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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wed 20th May - The Duver, St Helens.

Sue's Photographs.

Mark's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

Off to the coast this week for a return to The Duver at St Helens for our 8th year of a large scale litter pick there.  We collect litter each week of course, wherever we are working, but some weeks the site and potential are large enough to devote our whole attention to the subject.  Today 30 of us searched high and low across St Helen's Duver, Priory Bay and Gaggan Edge.    We collected 26 bags plus many assorted larger items of detritus - including the inevitable car tyre.

Intrigued by the unfamiliar Gaggan Edge I searched for more information.  Here are some nuggets of background history I came across...
  • In 1925 Sir Edward and Lady Poulton donated the Common land between Duver Road and the Mill Pond (including Gaggan Edge) to the National Trust. 
  •  In 1961 the Royal Isle of Wight Golf Club presented the Duver Golf Links, which had not been used since before the war, to the National Trust. 
Source: Bembridge & St Helens Harbour Association website

As to the name.  Gaggan Edge was apparently so named because press gangs from nearby ships, who used to lie in wait to gag their victims, did so here.  

Sand dunes on the Isle of Wight are far and few between so we are proud of the National Trust's  dune system here at The Duver in St Helens.  It is home to many species which are specialists in this habitat.  If you would like to know more about exactly which species are there and get involved in finding out then you are in luck as next week's Bioblitz will inform you of just that along with much much more.  A Bioblitz is the recording of all possible identifiable species over a 24 hour period.  Click here for more information from the IW AONB.

If you'd like to go to other coastal Bioblitz (what's the plural for Bioblitz!?) in the UK click here.

Carrie's Nature Natter.

This week’s find was some very pretty thrift or sea-pink (genus Armeria), which is a familiar coastal plant forming compact cushions, and attractive deep pink or occasionally white flowers.  These have five petals occurring in groups at the top of a flower spike (this is called an inflorescence), surrounded by the narrow leaves.  These have just a single vein together with hairs along the edges arising from a visible woody rootstock forming the cushions.  Its name is thought to refer to the leaves, which are tightly packed together and conserve water in the salty air.

It is a perennial species, flowering each year between April and October, and the fragrant flowers are visited by a range of flying insects for nectar and pollen.  An old belief exists that thrift can cure lead poisoning, which is reflected by the family name of Plumbaginaceae.

It is found around all the coasts of Britain, and often planted in gardens, which then escape into the surrounding areas.  It inhabits sea-cliffs, salt marshes, shingle and stone walls near the coast, while inland it can be found up to heights of 1280m on rocky mountain ledges, shingle by rivers, old lead workings and moss-heaths.  It has also been known to occur alongside roads which have been treated by salt.

Many thanks to Sue, Carrie and Mark for the photographs, to Mark for this week's editorial and to Carrie for her Nature Natter. ( many credits this week...!)

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