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Sunday 27 June 2010

Wed 23rd June 2010 - Merstone Station.

We returned this week to Merstone station, to complete the tasks we began a few weeks ago. It was a gloriously sunny day with, as usual, an excellent turnout of volunteers. There was some clearance work around the station platform to remove some of the nettles, and the surround for the information board and the wooden side of the Merstone sign had a good coat of teak oil. The tail of the squirrel has been missing for some time, and someone dropped it off for us to try and reattach it. It had a nice coat of teak oil, but needs to be taken away to have a new hole drilled as the original has a hairline crack; we hope to put it back soon. Our big task was to complete the reconstruction of the maze by cutting into strips and putting down some membrane, re-using the old chalk as the base and then putting the nice new white chalk on the top; the edges were also trimmed of excess vegetation. It was suggested that an aerial photograph would be really nice if someone could stand on top of Mark and Jan’s Land Rover. I said what idiot would do that! Well it turned out to be me - but the picture has come out well.

Many thanks to Carrie for the text and pictures this week. She will soon need a stunt double to take the photographs.......!!!

Monday 21 June 2010

Wed 9th June 2010 - St Helens Duver

As usual we had an excellent turnout and David, the National Trust Warden told us the areas that were the target of today's 'beach clean' and the task began equipped with litter pickers and black sacks.

By Break time the main Duver area had been covered and sacks of rubbish piled up although there was not as much as we would have expected.

After the break the main party concentrated on the National Trust beach and had a very pleasant stroll along the beach picking up rubbish as they went.

Most had been completed by 12.30 and a very appreciative David loaded his truck with the spoils and took it round to the agreed place for the pick-up by Island Waste later.

A small party then retired to the Baywatch Café for well deserved sustenance!

Many thanks to Colin (and June?) for the text and photographs this week.

Wed 2nd June 2010 - Firestone Copse, Havenstreet.

We had the usual excellent turnout and a beautiful warm bright day, a lovely venue and guess what, the usual pile of Limestone chippings to be laid to reinforce a path!

One task was laying some pipes to form a couple of small culverts in dips in the path and then covering them with some of the chippings hopefully to secure them against the winter floods. Then the path needed reinforcing in several places where it was muddy and the ditches were cleared of obstructions to help water flow and reduce the risk of flooding the path.

Another task was cutting small fir trees growing as secondary growth, as they were never going to grow properly and would hinder the main growth.

The tasks were successfully carried out and everyone enjoyed a lovely morning in a lovely setting.

Many thanks to Colin for the text this week.

Friday 18 June 2010

Wed 16th June 2010 - Afton Nature Reserve, Freshwater.

Our venue this week was Afton Nature Reserve in Freshwater, helping the rangers Nick and Richard with a variety of tasks. Again an excellent turnout on a beautiful warm and sunny day, it was a pleasure to be outside! The main task involved the use of wheelbarrows (as it generally does when the rangers are involved), and spreading five tons of limestone chippings in two separate areas to improve the access for users of the footpaths. Our next job was to cut back some areas which had overhanging trees and bushes; and finally cutting back the vegetation by one metre on the blind bend down Blackbridge Road, which is impeding visibility for road users, and clearing vegetation from the weir under the bridge to improve the water flow.

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

Lots of finds this week - the first is White Butterbur (genus Petasites) which are robust plants with thick creeping underground rhizomes and large rhubarb-like leaves during the growing season. Another name for many species of this genus is Sweet Coltsfoot. The short spikes of flowers are produced just before the leaves in spring, which are usually green, flesh coloured or dull white, depending on species. They are found in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, and prefer moist environments such as riverbanks, marshes and ditches.

Next was a heart and dart moth (Agrotis exclamationis), which is common in gardens and flies from late May to July. The brownish forewings each have a distinctive black dart-shaped marking and a rough heart-shaped one (see picture), giving the moth its name. The caterpillars appear from July to October, are smooth reddish brown with a fine dark-edged pale line down the back. Like many other moth larvae, they burrow into the ground to over winter in earthen cocoons then in spring they pupate before emerging as adults to complete their lifecycle.

Our last find was a Speckled Wood butterfly (Pararge aereria), which has brown wings with creamy-yellow spots and one black and white eyespot on the forewing and three on the hind. The undersides are patterned orange, yellow and brown. The species is common in woods, scrub and tall vegetation, and you can often see males perched in pools of sunlight or fluttering upwards in a band of sunshine. Females lay single white eggs and the caterpillars are bright green with faint, darker green and yellow stripes. Adults feed on aphid honeydew and are rarely seen on flowers, except early and late in the year when there are few aphids.

Many thanks to Carrie for the above. She has been on her hols for the last couple of weeks - so that is why there have been no blog pages.