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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, July 23, 2014

Wed 23rd July 2014 - Mill Copse, Yarmouth.

A silver-washed fritillary.

A peacock.

It was Mill Copse that was on the receiving end of the Green Gym efforts this week. With the school summer holidays just around the corner, the Rangers decided that Team GG should give this wonderful woodland a "make-over" so it would all be in pristine condition for visitors. When a pile of limestone chippings was sited, then something of a communal groan went up.... shovelling and wheelbarrowing, to repair pathways, on a hot summer's day seemed a little harsh! Needless to say, some of the team soon got into the swing of things and even the fact that ONE pile eventually turned into FOUR piles (some 6 tonnes in total!) didn't deter them. Other GG members were soon involved with erecting fencing, trimming back overhanging undergrowth on the pathways, litter picking plus all those "little jobs" that keep everything ship shape. The shaded glade areas certainly seemed to be popular with many species of butterflies - see a couple of them in the photographs above.

Many thanks to Sue for the photographs this week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tue 22nd July 2014 - Flowers Brook, Ventnor Update.

For all of you who attended the session at Flowers Brook back on that stormy day last February.... have a look at the attached video clip. Goodness me, can it possibly be the same place?????

A nice bit in there with Mark giving an interview - well done Mark!

Flowers Brook also got coverage in the July 25th 2014 County Press. Have a look at the item titled "Past glories recovered" on page 36.... and see if you can spot the 4 Team GG members who were there. (A clue - look for the GG shirts!!!)

I have just noticed the page counter has gone over 100,000.... so a big THANK YOU to all our readers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wed 16th July 2014 - Watershoot Bay, St Catherine's, Niton.

Just some of the "spoils".

This week it was off to the seaside for Team GG..... expecting to do our 7th annual beach litter survey for the MCS. This is a "Pick and Tick" job where we pick up all the litter that we find along the shoreline, categorise it against a printed list and then tick it off. The idea being that the MCS then correlate all the findings and eventually publish a list of what is found where, which can help them to identify troublesome areas and the groups of people most responsible for marine littering. Our problem this year was that the beach had been picked clear of litter by another group about one week before! Not to be deterred by such minor obstacles, we set off along the beach, black plastic bags and litter pickers in hand, determined to track down anything that had been missed previously or that had washed up since. Although the number of bags was obviously down on previous years, a surprising amount was collected - including rope, nets, plastics etc plus a Calor gas bottle and life jacket..! As the session was very well attended, it was decided that some of the group should tackle the Ragwort growing along the cliff top. Litter picking or Ragwort pulling was tough going in the hot sun so well done to all those who made the effort to come along, especially with the work site being so far from the parking area. Climbing back up that steep hill from the lighthouse can be hard work on a hot day after a busy session.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wed 9th July 2014 - IW Donkey Sanctuary, Wroxall.

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars (on ragwort!)

A Male Banded Demoiselle

Can it only be back in May that we were last at the Donkey Sanctuary? This return trip was to "clear-up" any of the Himalayan Balsam that we missed last time and then to expanded the search area further to the south. The areas we had attacked before were reasonably clear which shows testament to the hard work that the group has put in to trying to remove this unwelcome visitor to our shores. The new area  to the south had many clumps of our favourite pesky plant so we were soon deep into the nettles and undergrowth trying to eradicate it. By this time of the year the plants are often well above head height and can be spotted easily by the pink flowers and bright red stem. With the surrounding nettles having grown to a similar height, it can be "interesting" trying to make your way along the banks of the stream!
Yesterday's thundery showers had given way to a cloudy, windy day but that didn't discourage a good turnout for what may well be the last PPP session of the year. Once the plant has flowered, pulling it may disturb the seeds which would only help spread them even further.

Carrie's Nature Natter.

July is the month to watch for birds nesting on sea cliffs, dragonflies and butterflies, bats on the wing, heathland reptiles, and swifts, swallows and house martins chasing insects.

Our woodlands are fairly quiet now, as the main bird breeding time is drawing to a close, and our first summer migrant to leave is the cuckoo, with the adults leaving in July, followed by this year’s hatchlings a little later.  It is amazing to think that they travel all the way to Africa all by themselves.  Among the calls and songs you may hear are the cooing of collared doves and wood pigeons, while the melodious sounds of song thrushes, blackbirds and blackcaps are easier to hear now that many of our other birds have fallen silent.  In the countryside you may find flocks of goldfinches, known as ‘charms,’ while they twitter loudly to each other often singing from open perches high up in the trees or from the top of thistle stems.  With the advent of swarms of summer insects house martins and swallows are joined by house sparrows and starlings in pursuit of aerial prey, spinning and twisting in the air catching flies and daddy longlegs.

Arable field edges support the beautiful red poppy blooms and other annuals such as pineapple weed, white campion, scentless mayweed and barren brome. Many plants some think of as weeds are dependent on this habitat, and are among our rarest flowers.  Corncockle and corn marigolds for example have all but disappeared from the countryside.

Along river banks the creamy white meadowsweet flowers are rich with their heady summer scent, and are joined with many other waterside species such as yellow flag iris, figwort, hemp-agrimony, reedmace and the tall spiky purple loosestrife and hoary willow herb.  Young water birds such as coots, moorhens and mallards may still be seen with their parents, either feeding themselves or still occasionally begging for food.

Insects such as marbled whites, chalkhill and common blue butterflies are in flight, while the stunning broad-bodied chaser dragonflies are easily seen as they squabble with competitors over a patch of pond, river or wet ditch, and damselflies are common where there is any standing water.

A Closing Thought....

Now we have some 10 years of running GG here on the Island, it might be time for us to expand the concept into new areas. Whilst working along the banks of the stream this week, it was suggested that we might liken it to visiting a Gym / Spa. The gym part is well documented but the spa aspect might include.....

Skin conditioning and tightening (being stung by nettles)
Skin exfoliation (having chunks of it being torn off by brambles)
Cold water plunge (slipped into the stream and got a boot full)
Mud pack (climbing back out of the stream)
Tanning booth (working out in the sun for hours)

Now, what would you pay for all that in a beauty parlour...??????

Photographs this week were courtesy of Sue and the Nature Natter was from Carrie - many thanks to you both.