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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 :- www.iwgreengym.org.uk.

The link to Twitter is https://twitter.com/iwgreengym

If you would like to leave us any comments then please use this link iwgreengym@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wed 12th Feb 2014 - Northwood House, Cowes.

They say that you are never too old to learn..... so what did we learn from our Green Gym session this week? Firstly, when there are amber and red Met Office warnings out for rain and wind, then believe them. The second lesson, when the rain is both torrential and horizontal - it is time to give up working outside and go home...! The first part of the morning was dry and we were making good progress at cutting back the rather overgrown hedges along the boundary with Ward Avenue. We were tasked to work with the Friends of Northwood House group, assisting them with the hedge work. After having a cup of tea at around 11:15 we returned to work and the weather deteriorated rapidly from then on. Considering how bad the forecast had been, we had a really good turn-out of GGmers, so once again it is a huge well done to all those who came along. Note to Mark, are you sure you are ticking the correct box when booking the weather for Wednesday mornings?

We are still waiting for someone to come up with the correct answer for the "Spot your GG Chum" quiz that was set last week. The grand prize of TWO extra biscuits is still up for grabs......!

Carrie's Nature Natter.

February can be a very harsh month that often sweeps in with freezing winds and snow, however, there are signs that Spring is on the way with hazel catkins expanding into golden tassels to release their pollen on the wind, delicate and beautiful snowdrops peeping their heads above the cold ground, and early flowering winter aconites with their cheerful yellow flowers that resemble buttercups.  The most obvious leaves to emerge in woodlands are cuckoo pint (also known as lords and ladies), whose leaves push through the leaf litter in curls, but once above the ground they soon open up.  Dogs mercury and violet leaves also start to appear with bluebell leaves and ramsons starting to burst through the leaf litter, while later in the month you may see some early primroses.

This is also the month when our most elegant bird, the heron, starts to get amorous.  Herons nest in groups consisting of 4-20 large nests in tree tops and are used year after year. They perform an unusual dancing courtship, where the male stretches his neck up then lowers it over his back with his bill pointing upwards.  Three to five eggs are usually laid, and these raucous birds are fascinating to watch.

Early spring is an ideal time to check muddy paths and gates, to see what different kinds of wildlife have been out and about, and the type of tracks they leave behind.  The fox has a straight purposeful track with a neat narrow print, and four toes curved in a diamond above a small triangular palm. The badger has five toes above a large kidney-shaped pad, with claw marks often visible usually on a regular path.  If you find a print which has four toes on the forefoot, and five on the hind then what you have found is a squirrel, while a print with no pad but four toes blurred with fur in an egg shape and long slipper like feet, means you have found a rabbit.

Frogs and toads emerge from their winter hiding places, and may use the same ponds to breed.  It is easy to distinguish between them as the toad is larger than the frog, and prefers to walk rather than hop.  The frog has a pointed snout and a yellowish brown smooth moist skin with variable spots and a brown spot behind the eye.  Toads have bulges on the back of their heads called parotoid glands, with drier warty skin coloured brown or greenish grey.  The image below shows a Bufo Bufo or common toad.


Many thanks to Carrie for the Nature Natter.


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