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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wed 6th May 2015 - Parkhurst Forest, Newport.

Mark's Photographs.

The "dreaded" crushed limestone arrives... all 3.5 tonnes of it.

The muddy pathway, before we started work.

Barrow Boys to the rescue!

Thank goodness...nearly at the end of yet another load.

Carrie's Photographs.

Working on the pathway.

The completed path.

Cutting back around the Squirrel Hide.

A cleared area in front of the hide.
Sue's Photographs.

The guardian of the squirrel hide.

Working on the pathway.

A rather grown-in hide....

work in progress...

and, almost completed!

And finally, Team GG with the end of the path and the hide.

Having had a torrential downpour earlier in the morning and winds at the Needles in excess of 70mph, numbers attending this week's GG session might be expected to be less than normal but that was before you take into account the determination of the Team GG...! One by one, the cars arrived in the car park and there was soon a long conga-line heading off up through the forest to the Red Squirrel Hide area. Our task was to resurface the hide approach path with crushed limestone chippings, having first removed the leaves and twigs from the rather muddy original substrate. While half the team set about wheelbarrowing 3.5 tonnes of limestone into position, the remainder gave the hide area a complete make-over. The view of the forest (and the squirrels) had become somewhat obscured by undergrowth, so, it true GG tradition, it was all hands to the lopers and bow saws! Care was taken to ensure that any area we were working in was free of nesting birds or any other wildlife. With the new surface for the path in position, the bordering vegetation trimmed back and the hide vista opened up, it was a remarkable improvement to this wonderful woodland setting (see before and after photographs above). To top it all, the forecasted heavy showers held off so the whole session was accomplished in the dry even if the taller trees were nodding furiously in the high winds!

Carrie’s Nature and History Natter for May.

This is an amazing month to see our spectacular wildlife, with the songs of the summer migrants mingling with our resident bird species, and specialities such as nightingale, cuckoo, swallows and swifts making wildlife watching very exciting.  Warblers fill the hedgerows and woodlands while the birds of our sea cliffs are clamouring and squabbling for their own small space.  In gardens and parks great tits, robins, blackbirds, song thrushes and blue tits are frantically seeking food to satisfy the insatiable appetite of their young.  After one or two broods the blue tits look particularly frazzled.

Many of our trees and hedgerow shrubs are now festooned with bright, fresh, almost iridescent young leaves, with the hawthorn flowers providing beautiful white ribbons crisscrossing the countryside and lining even the most uninspiring roads.  Towards the end of the month the elder also comes into flower with big, odorous saucers of tiny flowers, while young oak leaves start off brown and then turn light green.  The ash is one of the last to break into leaf, with its black hard casings splitting to show the new growth below.
This is the month when insects being to make a big impact, and if you should hear a bang on your window it could be a cockchafer beetle, which appears this month heading towards window and street lights in search of a mate. Its pupae live for two years as plump 'c' shaped larva in the soil, forming an important food source for rooks and crows.

By the middle of the month damselflies and dragonflies start breeding, with some dragonflies so fiercely territorial you can sometimes witness spectacular aerial clashes between one male and another.  They do, however, need to be careful as hobbys, now in Britain, with their lightning fast flight can easily hunt down these impressive insects. Also as their name suggests the important groups of insects known as mayflies start to emerge. They only live in clean fast flowing steams where water crow-foot can be found, and for this reason they are a good biological indicator of a clean environment.

The month of May was named for the Greek goddess Maia, who was the goddess of fertility, while the Romans similar goddess was named Bona Dea, holding a festival for her during the month of May.  They called the month Maius, and while the name changed over the years it was first called May in the 1400s near the end of the Middle Ages.

It is the third and last month of the season of spring, with its birthstone of the emerald symbolising success and love.  It was once considered bad luck to marry in May, with a poem that says "Marry in May and you'll rue the day", while in Old English it is called the  "month of three milkings" referring to a time when the cows could be milked three times a day.

A note from Bob the Blog.

Good Luck to all the GGmers who are doing Walk the Wight on Sunday - the weather is looking dry and warm. For those doing the Flat Walk, I hope to see you there. Remember to bring your sponsor sheets along to next Wednesday's session, I am sure everyone will be VERY generous? 

Many thanks to Sue, Carrie and Mark for taking the photographs and to Carrie for her editorial contribution.

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