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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 :-

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Wednesday 30 July 2008

Wed 30th July 2008 - Alverstone Nature Reserve

Picture the scene - an English meadow on a hot summer's day, a hay wagon pulled by a team of heavy horses, numerous land workers making hay sheaves and then loading them on the wagon.... Well - that almost describes what Green Gym was all about this week...! The meadow, sun, hay and workers were all there but the wagon and horses were replaced by a modern hay bailing machine driven by an 8hp Honda engine. The field had been cut, so we were collecting the hay into piles, feeding them into the bailer which turns them out in nicely bound "drums". These can then be rolled down the field and stacked all ready for collection. The wonderful weather (and school holidays) meant that we had an excellent turnout of around 25 GGymers, all eager to show their expertise with a rake and pitchfork.
Carrie was our photographer this many thanks to her. The photograph of the red squirrel was taken in the hide and was included because "it is so cute".....(quote from Carrie..!)

Thursday 24 July 2008

Wed 23rd July 2008 - Cowes County Primary School.

Our third visit to Cowes County Primary this year, saw us presented with a variety of tasks. The woodland area with the willow dome needed further clearing cutting back and weeding; the area round the edges ofthe fence under the horse chestnut tree needed the grass removing; footpaths also required weeding and an area which will become part of the school under the new education proposals needed overhanging tree branches removed and ground clearing for a vegetable patch.

This week's nature lesson is about 'King Alfred's cakes (see picture) also known as cramp balls and coal fungus (real name DaldiniaConcentrica). These are found on the dead branches of deciduous trees, particularly ash, but can also occur on beech and alder. Legend has it that King Alfred when hiding form the Danes once burnt some cakes and these fungal growths which look as if they have been burned, are a reminder of his poor cooking, hence the name. The black variety can be very useful for lighting fires, because the inner flesh once dried can be lit, then it burns slowly like barbeque briquettes".
Many thanks to Carrie for the editorial and the photographs this week. It sounds as though it was about the hottest GG day we have had this year....!

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Wed 16th July 2008 - Brading Downs.

This week team GG were back on the downs - pulling the dreaded ragwort. The weather was a vast improvement over last week's downpours, this time it was sunny skies and a gentle breeze....nice..! Although ragwort pulling is not one of the best jobs we do, being up on the downs does have it's benefits - just look at the above pictures for the stunning views and a nice picture of the cinnabar moth (that just happens to lay it's eggs on the ragwort). It is interesting to note that the cinnabar caterpillars eat the ragwort and have been used as a way of controlling the weed. See the link below for further details.

Many thanks to Hilary for taking the photographs this week.

Info from Carrie.....

Apparently it is not a cinnabar moth, it is a Six-spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae). This is the commonest of Britain’s day-flying Burnet moths, and is found throughout Britain with a coastal bias in the North. It occupies meadows, woodland clearings and sea-cliffs, flying from June to August. The larvae feed mainly on bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). It does have similar colouring (red and black) to the cinnabar moth, so it can be easy to confuse the two.

Many thanks to her for this week's nature lesson....!

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Wed 09th July 2008 - St Helens Duver.

This week the Green Gym were at St Helens Duver with our black bags and litter pickers. This is the first time we have worked with the National Trust on an initiative funded by the Council for the Protection of Rural England. Our personal sunny weather angel was obviously on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean, as we had constant rain all morning. Despite this the intrepid Green Gymmers still turned up, with about twenty of us including our helpers from St Georges. The litter was a real mix of items such as plastic bottles, glass, metal, small pieces of plastic (such as bottle tops), fishing line, choc bar wrappers, socks (yes socks!!), and the ever present bags of dog poo thrown into the bushes (you can put in as many dog bins as you like, but you can never make people use them!!). Needless to say by the time we were packing up the rain had stopped - its ragwort pulling again next week so let’s hope at least it stays dry.
Many thanks to Carrie for the pictures and the editorial this week. Bob the Blog was waterlogged before even getting to the GG - and that was just walking the dog...! I think that the determined souls that turned up deserve a BIG WELL DONE.
NEWSFLASH...... Have a look at the County Press - Friday 11th July 2008 - page 12. There is a nice group shot of the GGymers pulling ragwort on the downs with a description of the work that we were doing.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Wed 02 July 2008 - Brading Downs.

This week our task is one that we are very familiar with, pulling ragwort up on the downs. We have been back to this same site now for several years and at long last we seem to be making some headway on keeping it under control. Although it is backbreaking work, we had an excellent turnout which allowed us to collect a very large trailer full of this pesky weed. The wonderful views from the top of the downs makes the job a little more enjoyable. The new specialized tools for lifting the plant roots work very well and speed up the task considerably. I have often mentioned on this blog how lucky the GG is with the weather on Wednesday but this week we were caught out by the odd shower. The weather held good until around 12:15 then the Wimbledon weather took over and the rain came down.....! Oh well - we will book the good weather again for next week. The County Press reporter came to visit us - so keep your eyes peeled for the odd GG shot in the local paper.
Many thanks to Carrie for the pics above and the "nature lesson" below. Both the moth and the cricket were spotted during the GG session which goes to prove - Every (GG) day is a school day!

Elephant Hawk Moth (Deilephila elpenor) - so called from the caterpillar’s fanciful resemblance to an elephant’s trunk. Adults are attractively coloured pink and green and fly from May to July, visiting flowers such as honeysuckle for nectar. The larvae feed mainly on rosebay willowherb, but also other plants including bedstraw. It is a common species in most of Britain, where it has increased its range in recent years.

Great Green Bush-Cricket (Tettigonia viridissima) - a striking and beautiful insect, one of the largest in northern Europe at 40-54mm long. It has a loud and far-carrying song so loud it can be heard from a moving vehicle, which is sung by the males in late summer from the afternoon and well into the night. It is generally found in shrubby areas with rough untouched herbage, with plenty of thistles, brambles and other coarse plants, but always in a warm, generally south-facing situation. It lays its eggs in areas of dry, light soil or short turf, and bright green and green-eyed nymph emerge in May and June, undergoing seven or eight stages before reaching adulthood in late July. It feeds on a wide variety of herbage but also other insects, and is confined to the warm southern counties of England.