Basingstoke Conservation Volunteers
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News - November 2017

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2017 Summer Programme Retrospective
The BCV Summer Programme was focused on grass and meadow cutting with visits to Sherbourne St John, Audreys Meadow adh Headly Gravel Pit. Members also did fencing and coppicing and some pond clearance in Ecchinswell. Socials included a visit to Magdalen Hill down, bike rides and themed food nights. The big event was the BCV 30th Anniversary. Group Picture below.

2017 Spring Programme Retrospective
The BCV Spring Programme was very varied starting out with scrub bashing, then rush cutting, fencing, boardwalk repairs and finishing with Bracken Bashing. A birdwatching trip and a very successful trip to the Isle of Wight were held resulting in watching of some of the Islands specialist wildlife. Mike's report from the fencing task at College Copse follows
A strong group of 12 BCV’ers turned out at Hampshire Wildlife Trust’s College Copse Farm near Rotherwick on May 7th to help clear Rhododendron and Cherry Laurel from one of the Farm’s copses. Due to the good efforts made by previous groups, we only had some isolated patches to clear up and burn to complete the job. This took us until shortly after lunch. Fortuitously, in the afternoon the Farm was also hosting a volunteer event to celebrate those who have given their spare time to the Trust’s Grazing Project over the years and to say farewell to Elliott and Laura who have been very much involved and are moving on to new things down in Devon. A number of us stayed on for refreshments and to enjoy a rare chance to visit parts of the Farm that are not normally accessible. College copse in particular was putting on a fine display of spring flowers

Dave also reported from Millfield.
Six volunteers turned up for the lovely weather today at The Millfield LNR to lay a mini boardwalk. One minor injury and 14 sleepers laid. Well done BCV More photos on the group FB page.

News - March 2017

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2016-17 Autumn-Winter Programme Retrospective
Between November and February BCV went on 7 official tasks with the bulk of the habitat improvement being coppicing in Pamber Forest. The group also supported the annual Ecchinswell pond task, took a trip to Burnham beeches, went bird watching on the south coast and rounded things off with a trip to Whitchurch Silk Mill. David's report of coppicing in Pamber Forest is below.
A Good turnout of 23 for this task with 5 new adults and 2 new young people. Best news is we didn't run out of biccies, the fig biscuits being v popular with the young peeps. The task was to coppice within a deer proof compound and by the end of the afternoon we had made a huge dent in the hazel, with a massive assist from HCV who were out working alongside (not included in the numbers count). After Graham's explanation of the conservation reasons for the task we set-to and had solid am and pm sessions with new people all receiving tree felling tips from experienced hands. The rain held off until quite late and only became heavy after we left. Thanks to all for the hard work and to the regulars who proved invaluable as advisors especially with the high numbers and new starters.

Paul also reported on a task from Millfield.
The weather gods were firmly against us on this task, with steady rain falling and the forecast not leaving much doubt that things were not going to improve a whole lot through the day.
That didn't deter 4 intrepid BCV volunteers turning up to help me with a task which we had described as coppicing at Millfield in Basingstoke.
It transpired that the task was actually grassland restoration, and our job was to cut down some fairly sizeable scrub (i.e. trees) to a pollarded state, so that a chain-saw could be used at a later date to fell them to the ground. All the cut material was to be laid along the main path, so that a shredder could then be used by Basingstoke & Deane BC to turn them into wood chippings.
The rain persisted throughout the morning and we all got thoroughly wet, with no luxury of a bonfire to stand around at tea-break (fires not permitted on this reserve), but we made good progress, though a few wellies (and the feet within!) fell victim to hawthorn spines.
Just when we were beginning to think that we'd call it a day around lunch-time, the rain eased off and we were able to enjoy our lunch break in the dry.
Soon afterwards, the rain returned, but we pushed on nonetheless and by afternoon tea-break time we had completed the vast majority of the planned work and could enjoy our tea-break with a feeling of a successful day despite the weather.
So, a massive thank you from me to the fab, fortitudinous four of David F, David J, Mike and Stuart.
A few photos of the results of our labours are below.
Paul.

News - November 2016

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2016 Summer Programme Retrospective
Between July and October BCV headed out on 7 official habitat improving tasks visitng Pamber Forest and Wigmore Heath in Tadley, Sherbourne St John, near Basingstoke, Headley gravel pit and next door Aldersbrook close to Newbury.
The group also went looking for Glow worms, moths and a BBQ supper during the summer months.
Several BCV members also boosted BBOWT volunteer numbers at Audrey's Meadow community hay cut near Newbury so that they could sharpen their scything skills. Mike reports back on the day below.

On Saturday we answered a call for help from BBOWT to provide additional scything effort for a Community Hay Cut project at their Audrey’s Meadow site on the edge of Newbury. This small meadow was donated to the Trust to be managed for the benefit of the local community and this event was part of that strategy. The aim was to showcase the wildlife of meadows while showing how useful products can be obtained by traditional methods. Therefore, while a few of us cut the grass with our Austrian scythes, others raked and turned the hay, moved it onto drying racks and even operated a couple of hand balers. Bug hunts were also organised for the children and Trust team members were on hand to explain to visitors all that was going on. As well as myself, Dave Jewsbury and David Buckler went along from BCV, and Guy Mason from HWT also came for the morning. Although it was a very warm muggy day, and the flies swarmed persistently, we managed to cut a decent area. Taking into account an area that had been cut during the week (to generate some dry hay for the balers), I was told that twice as much had been cut compared to last year. Whenever we tired, cold drinks were on hand, plus a selection of cakes to boost our energy. Despite the heat it was a fun day and we hope to repeat it next year.
Audrey's Meadow: David B, Dave J and Guy doing their impression of “three men went to mow....”.
Audrey's Meadow: Local visitors take a look at the hay drying and baling

Mike also reported on an official task from Aldersbrook. Sunday 9th October: BCV returned to the private site of Aldersbrook near Headley to continue working on an area of acid grassland that is designated a SINC (Site of Interest for Nature Conservation) and has had management advice provided by HWT. Most of the team coppiced Holly in an adjacent area of woodland, while Dave J used the brushcutter to cut back bramble regrowth in the parts of the field we previously cleared of scrub.

Aldersbrook: Dave L and Barry tackling the scrub.
Aldersbrook: David F tending the fire
Aldersbrook: Dave J brushcutting bramble.
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Reports

These now appear in reverse-chronological order - in other words, the most recent reports are just below while the older ones are at the bottom of the page.

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February 2011

BCV now on Facebook.
BCV now has a "group page" on Facebook. We hope that this will lead to a more interactive feel to the group, rather than all events and activities coming from your revered committee!
So, whether it's a piece of news that you think is of interest, an event that you'd like to publicize, an issue that you'd like to discuss, or anything else that has relevance for BCV, then you now have the opportunity to take part.
The BCV group is not publicly accessible - you have to receive an invitation to join. This is our way of trying to keep the content relevant and to prevent the page from being hijacked by "noise" from general web users. So, if you'd like to gain access, please contact either or , giving them the email address that you use on Facebook; they will then arrange for an invitation to join the group to be sent to you.

New policy for "using gloves on a task".
We've decided on a new policy for providing volunteers with gloves for use on work parties. The new plan is that you will now be issued with a brand new pair of gloves when you attend a task. You should then label the gloves with your name and bring them along to any subsequent tasks for your personal use. If/when they become worn-out through use, then we will issue a replacement pair for you.
We hope that this will result in a "better glove experience" for everyone.

Safety Equipment.
A reminder to all regular volunteers, that you are entitled to spend up to £40 on personal safey-gear that you use while on BCV tasks. The group will continue to provide gloves, but if there is any other clothing that you think is required (e.g. strong boots or goggles), hand the receipt for the goods to Dave, and he will arrange for you to receive the first £40 of the expense.

13 November 2011 Ecchinswell Hedge planting

Some pictures of the day's activities are below.

Rob gets to grip with tree guards. Dave putting tree guard in place.
 
Steve prepares saplings for planting. A new hedge is born ...
10 April 2011 Pamber Forest Photos from Neil

Here are some photographs from Neil taken during this fencing task.

... ...
Barry with James, Steve and Dave. Paul getting on with the most important job of the day!
... ...
Dave and Stuart take a well earned break. The finished fence with the coppice beyond.
Various Around Photos from Tina

Here are some photographs from Tina taken on various events.

Walking in Loddon Valley... Walking in Loddon Valley...
Walk in January 2011 in the Loddon Valley near to Sherfield-on-Loddon. Photo time during Loddon Valley walk.
Coppicing in the Snow... Walking in Loddon Valley...
Coppicing task in the snow in Pamber Forest. Dave at work ...
Barry Pete and Stuart
Barry pointing-up a fencing post at Pamber Forest. Peter and Stuart gets to grips with the wire fencing.
Driving in a post Rolling out the fence
Another post is driven into the ground. Stuart and Dave L roll out another length of wire fence.
25 October 2009 Ecchinswell Pond maintenance

Maybe it was something to do with the offer of free food (soup and hot-dogs), but a goodly crowd of BCV volunteers came to Ecchinswell to help in the annual pond clearance day. The pond is of good wildlife quality, playing host, amongst other things, to a colony of Great Crested Newts. Some work is done annually by the Parish Council to prevent marginal vegetation encroaching too far into the open water. The time of year is chosen to cause least disturbance to the newts.
Owing to the dry weather in September, the pond level was particularly low, making a muddy time for all concerned.
Some pictures of the day's activities are below.

Steve, Martin, Dave, Dave and Barry enjoying the mud ... Martin and Anna on wheelbarrow duty
Steve, Martin, Dave, Dave and Barry enjoying the mud exposed by the low water level. Martin and Anna on wheelbarrow duty
 
Getting stuck into the last bits The end result
Getting stuck into the last bits. The end result!

Postscript: By December, the pond was full once more and looking really good!

13 & 20 Sep 2009 Pamber Forest Coppicing

What a start we've had to the coppicing season at Pamber Forest!
After an excellent turn on Sunday 13th, even better was to follow on Sunday 20th, when 20 keen workers were on site during the day to tackle the coppicing task in Heath Copse alongside Bowmont's Brook.
Perhaps the fine late summer weather has helped, but whatever the reason, with such great support from our volunteers, the coppicing programme is well ahead of schedule and thoughts are already turning to what extra work we can squeeze later in the season.
Below are some pictures from the task on September 13th, lead by Martin Heath. Pictures are courtesy of Dave Jewsbury. The trip to the pub after the task was well deserved!

Elizabeth and Tina cutting a hazel stool Graham loading the bonfire
Elizabeth and Tina work together to remove a hazel stool. It's hot work as Graham loads more brash onto the bonfire.
 
Workers in action A well earned drink!
Everyone is hard at work, clearing back the hazel and alder under-storey. Time for a well earned drink and a chance that Jason, Graham, Keith, Martin and Dave were not going to miss!
15 Feb 2009 Pamber Forest Coppicing

After all the cold weather and the cancellation of the Noar Hill task due to the snow, the BCVers were obviously desperate to get out into the fresh air today, as 18 volunteers assembled at the Honeymill Brook entrance to the forest.
We were very pleased to welcome some new volunteers, so we spent some time introducing everyone, talking a little about the forest and then why we were coppicing.
The plan was to continue the coppicing on the same plot that we'd started in January. With 18 eager volunteers, we made great progress. In fact, the day was so successful that Graham (the forest warden) changed his goals for the area so that an additional area of the plot will now be coppiced this winter.
Here are a few pictures of a really successful, enjoyable day ...

Elizabeth cutting a hazel stool Lynn and Dave in action
Elizabeth cutting a hazel stool next to the brook. Lynn cutting up a felled birch (to stack in a habitat pile) and Dave with some smaller branches destined for the bonfire.
 
Jason adds to the bonfire The team!
Jason adds to the bonfire. The volunteer team!
25 Jan 2009 Fleet Pond Scrub clearance

Despite a dismal weather forecast and unpromising conditions first thing in the morning, five BCV volunteers made it out to the Countryside Workshop for 10 am. As conditions were looking up, we turned down the offer of work under cover and headed out to Fugelmere Marsh accompanied by Colin Gray and David Buckler. The original plan to brushcut Bog Myrtle had already been abandoned due to high water levels, so the work was to continue extending the 'scallop' in the marsh-side woodland to let in more light. Due to the relatively small numbers, we concentrated on the smaller trees and underbrush (chiefly holly), mostly leaving the larger trees for chainsaws. Defying the wet, we managed to light a bonfire to burn most of the brash, while stacking the larger timbers. By mid afternoon we had cleared a good section of the marsh edge of saplings and brush and, having ensured the bonfire was fully extinguished, were able to head off home for a nice warm bath!

Working in the wet BCV volunteers enjoyed the day despite the soggy conditions
Cutting underbrush to put on the bonfire The workers may be wet, but they're still smiling!
4 Jan 2009 Ecchinswell and Burghclere Winter Walk

10 people braved the cold weather to join Mike's walk on January 4th. We met up at Mike's house at 10am, and then headed off into the fields to the north-west of Ecchinswell. The countryside looked wonderful, with a white sheen from the hard frost and some watery sunshine picking out the winter colours.

winter scene the walkers
The view across the fields as we headed off The walkers

A highlight along the way for those interested in birds, was the sighting of a female/immature hen harrier, quartering in the air above the old railway line near Burghclere, very close to the area where we hold tasks. After a couple of hours or so, having barely seen another person, we fetched up at the Carpenter's Arms in Burghclere for a very welcome Sunday lunch, followed by some old-fashioned hot-puds to fuel us up for the walk back.
The return journey was once again through fine, gently-rolling countryside, with a mixture of arable, pasture and woodland. All too soon we were back at Mike's house, with the healthy glow that only a walk in the cold can bring.