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Friday, April 1, 2011

Wed 30th March 2011 - Golden Hill Fort, Freshwater.

Eddie's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

This week the GG Team were back out at Golden Hill Fort, Freshwater. We were there a few weeks ago hacking our way through a very overgrown area to create a new footpath. This visit was to put down chipped stone on the muddy path thereby making it more accessible to walkers. The weather on Wednesday started poor and got steadily worse...! The mist turned to gentle rain and eventually into a steady downpour - certainly not what the GG Team expects on a Wednesday morning. Even with the deteriorating weather we had a good turnout so it was all hands to the shovels and wheelbarrows. The Rangers had pre-dumped two huge piles of chippings, so it was clear the pathway of any remaining undergrowth, put down weed control matting then, using the wheelbarrows, tip them out to form the path. As can be seen from the above pictures, it doesn't take long to convert a huge pile of chippings into a "yellow brick road" through the woodland. We worked in two teams - each starting at the ends of the new path - working towards each other. We didn't have enough materials (or time) to meet up in the middle but I am sure the Rangers will have future plans for us with respect to that...! Watch this space....

Carrie’s Nature Lesson.

A strange-looking object this week - looks more like a piece of old polystyrene but is actually Slime Mould - a comparatively less well-known group of fungi which are in fact not strictly fungi at all but share some of the characteristics of protozoa, a group of animals of the simplest type, each consisting of a single cell. They might better be termed "honorary fungi" and exhibit characteristics of both animals and fungi. However they do not share the roles and functions of fungi, and physiologically they are both different from and similar to fungi at various stages of their development. The acellular, creeping, phase of the slime moulds is definitely animal-like, while the reproductive structures are plantlike, producing spores covered by definite walls. They are found in forested areas, where they appear in great profusion on dead and decaying wood, or wood litter, and on dead leaves.

In their feeding or trophic stage, they move about as a mass of protoplasm (plasmodium) devouring bacteria, spores and other organic matter. Research has discovered that the largest living entity is a slime mould measuring many miles across. The individual 'amoebae' live as a multi cellular mass communicating by chemical signals, and are classified in a separate Kingdom - the Protoctista. They can often be found as a white or yellow film (the plasmodium) under stones and logs, but the most striking occurrence is on grass or other low-growing plants during wet periods.

Many thanks to Carrie & Eddie for the photographs and to Carrie for the Nature Lesson.

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