Total Page-views

Blog Archive

IoW GG links

To look at the Isle of Wight Green Gym web page (contains details of sessions etc) please use the following link :-

The link to Twitter is

If you would like to leave us any comments then please use this link

Friday 20 August 2010

Wed 18th Aug 2010 - Alverstone Mead.

Following last week’s cancellation of the hay baling, the weather gods were much kinder during this week’s visit to Alverstone Mead, and we managed to bale all of the section of Skinners Meadow that had been cut using the very smart new multi-purpose tractor. This was partially funded through the Sustainable Development Fund run by the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit (AONB), which is intended for small community projects of all kinds that benefit the work of the AONB Partnership. Rolling the bales was a risky process this week, as we had to steer clear of a substantial wasp’s nest which John (the Warden of the Mead) found in the middle of the field - he very kindly put a small fence round it and a flag, so none of us managed to get stung. Having finished the baling, we cleared the boundary of the field edges of bracken and pitchforked the bracken cut last week into piles for burning.

Terry's Photo Shop.

Many Thanks to Carrie, Eddie & Terry for this weeks content.

Friday 13 August 2010

Wed 11th Aug 2010 - Alvestone Mead.

Our visit to Alverstone Mead to do some hay baling was changed, due to the large amount of rain that fell on the Island the day before, so it was too wet. The replacements tasks were to clear a large amount of bracken in the hay field and rake it into piles; the second task was to clear some of the fields from the dreaded ragwort, especially as they are regularly grazed by cattle. The Mead is on the old floodplain of the Eastern Yar River, and the unimproved grassland supports marsh violet, devil’s-bit scabious, tormentil, marsh bird’s-foot trefoil and marsh pennywort. Overwintering birds such as water rail, green sandpiper, common snipe, redshank, grey heron and yellow wagtail use the pasture; and the ditches are home to water voles, palmate newts, frogs, toads and twelve species of dragonfly. There is also an area of ancient woodland which contains dormice, red squirrels and three species of bat.

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

Obviously clearing ragwort, we found some caterpillars of the cinnabar moth, with their bright orange body and black transverse bands. The bright colours of both larvae and moths act as a warning sign, so they are seldom eaten by predators. Females lay up to 300 eggs, usually in clusters of 30 to 60, and initially the larvae are pale yellow in colour. They are ravenous feeders sometimes growing up to 30mm, and can strip entire patches of ragwort clean. Very few often survive to the pupae stage, mainly due to consuming the food source prior to reaching maturity; this could be a possible explanation for their tendency to engage in random cannibalistic behaviour, as many will die from starvation. Our second find was Tufted Vetch (Vicia Cracca) - similar to a pea in growth habitat, it has cascading pea-flower shaped purple to violet flowers during its late spring to late summer flowering period. Near August, the flowers drop off and tiny bright green seed pods start to form, the tiny seeds within being ripe when the pods have turned black. It is widely used as a forage crop for cattle, and is also much appreciated by bees and butterflies as a source of nectar.

This week we also had a “Mystery Object” (see image); research has revealed it is one of six sculptures made from Portland stone by local artist Paul Mason for the Yar River Trail in 2001.

Many thanks to Carrie & Terry for the text and pics.

Thursday 5 August 2010

Wed 4th Aug 2010 - Watershoot Bay, St Catherine's Point.

This week we were on the Island’s Heritage Coast in Watershoot Bay, which is on the southernmost point of the Island between Rocken End and St Catherine’s Point. Our job was to clear the beach of any rubbish and detritus which had either been left there by users of the beach, or washed ashore on the incoming tide. We worked together in pairs, one collecting the rubbish and one making notes on what we found. The information we collect goes to the Marine Conservation Society to support their Beachwatch campaign, which is now in its 18th year of helping to raise awareness of marine pollution, and provides vital information on the need to tackle marine pollution at source. There are two pieces of litter for every footstep you take on a beach, also marine wildlife gets entangled in litter and accidentally ingests it. Turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, and the bags can block their stomachs often leading to death from starvation. Seabirds mistake floating plastic litter for food, and over 90% of fulmars found dead around the North Sea had plastic in their stomachs. Plastic litter on beaches has increased 121% since 1994 and never biodegrades, it just breaks down into small pieces, but does not disappear. Interestingly enough, the vast majority of the items we found on the beach were ALL plastic.

Carrie’s Geology Lesson

Something new for the Blog this week, following a wonderful find by Angela of a large fossil (see picture). I sent the image to Trevor Price at Dinosaur Isle, and he kindly provided some fascinating information as follows:-

It is certainly a large ammonite, and the rock is part of the Upper Greensand which places its age at about 100 million years - the transition time from the Lower to Upper Cretaceous. This time marks a period when the northern end of the Atlantic Ocean was beginning to open, the sea-floor was being pushed up by upwelling magma and the water pushed out over the nearby low continental plains of Europe and Northern America. The Upper Greensand is the first record of the sandy shorelines that formed prior to the deep water chalks, where depths of 350 metres of water were reached over southern England. Once the Atlantic had widened the sea-floor subsided, and water on the continents ran back to leave dry land near the beginning of the Palaeogene some 60 million years ago. Ammonites were large marine animals related to today’s nautilus, octopus, squid and cuttlefish. They went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, but their close relatives the nautiloids survived. The ammonite has a similar shape to a large Mantelliceras or Acanthoceras, but the fossil is so worn it is difficult to make a precise identification. The body fossil for the ammonite has either fallen out some years ago and been destroyed by the sea, or some lucky collector has been able to carry it off, leaving behind the imprint of the outer surface of the shell - it is a very nice find!

Many thanks to Carrie for the text and pictures - and also to Angela for being so observant..!