a few years time and recycled). Enough space to spread out too.

The crew made simple work of it and we were done here, in the winter sunshine, in no time at all. Well done everyone, can’t wait to see it all growing up.

Now for part 2…

2. John Daniels Park

So, after out lunch break by the ponds in Churchdown Park we set off to John Daniels Way to plant a double row hedge by the chain-link fence at the far end of the playing field.

The weather was definitely with us as we used up the rest of the trees (about 150 left) to plant and hopefully provide a screen to the fence and a habitat for insects, birds and mammals once established. Quite hard to plant into as thick clay so a bit of extra digging involved.

We didn’t quite have enough to go all the way along so hope to be back next year to finish this off. Thanks again to all the volunteers for their efforts.

GVCV tree planting at puckham Woods 29/1/2020

GVCV TASK 29 NOVEMBER 2020 AT PUCKHAM WOODS

On Sunday 29 November 2020 GVCV worked on a farm at Puckham Woods for FWAGSW.

The Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAGSW) is a registered charity representing the region’s farmers and landowners in the delivery of wildlife conservation. They are part funded by Natural England and work with partner conservation organizations including the Wildlife Trust. In Gloucestershire they are heavily involved in Water with Integrated Local Delivery (WILD) projects restoring ditches, streams and rivers to aid the currently failing ecology and fish populations.

The work at Puckham today was extending an existing area of woodland, partly as replacement for a number of Ash trees which are diseased and will shortly have to be felled. A deal of conservation work has already been carried out in this location including formation of a chain of ponds in a valley with associated drainage channels and streams with hardcore beds to prevent erosion and to provide fording points. We are told that the plan is for a further 3,000 trees to be planted here and the first of them are already on site awaiting the gentle ministrations of volunteer groups.

One of the chain of ponds formed a part of the controlled drainage system, as well as a resource for wildlife.

The site at the start of the day – empty

The site at the end of the day – fully planted up.

Our first task was to move the trees, protective tubes and stability stakes from a stockpile in an adjant field to the planting location. The FWAGSW rep had already been on site and planted a set of bamboo markers to show the spacing of the trees , Further she had labelled each marker with the type of tree to be planted there. Then followed a period of people walking around the site shouting “I have a Prunus – find me a Prunus marker anyone” Eventually an appropriate tree was placed beside each of the markers, together with a protective plastic tube and a timber stake and the planting process could begin,

The first planting process is a slot in the ground cut with a spade

The protective tubes need to be screwed into the ground to exclude rodents etc

Such was the energy and enthusiasm of the volunteers that we cruised through the 100 trees, finishing well before lunchtime. After consulting with the landowner and the FWAGSW rep we extended our planting to adjacent areas, including some challenging locations on steep banks.

The mist was present all day, as can be seen in the photographs, and as time went by it became thicker and we were losing the light so we called an unusually early halt, having filled our quota, and all went home for a hot shower.

Stanway Ash Wood 15/11/2020

GVCV TASK 15 NOVEMBER 2020 – STANWAY ASH WOOD

On Sunday 15 November 2020 GVCV worked in Stanway Ash Wood, Tewksbury for FWAGSW, continuing an ongoing task of coppicing a Hazel grove.. See the report from out first session at this location GVCV TASK 01 DECEMBER 2019 – STANWAY ASH WOOD for an overview of the site and the task.

Our raised platform and bundled stems as at the end of previous session. Compare with the greatly increased volume in the team photo taken at the end of the current session.

A textbook example of a coppiced stool – well done the man / woman who produced this.

We try to make first timers especially welcome, though some of them look like old hands from the start, finding a comfortable seat at lunch time.

A classic example of a two man job – one working and one watching.

The small diameter stems we cut we harvested for use but the coppicing process meant we also had to take out the larger stems. These must be of use, though we were not told for what, so we stacked them neatly for others to process. We did however utilise them as a dry seating during lunch.

A possibly greater issue is the large amount of brash which we are producing. On many sites we burn the brash which disposes of it, keeps us warm on frosty days and allows us to offer baked potatoes for lunch. Fires however are not permitted on this site.

This shot shows that we are actually achieving a cleared space in the grove – we just need to achieve an awful lot more of it.

A great team photo. A set of fulfilled volunteers standing proudly beside their achievement, a nearly full containment of Hazel bundles.

Oat hill track, bredon hill, westmancote 15 november 2020

A return visit to this site, on Kemerton Estate land, where we have been removing certain trees and scrub from alongside a wild flower-rich verge. Much of the hawthorn and field maples were to be left on the line of an old wall.

Six valiant volunteers armed with loppers, bowsaws and shears made further headway into the task and now a fair strip of the verge is open to the sunlight and ready for the next growing season. We came across a large Crab Apple tree and tested the fruit – a little sharp but edible. This was left in situ along with plenty of berry bearing hawthorn and also some mistletoe that was packed with berries. Good for the winter thrushes and other birds.

Despite an odd shower the day was quite bright with good views towards the Avon Valley. We finished just in time as the rain became more persistent. still some left to do but we made3 good progress

Stanway ash wood 01/11/2020

GVCV TASK 01 NOVEMBER 2020 – STANWAY ASH WOOD

On Sunday 01 November 2020 GVCV worked in Stanway Ash Wood, Tewksbury for FWAGSW.

The Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAGSW) is a registered charity representing the region’s farmers and landowners in the delivery of wildlife conservation. They are part funded by Natural England and work with partner conservation organizations including the Wildlife Trust. In Gloucestershire they are heavily involved in Water with Integrated Local Delivery (WILD) projects restoring ditches, streams and rivers to aid the currently failing ecology and fish populations.

Our specific task that day was to make continue the task we started last year, coppicing an area of the hazel, which had not been done for some 40 years previously. Specific birds, insects and mammals depend on young hazel and left untended the stems grow into substantial trees, producing a changed habitat, so regular coppicing is required to maintain the existing ecology.

The hazel we harvested will be used in the FWAGSW waterway restoration projects. We cut the stems into 5 foot lengths and tied them into manageable bundles. These bundles will be taken and fixed as reinforcement for the banks of waterways to help prevent erosion.

The Hazel bundles being placed to reinforce a stream bank

Rather than leaving the bundles on the ground, where they would quickly degrade we constructed a raised platform on which to stack them during our earlier task. Our construction was of a lightly lesser standard than the bridge over the river Kwai but it did exactly what we wanted of it.

Not all of the bundles we had previously created had been used and the un-used remainder had fallen apart as we had tied them with garden twine which is intended to disintegrate over time. During this task we re-tied those bundles using bailer twine which is weatherproof and rotproof and, in this case, luminous yellow.

The bundles as we left them last time

The remaining bundles from the last time as we found them this time

The old bundles re-tied with bailer twine and ready for use again..

As we were working at some distance from our previous location we constructed another platform to receive our new product. We did it faster this time, practice making perfect, and populated it with our new bundles.

Proud owner of a heap of brash, by-product of the harvested stems

Cutting the stems as low down on the stool as possible. Tough on the knees. Note the colour co-ordinated top, wellies and gloves, fashion always being high on GVCV list of priorities.

We achieved quite a lot during the morning but shortly after lunch the heavens opened and we had a wet finish, which left us physically dampened but with enthusiasm unabated. Bring on the next task day here!

Oat Hill Track, Westmancote (Kemerton estate) 18 October 2020

Today we were working for the Kemerton Estate – an environmentally responsible farm and estate. Below Bredon Hill nr Westmancote removing small trees (except much of the Hawthorn and Field Maple as well as some Crab Apple/Wildings) and bramble that are encroaching on a wild flower-rich verge at the side of the Oat Hill track. We piled the cuttings into the nearby field in small piles so the estate can check for hedgehogs etc before burning the material. The aim is to increase the diversity of plants and maintain it as a verge. Still plenty more to do and hopefully we will return here next year.

starting
getting stuck in
opening up to allow light in
Stock piles
finished

Tewkesbury Nature Reserve 23rd August 2020

Today the group worked on the Orchard off Queen’s Road Tewkesbury. This is part of the larger Tewkesbury Nature Reserve(TNR) tewkesburynaturereserve.org.uk a natural floodplain of mostly grassland, grazed by sheep and cattle. There have been a few scrapes recently added to improve the biodiversity particularly for birds. The orchard is linked to the Priors Park Neighbourhood Project which includes allotments.

The work was to remove encroaching vegetation and create a wide path to the rear. Six of us took part and we were visited by a member of TNR who is responsible for volunteer work parties at the site. We managed to clear an area of mostly bramble and blackthorn that opened up the site and freed around some of the fruit trees planted here including plum. apple and pear giving more light and reducing competition. Compost heaps are also envisaged for the area to supply the next door allotments.

before we started
the work nearing completion
Work almost completed

A pleasant days work with good weather and keen volunteers and a satisfactory task completed

Quedgeley LNR 20/09/2020

Today the group visited Quedgeley reserve to reinstate the dead hedge by the pond (that had sadly been vandalised). The group (5 of us) were split between working by the pond and clearing plus weeding the hedge at main entrance to the reserve.

We used some wood that had been cut previously to make stakes and hammered these in to holes, making them very sturdy and hopefully difficult to uplift. then weaved in longer pieces to about 5 ft or so. Access is now round to the left rather than directly alongside edge of pond.

completed dead hedge by pond

The hedge at front also got a make-over with about a metre or two being strimmed and under hedge weeded of nettle and bindweed. We added several inches (or centimetres) of chippings to try and suppress the weeds. The hedge (planted a few years ago) is doing very well, only 5 more years or so and we can lay it.

removing bindweed
strimmed area by hedge

Farmcote, Winchcombe 01.03.2020

GVCV TASK 01 MARCH 2020 AT FARMCOTE, WINCHCOMBE

On Sunday 01 March 2020 GVCV worked on a farm at Farmcote, Winchcombe for FWAGSW.

The Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAGSW) is a registered charity representing the region’s farmers and landowners in the delivery of wildlife conservation. They are part funded by Natural England and work with partner conservation organizations including the Wildlife Trust. In Gloucestershire they are heavily involved in Water with Integrated Local Delivery (WILD) projects restoring ditches, streams and rivers to aid the currently failing ecology and fish populations.

Our allotted task that day was to make a start on coppicing a stand of hazel, which had not been previously done for a number of years. Specific birds, insects and mammals depend on young hazel and left untended the stems grow into substantial trees, producing a changed habitat, so regular coppicing is required to maintain the existing ecology.

This particular hazel was of the Cobnut variety which appeared to have been planted for commercial cropping of the nuts. Cob nuts in the shops cost twice as much as hazel nuts! Cobnuts originate from Kent and are sometimes called Kentish nuts. Young nuts have a taste like coconut and a can be eaten on their own or added to salads or in baking. Mature nuts have a deeper, richer flavor and should be roasted then eaten with a little salt or added to a crumble topping or used to add “crunch” to any desert.

The hazel we harvested will be used in the FWAGSW waterway restoration projects. We cut the stems into 5 foot lengths and tied them into manageable bundles. These bundles will be taken and fixed as reinforcement for the banks of waterways to help prevent erosion

Rather than just leaving the bundles on the ground, where they would quickly degrade we constructed a raised platform on which to stack them. Our construction was of a lightly lesser standard than the bridge over the river Kwai but it did exactly what we wanted of it. Looking forward we made the platform large enough to take the product of another 2 or 3 tasks.

Tea break – the best part of the morning. Beautifully straight spaced out rows of hazel behind.

Hard to concentrate on the task in front with such a fantastic landscape behind.

A happy team at the end of the day with our bundles of Hazel neatly stacked on the platform.

The weather was kind to us, cool, mostly dry and with periods of bright sunshine. And we were able to look back at the end of the day at a tangible outcome rather than the blank space we normally leave after a hard day clearing scrub etc.