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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wed 23rd April 2014 - River Yar and Norton Spit, Yarmouth.

Sue's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

The recent GG love affair with West Wight continued with this week's session. Our task was to do a huge litter-pick along the river bank of the Eastern Yar from the Yacht Club to the Old Mill and then over the other side of the main road on Norton Spit. With our leader, Mark, away this week.... we failed  to book the good weather we usually have, instead we had drizzle turning to more persistent rain by time we had finished. The photographs above show just how wide we roamed with the litter pickers and black bin bags in hand. They also depict just how many bags of rubbish we managed to collect....!!!

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

We were indundated with finds for this week's nature lesson, the first of which was Sea Spinach (Tetragonia Tetragonioides) a leafy ground cover plant also known as New Zealand spinach.  It prefers a moist environment forming a thick carpet on the ground or climbs through other vegetation to hang downwards.  Its leaves are triangular and bright green while its flowers are yellow and the fruit a small hard pod covered with small horns. It grows well in saline ground, being used as a food or ornamental plant for ground cover. It has similar flavour and texture properties to spinach, and is cooked the same way.

Our second find was Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) a highly aromatic and flavorful herb with culinary and medicinal uses and, along with the similar-tasting anise, is one of the primary ingredients of absinthe. It is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the mouse moth and the anise swallowtail, and its name is from Middle English fenel or fenyl.  It is erect, glaucous green, grows to heights of up to 2.5 m, with hollow stems, and its finely dissected leaves have threadlike segments about 0.5 mm wide. It has become naturalised along roadsides, in pastures, and in other open sites in many regions including northern Europe, the United States, southern Canada and in much of Asia and Australia.

Our final find is the caterpillar of the brown tailed moth - kindly identified by Dr Colin Pope, County Ecologist - whose cocoons are spun in leaves and can house several hundred caterpillars, feeding on bramble, blackthorn and other deciduous trees.  They are found in considerable numbers throughout the South East of England and in many areas are regarded as a pest.  They are dark brown in colour with a distinct white broken line down each side, with the body covered in tufts of brown hairs with two distinct orange/red dots on the back towards the tail end of the caterpillar. They have up to up to two million spikes and barbed hairs that can penetrate the skin causing an irritation and skin rash, so you are advised to avoid touching them.

Many thanks to Sue and Carrie for the (numerous!) photographs this week and to Carrie for the excellent Nature Lesson.

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