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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wed 21st Sept 2011 - Kitbridge Farm, Newport.

Although the weather was supposed to be dry, Wednesday morning was damp and drizzly as we assembled at Kitbridge Farm. Considering the damp start, we had an excellent attendance and as per usual Mark soon had us working away at various tasks around this amazing site. Having been briefed to keep a good lookout for any wildlife, the teams soon got stuck into clearing a large area to the north of the house (see before and after photographs above) and clearing brambles etc from the front of the house.The cleared area is eventually to be used as a nursery area for the Great Crested Newts. The initial damp start gave way to the occasional sunny spell (more like "real" GG weather!) so the ones who had come in shorts felt vindicated in their choice of attire....! Mark was kind enough to show interested people around the site and was on hand to answer any questions we had.

Carrie's Nature Lesson

Although not everyone's idea of interesting wildlife, our work clearing the site at Kitbridge uncovered lots of creepy crawlies, and the one in the picture is a Black Slug (Arion Ater), which is the 'grand-daddy' of garden slugs reaching lengths of eight inches! although up to 5 inches is more typical. The skin is coarse and granular and the sole is pale, often fringed with orange. Due to its huge size the Black Slug often accepts the blame for most of the damage to gardens, but actually its three smaller cousins wreak the most havoc. It prefers a diet of rotting vegetation, fungi, manure and even the odd decomposing dead animal (we found it under some rotten logs), and only during spring when these aren't so abundant and tender young seedlings are, does it cause most damage in the garden. So remember the old saying

"If it's black, put it back,
If it's grey, keep it at bay"

When disturbed it contracts itself into a slimy hemispherical hump, making itself difficult to be pecked up by a hungry bird, and sometimes rocks from side to side, possibly in an attempt to confuse its predator. Other more cuddly creatures disturbed were a baby rabbit and two small mice.

History Lesson ( provided by Mark Earp)

Apparently the site at Kitbridge was a huge military camp, and some 10,000 items have been found across the site including round rifle shots (which are amazingly heavy and must have done considerable damage to a human body), one of the first bullets, accoutrements from horse harnesses, helmet decorations, a large number of pewter badges, long clay pipes and metal spoons - certainly a very fascinating selection of discoveries.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs & nature lesson and to Mark for the historical facts.

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