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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wed 5th Nov 2014 - RSPCA IoW HQ, Bohemia Corner, Godshill.

It is almost a year to the day that we had our first visit to this venue and this time we were to continue the work we started back then. The unusually warm spell of weather had decided to turn a bit cooler, but the sunny periods soon had people taking off their outer "layers". Three main tasks were to be undertaken, clearance of the vegetation and trees around the pond, cutting back in the old orchard area and to give the dog walkers' path a make-over, which included rolling up a considerable length of old fencing. Perhaps it is the chance to make a fuss of the dogs as they have their walks but this does seem to be a popular venue with Team GG. (Then again, it might be the fact that the staff their make sure we are well looked after at tea break - many thanks!). With so many people tackling a wide variety of jobs, excellent progress was made towards all the designated tasks and we look forward to coming back again to continue the good work. Perhaps we will eventually get to work on the island in the middle of the pond...?

Carrie’s Nature Natter.
November - the month of whizzbangs, rockets and bonfires lighting up the night sky.  However, these can be nice cosy hidey-holes, so before lighting up do check it does not contain any sleepy hedgehogs, especially if it has fallen leaves.
The last leaves of deciduous trees are carpeting the ground, the only possible exception being beech, which often hangs on to its coppery hues, and the yellow needles of the larch.  Although it is not one of our native trees it is widely planted, and its bright green spring foliage and red cones make it stand out from the rest; it is also unusual in that it is a conifer that loses its needles in Autumn.  Oaks wait until November to put on their coats of many colours, while the falling acorns rely in grey squirrels and jays to disperse them.

The remaining summer bird migrants are taking their leave, but the bare trees make it easier to spot the residents and winter migrants.  Birds most likely to be seen in gardens, woodlands and fields are flocks of roaming tits and finches, joined by the occasional nuthatch and tree creeper.  The passing years show more reports of blackcaps and even chiffchaffs overwintering, while rooks and crows once out of the towns seem to be everywhere, and magpies and jays are also hard to miss.  This month also sees the start of one of our most spectacular winter highlights - the amassing of huge flocks of starlings.  It is not known quite why this happens, perhaps for protection against the cold or predators, but early evenings at certain sites see thousands get together wheeling round the sky in a dark mass chattering and squawking - certainly an amazing spectacle to watch.

At this time bats enter a state of torpor in their hibernacula, and while this is not full hibernation as they will emerge on warm days, it is a state of reduced metabolism and body temperature.  Only dormice and hedgehogs hibernate, while other mammals, such as badgers, reduce winter activity and put on weight to survive the lean months ahead.

STOP PRESS. When you are glancing through the County Press this week, stop at page 35 where GG gets a mention for the work we did at Birchmore Pond (Wed 24th Sept 2014 - Birchmore Pond, Blackwater). Nice photograph of Steve in the pond! There is also an item about Himalayan Balsam picking, they have now got a punt so can tackle it from the water! Wonder if we can "borrow" it next year..????

Many thanks to Sue for the photographs this week and to Carrie for her Nature Natter.

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