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Thursday, 10 November 2011

Wed 9th Nov 2011 - Afton Marsh, Freshwater.

Team GG were back in West Wight this week and at a site we have visited many times in the past, the wonderful wetland walk at Afton. Past experience has shown that wellies are the preferred footwear for this venue and that was certainly the case this week! The group split into three working parties, the first tackling a ditching and hedge cutting job and the other two groups working on cutting / stacking trees and undergrowth. As we were working with the ranger, it wasn't long before we had a fire going and much of the bramble etc was soon reduced to organic ashes. The larger pieces were stacked neatly to form habitat piles for the local wildlife to enjoy. Once again the weather held good for us, the low cloud at the start of the session soon lifted to allow the sun to show through. With mid day temperatures around 15/16 C who would think it is almost mid November.....?

Carrie's Nature Lesson

This week's find was a beautiful Fly Agaric (Latin Name Amanita Muscaria), which is often found in pine woodlands, and also around the base of birch trees. It is found throughout the UK from September to November, and has a cap which measures up to 25cms across. It has tiny, hair-like roots which attach to tree roots, and in this way the toadstool can siphon off some of the nutrients from the tree, although this does not seem to damage the tree in any way. The caps are round when young and become flat as they nature, the white spots drop off with age. The fly agaric is poisonous and is known to cause hallucinations, violent stomach upsets, uncontrollable muscle spasms and could be fatal. It has been used as a fly killer - hence the name - where small pieces of the fungi were added to saucers of milk and when the flies came to feed they died.

Did you know? that the toadstool did not get its name from being a piece of amphibian furniture, but is from 'toad-stuhl' a German name, which means seat of death.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs and nature lesson.

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