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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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Thursday 25 November 2010

Wed 24th Nov 2010 - One Horse Field, Totland.

Mark's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

One Horse Field, at Totland is a meadow of around two hectares, including semi-improved and herb-rich grassland with mature hedgerows and scrub, and was the venue for this weeks Green Gym. When the nearby housing development was planned at Hurst View, there was a condition that the field should be kept at an open space. Part of the site is designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, adjacent to a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and was part of a larger farm which has grazing history back to the eighteenth century. Over the last few days a large section at the southernend of the site has been mowed by machinery, and our task was to rake the cut grass into piles, put it in large bags, and pile the cuttings onto the hibernaculum (the Latin meaning is ‘”tent for winter quarters" and can refer to the location chosen by an animal for hibernation). Taking the grass away will encourage the growth of wildflowers, and the using the cuttings will be good for slow worms and other invertebrates. A supplementary task was to remove a large sycamore and stack the branches onto the pile with the grass cuttings.
Conservation of the area is important as the soil types, changes in agricultural practice and nature succession, have brought about the current habitats found here. If the dynamic process of natural succession is left unchecked, it will allow the grassland to become scrub-dominated and eventually woodland. It is imperative for the grassland to retain its current interest and enhance its potential, management of the site is undertaken to retain the features of interest. This field is particularly important for biodiversity, because of the proximity of semi-improved grassland to wetland. The situation benefits species such as dragonflies, which need meadows for feeding and ponds for breeding. If unchecked, these open habitats would be lost and in addition, the site will act as a buffer to the proposed geological SSSI on the soft cliff to the west of the meadow.
Many thanks to Carrie & Mark for the text and photographs this week.

Friday 19 November 2010

Wed 17th Nov 2010 - Afton Marsh, Freshwater.

This week’s visit was to Afton Marsh helping out Richard the Ranger. Unfortunately the predicted weather forecast was correct for once, so it was a bit wet and windy, but the usual large hardy group came along suitably togged up in wet suits and wellies to get stuck into the task ahead. There is a circular path around Afton Marsh, the right hand side of which has received grant funding for a programme of improvements. However, the path to the left is extremely muddy, and in one or two places it was waterlogged almost to the top of our welly boots. So our task was to create a new path on the top of a raised ridge, which was made up of spoil taken from other areas of the Marsh some time ago, but which was very overgrown with small trees, bramble and general scrub. So we started at one end and spread out in a long column along the ridge to clear away everything for the space of about three or four feet, to create a new passage to join up with the drier end of the pathway further along. As we got to the end, we found that a VERY large tree over a foot wide had fallen across our route; having picked up our bowsaws Richard the Ranger said “you’re never going to cut that with those are you”? Now - that was definitely throwing out a challenge, so about twelve of us set to sawing, cutting and removing the tree to finish the morning’s task.

A big thanks to Carrie for the text and photographs this week.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Wed 10th Nov 2010 - Adgestone Wetland Walk, Sandown.

We should have taken more notice of the location name for the GG venue this week.....Wetland Walk..!!! We arrived at the picnic area and strolled down to the woodland paths, only to be confronted with a huge lake. Yesterday's downpours had caused the stream to burst it's banks and the whole area was flooded to a depth of around 2 foot or more. Nobody seemed brave enough to see just how deep it was so plan B swung into action. The perimeter of the picnic site had become very overgrown and needed a bit of a trim - thereby opening up the views and letting more sunlight in. One team decided to tackle a particularly large sycamore tree and cries of "Timber" was soon heard...! The timbers were cut down, logged and the branches stripped before being reused to build a new boundary fence. Other teams tackled the brambles and overgrown areas with the offcuts being heaped up to hopefully encourage more wildlife. Bags full of cans and bottles were collected - so the whole area was looking much better by the time we left. The weather was bright and cool but we had a really good turnout of GGmers - well done everyone.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs this week.

Friday 5 November 2010

Wed 3rd Nov 2010 - All Saints Church, Freshwater.

Eddie's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

This week the GG team were working in one of the oldest churchyards on the Island (it was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086). Our task was to assist the church's cemetery warden group in their ongoing task to keep the grounds in good order and where possible, encourage wildlife. The GG team split into three groups, working to clear vegetation from the stone wall shared with the adjacent footpath, clearing the gardens at the base of the church walls and cutting back a very overgrown area down towards the marsh. The weather was unseasonably warm which undoubtedly helped to swell the numbers for a very well attended session! Good progress was made towards completing all the given tasks - please see some of the photographs above which show some "before and after" shots. Many thanks to all who attended and to June & Colin for the excellent cake at tea break (goodness me, cake on two consecutive weeks....!!!)

Carrie’s Nature Lesson.

Growing on some dead elder, this week we found some Jew’s Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae). This fungi grows up to 60mm across, is found throughout the UK all year round on elder and beech trees, and the name comes from the story that Judas Iscariot hung himself from an elder tree. The fungi is pale brown in colour, and really does resemble a human ear in both size, shape and texture; as it gets older it turns black and hard. It is one of the few fungi which have the ability to withstand freezing temperatures. This is a useful attribute, since it develops new growths in January (normally the coldest month of the year in the UK), can actually freeze solid, but when thawed out shows no ill effects. In Chinathey are commercially grown and gathered young, whilst still soft and moist, they make excellent eating; even old Jew’s Ear fungus can be dried and ground for use as a flavouring and thickener for soups and stews. Even young versions of this fungus need long-term cooking, and have to be boiled for 45 minutes or more in stock or milk before being eaten, but the flavour is almost beyond compare, hence their value in Chinese soups.

Many thanks to Carrie & Eddie for the above.