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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wed 23rd Feb 2011 - Great Combley Wood, Havenstreet.

Carrie's Photographs.

Eddie's Photograph.

Considering the atrocious weather lately, we had an excellent turnout for a completely new site for the GG, at Great Combley Wood near Havenstreet, helping the Wildlife Trust with their pond project to create 25 new ponds over two years. This is part of their commitment to the International Year of Biodiversity, which has been funded in part by the IW Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership, via their Sustainable Development Fund. Our job was to clear all the trees and shrubs in a marked out area where the pond will be, many of which were quite big and very tall (about 25-30 ft), cut them up and stack them around the perimeter, while using some of the small bushy trees to make some habitat piles. Cries of “Timber” and even “Geronimo” were soon to be heard, as our hardy crew got stuck in. There was also the chance for some hedgelaying practice, as the Green Gym will have teams competing in this Saturday’s competition at Newbridge Road, near Calbourne.

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

Not too much in the way of finds this time of year, but some delightful catkins (see image) certainly brightened up a very wet and murky day. Many trees bear these elegant hanging cylinders of flowers, and a catkin (or ament) is a strand of tiny and inconspicuous unisexual flowers. Trees with catkins include those of the Beech family (such as oaks and chestnuts), the Willow family (such as willows, aspens, poplars and cottonwoods), the Birch family (such as birches, alders and hornbeams), the Mulberry family and the Walnut family (such as walnuts and hickories). The ones in the picture are actually on hazel, which are pale yellow in colour and up to 5cm long. They open in February, when hazel and its companion deciduous trees are all leafless, so they are one of the first obvious signs of Spring in the forest. The female flowers are tiny red tufts growing out of what look like swollen buds, and are visible on the same branches as the male catkins. Pollination is by wind, and hazel is self-incompatible - successful pollination only occurs between different trees, as a single tree cannot pollinate itself.

Mant thanks to Carrie & Eddie for the pics and text.

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