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Isle of Wight Green Gym - Official Blog.

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IoW GG links

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

The link to Twitter is https://twitter.com/iwgreengym

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wed 20th Aug 2014 - Flowers Brook, Ventnor.


The Waterfall at the start...


and at the end...!



Our second visit to this site was VERY different to the first one, back in February this year, when it was so wet and windy! This time the sun was shining and there was just a light breeze, just perfect. After liaising with the local group who look after this little gem, we decided that the waterfall area was most in need of our attention this session. Although we could hear the sound of the water, very little could been seen due to overgrowth - so it was out with the bow saws, lopers, shears etc and start cutting away. Slowly the stones of the waterfall started to appear so it was a case of cutting back, climbing a bit higher then cutting in again. Have you ever noticed that it is much easier to climb UP a rock face than it is to get back DOWN? Wellington boots with ice studs on them would have been very handy for this particular task...! The members of the group who were a little less adventurous found plenty to do along the whole northern boundary as most of it was in need of a good trim. The piles of cuttings started to grow and grow, just a shame that we couldn't have a good old bonfire to get rid of it (apparently it is collected by the Council).
The only disaster was that the person bringing the cups along for our tea break had car problems, but someone managed to produce some polystyrene ones which saved the day. Many of us took our tea and walked down to the pond area, goodness me what an improvement from that bramble patch that we worked on originally.

Thanks to Carrie for the photographs this week.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wed 13th Aug 2014 - Barncourt Farm, Wroxall.

Carrie's Photographs.



Sue's Photographs.








Although the title for this week looks new, it is a continuation of the Himalayan Balsam (HB) pulling work we have been doing at the IoW Donkey Sanctuary. Having made good inroads in eliminating this pesky plant in the fields by the DS, it was time to move upstream and tackle the plants that would "seed" the stream and then undo all our good work! The farmer at Barncourt Farm was kind enough to open up one of his fields for us to park in although several GG members seemed to have problems finding Red Hill Lane, let alone the actual field...! With everyone assembled in the car park, it was just a case of getting safely past the council workers who were rebuilding the foot path bridge and then get stuck-in. Initially the area in front of us looked reasonably clear of HB but the further we worked up stream, the worse the situation became. The plan was that we would clear the HB from along the banks of the stream first (to reduce the chance of seeds getting swept down stream) then work outwards. By the end of the session we were working line abreast across the field pulling out clumps of the pesky plant by the handful. Needless to say, we didn't clear the complete area but there was a whole lot less to re-seed by the time we had finished! Mark ASSURES us that that will be the last HB session of the year, so a big Hooorrraayyyyy..... it is all over and done with (for this year).

Carrie's Nature Natter for August.

August, hopefully the height of summer, and hot weather can make our countryside look parched and tired with brown grass and wilting tree leaves. Our hedgerows start to show ripening blackberries together with elderberries, which provide a tasty feast for hungry blackbirds and starlings.  Other ripening berries are hawthorn, sloes and rose hips, which provide food for many species into the harsh winter months.  On sunny days you may also hear the restful sound of grasshoppers calling, and other insects on the wing include small skipper, large whites, meadow brown and near hedgerows the especially beautiful orange and brown of the gatekeeper.

If you come across grassland that is allowed to grow unchecked due to late grazing, flowering species such as marjoram, lady’s bedstraw, black knapweed, harebells and field scabious are able to thrive.  Devil’s bit scabious, unusual in that its roots stop very abruptly, is also flowering. This plant acquired its name as the result of a folk tale, which tells how the devil in a fit of pique at finding the plant flowering with such beauty and so prolifically late in the year, bit off the bases of the roots from below.

Bats can often be spotted from bridges at night, flying over water whilst on the hunt for insects.  They are likely to be the fairly common Daubenton’s bat, and can be lured to fly close and investigate you if you flutter a paper hanky in the air above your head - just give it a try – they won’t hit you!

Finally emerging from their mud cup nests are house martins, whose parents provide encouragement by swooping and chattering around them. Large flocks of martins and swallows can be seen across the fields, and swallows can often be seen lined up together having a wash and brush up on telegraph wires.  August sees many birds in the middle of their moult, making them look quite down at heel, and their feathers are replaced gradually so as not to ground the bird.  This month also sees the majority of swifts departing our shores, their short stay reminding us just how fleeting summer can be, although most of our migrant birds will be with us for a while yet. Woodpigeons, however, may still be sitting on another brood of eggs, calling with their five note song as they swoop down through the air with several wing claps displaying and defending their territory.  Starlings, jackdaws and house sparrows may also be seen tending to nests of young, with the starlings chattering and whistling at each other from roof eaves and other high places.  They are amazing mimics, can often be mistaken for other birds, and sometimes will emulate man made sounds.  In the very warm weather, it is very helpful for our garden birds to regularly put out lots of fresh water.

Photographs supplied by Sue and Carrie and the Nature Natter by Carrie -  many thanks to both!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wed 6th Aug 2014 - Quarr Abbey, Binstead.

Sue's Photographs.


The long trek.....




 Guelder rose berries.





 A common blue butterfly.


Carrie's Photographs.




With the (much needed) overnight rain cleared, it was off to Quarr Abbey for this week's GG session. Turning in from the main road and heading to the car park was whole new experience.... gone is the rough track and bumpy car park, all replaced by a nice new driveway and a well laid out parking area. The workman explained that it was the first of two open days to show off all the new facilities made possible by a Lottery grant. All VERY impressive....
We were tasked to work in a field to the north west of the land around the Abbey so it was something of a route march across the fields before any work could commence. Some wooden pallets and old carpeting came in handy for traversing the barbwire fence at two separate places. Needless to say, this all took extra time but we were soon walking through the woods and being shown the task in hand. Along the boundary line of the land was a ditch which had become somewhat grown in
(a huge understatement!) The plan was that we should clear as much of the overgrown material as possible so that a mechanical digger could be brought in, at a later date, to dredge the ditch. With the workforce split into two teams we started working towards each other, clearing as we went. One group faced huge brambles and the other a blackthorn thicket, so progress was hard going but considerable inroads was made during the session. Unfortunately we did not make that "Channel Tunnel digging breakthrough moment" so perhaps we could have a future session to complete it?
With it now being the summer holiday period, the attendance numbers were down a little so, a huge WELL DONE to those who came along to work on what turned out to be quite a difficult task.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.


This week’s find was a tree covered in the beautiful red berries of the Guelder Rose (Viburnum Opulus).  These trees are found on the edges of woods, marshes and hedgerows, growing in both heavy clay and acidic soil. It is also deciduous and a member of the honeysuckle family, growing up to ten feet high.  The flowers are shaped like a wheel with the outer flowers having five petals and sterile, while the inner flowers are fertile and very small.  These provide nectar for pollinating insects, and in August turn into the beautiful red berries in the picture.

The red berries are very attractive to birds, who then spread the seeds around, although some trees can self-pollinate, while some are sterile and do not have berries.  It can be invasive, taking over another plant’s area to spread out for more sunlight, while its bark is used as a herbal medicine for cramps and asthma, and the berries can be used for ink.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs and Nature Lesson and to Sue for her photographs.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wed 13th July 2014 - Wetland Walk, Adgestone.

Mark's Photographs.








Walnut Tree.

Carrie's Photographs.
Before.


During.


After.




Sue's Photographs.

Before.





During.




Les's Farewell.




Completed.





If you have ever doubted the timescale shown on those TV garden makeover shows, then you should have attended our GG session today. The orchard / picnic area of the Wetland Walk was VERY overgrown, to the extent that there were only a couple of trails through the shoulder high grass and ferns. Armed with slashers, scythes, loppers and shears the whole team swung into action giving the complete area a "grade one haircut". Any flowering plants and shrubs were carefully cut around and it was soon returned to the meadow type landscape that it was supposed to be. Thank goodness that we had such an excellent turnout this week, perhaps encouraged by the fine weather or the prospect of gooey cake at tea break...! The reason for our special confectionary treat was that one of our long term members was attending his last GG session before moving across to North Island. "Lumberjack Les" had been with the group some seven years so it was with some sadness that the farewell speeches were made over cake and tea. Tree conservationists here on the Island will be breathing a sigh of relief having heard of his departure (only kidding Les!)
Several other tasks were undertaken including new posts fitted at the "kissing gate" entrance, teak oiling some of the wooden structures plus the usual litter pick and general tidy-up that we usually do. All in all an amazing amount of work was completed in the session, even Alan Titchmarch would have been proud to have got that much done in one show!

Many thanks to Sue, Carrie and Mark for the photographs this week..