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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 25, 2015

Wed 25th Feb 2015 - Sandpit Copse, Wootton.

We should have expected something different for our GG session this week when we received an email from Mark asking us to bring along PAINT SCRAPERS...! When we visited this site around a month ago we undertook our traditional task of "slash and burn", so why would we need a decorating tool this time? Once we had all assembled at the black hut and given a brief by one of the two PTES wardens in attendance and all became very clear..... we were doing a "Changing Rooms" makeover on dormouse nesting boxes. With some 600 nesting boxes sited around the adjacent woodlands, it was going to be some task to locate them all then clean them all out ready for the dormice to use in the coming breeding season. It was explained that the the Island is something of a Hot Spot for dormice. They like our woodland here because of the ground level growth, which is mainly brought about by our not having any deer roaming around to eat it.
Due to the widespread nature of the work, it was decided that the traditional 11am tea break was to be abandoned, with tea to be served at the end of the session (panic set in with some at this suggestion..!). So, equipped with our new found knowledge, a map of the woods  and the previously mentioned paint scrapers, we were split into teams and set to work. Even with the reasonably detailed maps it is quite difficult to locate so many small boxes in acres of woodland but Team GG are always up for a challenge...! Each box is has a unique reference number so we were soon scouring our designated areas to locate each and every one, give it a spring clean and repair or replace damaged ones before crossing it off the list and moving on to the next. We certainly covered some ground during the session but who could complain when walking through some of the most wonderful wooded areas here on the Island?
Come the end of the session, everyone met up back at the Black Hut for a well earned cup of tea and a biscuit. Initial indications show that we managed to complete work on around two thirds of the total number of boxes - so 400 boxes in three hours - amazing...!

Please use this link for further details - Briddlesford Woods - Peoples Trust for Endangered Species

Carrie's Nature Natter.





Two finds this week, the first being some wood mice, found in one of the dormouse boxes we were clearing out, and the second picture shows one mouse making his way out of the box by climbing over the others.  This species, also known as the Long Tailed Field Mouse, is Britain's most common rodent and found in many different habitats including woodland and farmland, although it tends to avoid very wet areas and exposed uplands.

It has dark brown upper fur, grey or white underside, large eyes (it is mostly nocturnal) and large ears.  It eats a wide variety of food including berries, seeds, nuts, fungi, buds, caterpillars and other invertebrates, depending on the season and what is available at the time.  Population levels are found to rise and fall depending on how much food is available to them in the autumn, and a good year for acorns means greater numbers of adult mice will survive through to the next summer, although most woodmice live for less than 12 months, usually succumbing to predation.

They often have complicated burrow systems beneath tree roots, with food storage chambers and nest chambers.  However, their nests are sometimes built above ground in places like hollow tree trunks or holes in old buildings, usually made with moss, leaves and grasses.  During the spring, each female finds her own territory, and up to six litters of young numbering 4-7 are normally born between March and October.

You can tell if woodmice inhabit an area by looking for evidence of their eating habits, as although lots of other animals eat hazels, the woodmouse has a characteristic way of getting the nut out of the shell.  It gnaws a roughly circular hole in the shell, but characteristically its teeth marks all point downwards, unlike those of the dormouse which radiate outwards from the centre of the shell.



Our second find was the empty nest of a dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) – these are one of Britain’s most endangered mammals due to much of their habitat of deciduous woodland and hedgerows being lost.  This small attractive woodland rodent is mainly nocturnal and arboreal, spending its active time in shrubs and trees searching for food.  Its diet consists mainly of fruit, berries, flowers and insects, while autumn hazelnuts can be a very important food source, as they have to build up their fat reserves to hibernate over the winter.  They hibernate on the ground rolled tightly into a ball in a nest of leaves and grass, lowering both body temperature and heart rate to become torpid and cold to the touch.  This “shutting down” during cold weather enables them to survive, although they can also do this in spring or summer, having long periods of inactivity which probably contributes to their long five year life span.

They breed once or twice a year usually producing four young which become independent in about two months.  Nests are often built of grass interwoven with honeysuckle and can be anywhere from a few feet above ground in brambles to high in the forest canopy.

Many thanks to Carrie for her Nature Natter this week.

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