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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wed 22nd June 2011 - Brading Down.

Carrie's Photographs.

This week saw us on one of our regular visits to Brading Down, where we were again working hard on the removal of ragwort (and doesn't the photo of our new van look smart!). We had an excellent turnout on an extremely blustery day, and no work on the down would be complete without a shower of rain - and at teatime!! The programme of scrub clearance and other work in recent years has definitely improved the area for wildlife, as well as making it safe for grazing cattle. Pyramidal orchids are a particular feature, and the area is also good for butterflies including common blue, chalkhill blue, small, large and dingy skippers, marbled white, gatekeeper, and meadow brown. In addition the ancient field system is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, with the finest surviving ancient field system on the Island (probably late Iron Age or Roman)found here.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

We have two items this week, the first is an interesting caterpillar found by Richard which is that of the Six Spot Burnet Moth. These are day flying moths, whose red wing spots warn predators that they taste bad! The caterpillars feed on trefoil and vetch which contain traces of the poison cyanide, and these toxins are carried on through to the adult moth. The caterpillars pupate on grass stems, forming a yellow coloured chrysalis.

The second is Germander Speedwell (Veronica Chamaedrys), a low growing, patch-forming, prostrate plant found in grassy areas and hedgerows. Its pretty blue flowers have a distinct white 'pupil' in the centre, giving it the country name of 'cat's eye'. It has triangular shaped leaves and hairy stems, is a nectar source for solitary bees, and in the past was used in herbal medicine to treat coughs and catarrh, and as a blood tonic.

Terry's Photographs. (showing the brand new Green Gym Mobile...!)

Alison's Photograph. (Showing members enjoying a post GG meeting picnic..!)

Many thanks to all those who have contributed text and photographs towards the blog this week.

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