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Isle of Wight Green Gym - Official Blog.

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To look at the Isle of Wight Green Gym web page (contains details of sessions etc) please use the following link :-

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wed 19th Nov 2014 - Merstone "Station", Merstone.

Carrie's Photographs.

Before we started.

Work in hand

All finished!

Sue's Photographs.

At the start.....

And at the finish!

The picture above shows Merstone Station in it's heyday - when we arrived there today the loudspeaker might have announced.... "Passengers arriving at Platform One should beware of the brambles" - what a difference 60 years make! We normally visit this site around this time of year to rake-up all the cuttings after the whole area has been mechanically flailed but due to some contractual difficulties, this year the platform area remained uncut and VERY overgrown. Never mind, Team GG soon on the job with slashers, lopers, shears and rakes and by the end of the session the platform was looking neat and tidy once again. It was sad to see that the maze area that we have worked on during previous visits has all but disappeared, overgrown by the grass. Although the sky was overcast, winter hasn't really arrived yet this year, so working outside is still very pleasant. Perhaps this encouraged the excellent turn-out this week, we certainly seem to be the group to be with on a Wednesday morning, at the moment!

Many thanks to Carrie and Sue for the photographs.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wed 12th Nov 2014 - Pan Country Park, Newport.

Sue's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

The GG Ladies doing their bit for Movember!

Mark's Photographs.

The Grand Entrance to the site!

An attempt at camouflage - when wearing hi-vis clothing!

See... told you that it close to rain.

On the way to our GG session this week, I found myself chanting that old rhyme, "Rain, rain, go away, come back another day"! With dark clouds on the horizon it was amazing to see just how many members turned up in the Newport Football Club car park (thanks to the stewards for letting us park there) ready for a new, exciting venue. After a short trek across the fields and along Pan Lane we found the work area with the Rangers already in attendance and working hard....! We were shown around the Country Park site and the various tasks pointed out to us as we went. Those jobs included cutting back around the previously planted saplings (some of which were disease resilient elms), removal of  plant guards and the cutting back of bramble that had started to overgrow the recently planted hedges. Perhaps it was my earlier chanting, but there were only a few light showers during the session, with the sun breaking through on the odd occasion. The photographs above show everyone strung-out along the hedge line and around the saplings, clearing away anything that was preventing the "right" things from growing. The last one shows a well cleared area with an elm sapling just to the right of centre shot. All in all a great new site to work on.... We look forward to working here again in the future - hint, hint, Mark!

Photographs supplied by Sue, Carrie and Mark - many thanks to you all!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wed 5th Nov 2014 - RSPCA IoW HQ, Bohemia Corner, Godshill.

It is almost a year to the day that we had our first visit to this venue and this time we were to continue the work we started back then. The unusually warm spell of weather had decided to turn a bit cooler, but the sunny periods soon had people taking off their outer "layers". Three main tasks were to be undertaken, clearance of the vegetation and trees around the pond, cutting back in the old orchard area and to give the dog walkers' path a make-over, which included rolling up a considerable length of old fencing. Perhaps it is the chance to make a fuss of the dogs as they have their walks but this does seem to be a popular venue with Team GG. (Then again, it might be the fact that the staff their make sure we are well looked after at tea break - many thanks!). With so many people tackling a wide variety of jobs, excellent progress was made towards all the designated tasks and we look forward to coming back again to continue the good work. Perhaps we will eventually get to work on the island in the middle of the pond...?

Carrie’s Nature Natter.
November - the month of whizzbangs, rockets and bonfires lighting up the night sky.  However, these can be nice cosy hidey-holes, so before lighting up do check it does not contain any sleepy hedgehogs, especially if it has fallen leaves.
The last leaves of deciduous trees are carpeting the ground, the only possible exception being beech, which often hangs on to its coppery hues, and the yellow needles of the larch.  Although it is not one of our native trees it is widely planted, and its bright green spring foliage and red cones make it stand out from the rest; it is also unusual in that it is a conifer that loses its needles in Autumn.  Oaks wait until November to put on their coats of many colours, while the falling acorns rely in grey squirrels and jays to disperse them.

The remaining summer bird migrants are taking their leave, but the bare trees make it easier to spot the residents and winter migrants.  Birds most likely to be seen in gardens, woodlands and fields are flocks of roaming tits and finches, joined by the occasional nuthatch and tree creeper.  The passing years show more reports of blackcaps and even chiffchaffs overwintering, while rooks and crows once out of the towns seem to be everywhere, and magpies and jays are also hard to miss.  This month also sees the start of one of our most spectacular winter highlights - the amassing of huge flocks of starlings.  It is not known quite why this happens, perhaps for protection against the cold or predators, but early evenings at certain sites see thousands get together wheeling round the sky in a dark mass chattering and squawking - certainly an amazing spectacle to watch.

At this time bats enter a state of torpor in their hibernacula, and while this is not full hibernation as they will emerge on warm days, it is a state of reduced metabolism and body temperature.  Only dormice and hedgehogs hibernate, while other mammals, such as badgers, reduce winter activity and put on weight to survive the lean months ahead.

STOP PRESS. When you are glancing through the County Press this week, stop at page 35 where GG gets a mention for the work we did at Birchmore Pond (Wed 24th Sept 2014 - Birchmore Pond, Blackwater). Nice photograph of Steve in the pond! There is also an item about Himalayan Balsam picking, they have now got a punt so can tackle it from the water! Wonder if we can "borrow" it next year..????

Many thanks to Sue for the photographs this week and to Carrie for her Nature Natter.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wed 29th Oct 2014 - Millennium Green, Ryde.

Wet GGmers....!

A Job Well Done.

Mark's Photograph.
(showing the start of the dead hedging)

Our venue this week was Millennium Green in Ryde, a site we have visited several times before.  Well the forecast for rain was certainly correct, it absolutely teemed down.  Nevertheless some 14 VERY hardy Green Gymmers turned up, all sensibly attired from head to toe in wetsuits and wellies. There were three tasks for us to tackle, the first being to cut back as low as possible, the vegetation in the meadow to encourage the wildflowers to grow for next season, so we can attract as many insects, butterflies, toads etc as we can.  The working group here split up into those cutting by hand with shears to those raking away the cut vegetation and depositing it in a pile offsite.  The cutting back certainly uncovered a lot of wildlife, so we carefully relocated to safety several spiders, slugs, a shield bug and a toad!  The second task was to clear some invasive weed from the pond, which is having an impact on newts which frequent its water.  We only needed to clear away the weeds in the centre, leaving those around the outside as shelter and hiding places for the pond's inhabitants.  The third task was mostly undertaken by the volunteers who are part of the permanent group who look after this area, who were cutting down ash trees and using the cut pieces to build a dead hedge near the entrance to the site.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs and editorial this week (and to Mark for his!).... and a HUGE well done to all those who turned out in the pouring rain...!