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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wed 11th June 2014 - Alverstone to Langbridge, Riverside.

This is how big HB can grow in a few short weeks...!

Our mission this week was to try and rid a section of the Eastern Yar of the dreaded  Himalayan Balsam plant. We have worked here several times before and our efforts are starting to show dividends with far fewer Pesky Plants growing this year. The big problem this time was the height of the stinging nettles that always seem to grow in the same area as the HB, many of them being taller than the GG pullers! A larger than normal Team were soon strung out along the cycle path / river bank working hard to eliminate the enemy. With the sun shining and the weather so warm, it was difficult to stay wrapped up with long sleeved clothing but to revert to anything lighter resulted in very sore arms. The people using the cycle path must have been very amused to see us tunnelling though the nettles to access the HB shouting "OUCH!" every time a stinger got the better of us. Judging by the numerous piles of uprooted stems by the end of the session, we had another successful attack on this unwanted visitor.

If you would like further info on HB then please try this link - Himalayan balsam/RHS Gardening

Carrie's Nature Natter.

Flaming June, and the month containing the longest day of the year.  Our countryside is bursting with trees fully in leaf, although the bright green of spring has now been taken over by a darker, more mellow hue. Hawthorn blossom has faded, but our roadsides are now lit up with the large disks of creamy and pungent flowers of the elder, while our hedgerows abound with wild dog roses, honeysuckle, blackberry flowers, and in acidic soils the first flowering of foxgloves.  Our open grasslands have a wonderful show of ox-eye daisy, yellow bird’s foot trefoil, the small pink flowers of herb robert and elegant pink bindweed.

The breeding season for birds is now in full swing, and they are all busy finding enough food to fill lots of hungry mouths, with young birds relentlessly demanding food from increasingly tired adults, including the dowdy starlings rushing after their more iridescent parents squawking indignantly. On our farmlands you can hear the song of the yellowhammer with its "a-little-bit-of-bread-and no-cheese" song from a hedgerow perch, or the corn bunting proclaiming its territory with a song which sounds like the jangle of a bunch of keys. Goldfinches, linnets and greenfinches are all part of the sounds of June, and can be augmented by summer visitors such as whitethroats and other warblers.

On our sea shores the cliff tops can provide a riot of colour, with the flower bobbles of thrift and sheep’s-bit growing from the tight mats of green leaves.  They grow among vetches and grasses, but thrift is especially good at finding the tiniest ledge to perch on.  Even in the inhospitable environment of the sea shore, salt tolerant plants such as the edible sea beet, white flowered sea campion, yellow horned poppy and sea plantain can be found.

Our chalk and limestone grasslands are among the most precious wildlife assets in Britain, and the enormous diversity of insect and plant species is amazing.  June sees the lesser butterfly orchid, horseshoe vetch, small scabious, fly orchid, cheddar pink, tuberous thistle, betony, clustered bellflower, burnet saxifrage, meadow saxifrage, restharrow and also species such as bird’s foot-trefoil, rockrose, common milkwort, salad burnet, bee orchid, common gentian, marjoram and oxeye daisy. The type of butterfly species found are usually determined by the length of the grass.  If long, then meadow brown and marbled white can be abundant, while the family of blue butterflies can only tolerate short (sometimes very short) tufty grass. 

Many thanks to Carrie for her Nature Natter and photographs.

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