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 29 October 2010

Wed 27th Oct 2010 - Kitbridge Farm Trust, Newport.

Eddie's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

This week the GG Team were back at one of our most favourite sites - Kitbridge Farm. In spite of forecasted rain there was an amazing turnout of GGmers, including some "visitors" from the North Island! Our task was to dam off a ditch and divert the field runoff water to sequentially top up three ponds. These had been drying out durning the summer months so it is hoped that they will now stay as ponds all the year around. The work was labour intensive but can only be done manually as a mechanical digger may destroy the wildlife that lives in the ponds and surrounding areas. We had only just started work when Mark found a Great Crested Newt (see photograph somewhere below) - it was soon re-housed in a safe place.

When coffee time came around, Mark produced several yummy cream and chocolate cakes - the grand occasion being the 35th anniversary of the Kitbridge Trust. Many thanks Mark....they were delicious....Please can we have the same for each of our visits to you?

Tea break over and it was back to the ditch digging, dam building, pipe laying etc with a short break for when the IWCP photographer arrived to take a few photos. There were several group shots and ones of people working - so keep you eyes peeled for them in future editions of the paper.

The highlight of the day was when the last spade full of clay was removed and the waters flowed along the new drainage channels and into the top pond - a big cheer from all concerned accompanied this event!

Mark’s Nature Lesson

Newts have been recorded on the Kitbridge site since at least the 1860s and in recent years it has emerged after extensive research that the Island Great Crested Newts have developed unique characteristics and differ from their mainland counterparts in a number of subtle ways. The most pronounced difference is that they have a distinct yellow stripe that goes along the whole length of the spine. They even have their own name which is Tritarus Cristatus Vectis.

The Great Crested Newt has only been recorded at two further sites on the Island in recent years. This is due to loss of habitat, agro chemicals and climate change, which have had a devastating effect on the fragile meta populations of this unique species.

Many thanks to Eddie & Carrie for the photographs and to Mark for the Nature lesson (and cakes!)

Saturday 23 October 2010

Wed 20th Oct 2010 - Ventnor Botanical Gardens.

So here we are again at Ventnor Botanic Gardens, on a beautiful sunny day if a bit nippy in the shade. An excellent crowd of Green Gymmers turned up and Trish certainly had a full list of tasks for us to do. First was to continue the clearance work started last time in the hydrangea bed; secondly there was a lot of cutting back of overhanging branches on a good stretch of the coastal path situated at the top of the gardens. Our final task was to clear a back of ferns (leaving these in place) which had become infested with ivy, sycamore and bramble. It was certainly a challenge to keep our footing on the steep bank, but we certainly improved it enormously (see images above), with Trish carting away about six trailers full of stuff.

Many thanks to Carrie for the text and photographs.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Wed 13th Oct 2010 - St Mary's School, Ryde.

I am reliably (?) informed that it was almost 2 years to the day since the GG Team worked at this school. A good turnout of GGmers, on a cool but bright morning, were soon being instructed on the jobs that needed to be tackled this time around. These included clearing out the pond, cut back and tidy the woodland pathways, construct a wooden pathway & make a wood chip pathway to the excellent bio-dome. Majority of the tasks were completed within the timescale and the nature area looked much better after the autumn makeover!

Many thanks to the school staff for allowing us to use their facilities for our tea break and for supplying the excellent biscuits (always welcome!)

This week's photographs were taken by a big thanks to her.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Wed 6th Oct 2010 - Furze Butt Field, Totland.

This week the GG team were working with the Rangers and the task was to clear an overflow pond which had become very overgrown. The first two photographs show before and after shots, taken from the same position, this will give some idea of just how big a task it was! This shows just one end of the pond, a similar amount of work was carried out at the far side. We split into 3 basic teams, two working at cutting down the trees (waders needed!) and dragging them out, the other team lopping off the branches and stacking the timber for reuse, bonfires or logs.
The weather forecast gave rain up until 9 am in the morning - and for once they got it spot on. An excellent turnout of GGmers enjoyed some pleasant October sunshine even if a few did go home wetter than when they arrived!

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

No sooner had we finished work this week when several dragonflies, including a stunning Emperor Dragonfly, decided to investigate the (now visible) pond. I managed to take a photograph of two mating Ruddy Darters (Sympetrum striolatum) (see image). Dragonflies belong to the insect order known as Odonata, meaning “toothed jaw” - their mouthparts are serrated. They differ from damselflies in that they hold their wings out from their body while damselflies hold theirs along the length of their abdomen. Ruddy Darters can be distinguished from the Common and Vagrant Darters because they are the only ones which have all black legs. The head, thorax and abdomen of the male are a vivid red, while the female is slightly smaller and a golden yellow colour with black markings. They can be found between the months of July and November, with mating taking place on the wing. The coupled pair perform a dipping flight over the water, and while the female jettisons the fertilised eggs at the water surface, the male hovers nearby to protect the female by driving off any approaching males. The larvae spend the year beneath the water surface, before emerging and pupating into adults. They are found in temperate regions throughout Europe as far west as Siberia and as far south as the northern Sahara, and numbers seem to be increasing in some locations such as central England. It tends to prefer quiet bodies of water that feature semi-aquatic vegetation such as rushes and reeds.

There are many legends and myths about dragonflies and damselflies, many being evident from their common nicknames. In the U.K. dragonflies were called ‘Horse Stingers’ and this name may come from the way a captured dragonfly curls its abdomen as if in an attempt to sting. An old name for damselflies was ‘Devil’s Darning Needles’, stemming from an old myth that if you went to sleep by a stream on a summer’s day, damselflies would use their long, thin bodies to sew your eyelids shut!

Many thanks to Carrie for her nature lesson and the photographs.

Friday 1 October 2010

Wed 29th Sept 2010 - Yafford.

Mark's Pics.

Carrie's Pics.

This week the GG Team were out in the depths of Yafford. To give you some idea of how grown in the pond was when we started, the first people on site were struggling to even find it in the undergrowth! Considering the weatherman had forecasted a downpour, we had an excellent turnout and was rewarded with the rain almost holding off until 1pm. The team were soon slashing into the brambles and undergrowth as others donned the thigh-waders and started clearing the reeds and weed. Care was taken to ensure that any wildlife was safely rehoused nearby. By the time we all came to leave, the pond was fully opened up to the road with pathways cut through the surrounding areas. A big "well done" to all those who helped out!

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

Two finds this week, the first being Water Mint (Mentha Aquatica) - like other members of the large mint family, water mint has strongly aromatic leaves which may be used for culinary purposes. The round terminal head of pinkish flowers is quite distinctive. There may be whorls below the main flowerhead, and the hairy leaves are purplish-green, toothed and in pairs. It is a very useful plant for pond margins and bog gardens, where it will add a splash of colour and a whiff of scent, as well as attracting butteflies. Small tortoiseshells and peacocks especially seem to be attracted to this plant, and it is also the food plant of the attractive green tortoise beetle.

Our second find was a Giant Puffball (Calvatia Gigantea), which reaches a foot or more in diameter and is difficult to mistake for any other fungus; when mature a large specimen will produce a huge number of spores. If collected before the spores have formed, while the flesh is still white, it may be cooked as slices fried in butter, with a strong earthy, mushroom flavour. However, it does not store well in the freezer, and the entire freezer rapidly acquires a strong mushroom smell!