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IoW GG links

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 28 June 2012

Wed 27th June 2012 - St Helens Duver.

Well it's that time of year again folks when the GG meet up with the National Trust guy at the Duver, collect our litter pickers and black bags and scour both the Duver and the beach for rubbish.  As always most of the stuff we collect is all kinds of plastic, portable barbeques, crisp and sweet packets, rope, string and of course the usual "poo in a bag".  There  were a couple of unusual items on this occasion, two large what looked like sections of scaffold pole one in the woods and one on the beach (see photo) which required several of us to carry them back to the car park, for the man from the National Trust to cut them into manageable pieces for dispoal; and secondly a large lobster pot with a huge length of thick rope and a metal shelf at the bottom, which also required two of us to drag down the beach. Our second task was to pull up copious amounts of ragwort, which is just starting to flower, and collect in bags for disposal.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

This week's find was found by Steve and Tony, and has been identified as Fragrant Evening Primrose (Oenothera Odorata).  This winter annual or biennial is found on roadsides, railway tracks and waste places, especially on light-sandy or gravely soils.  It may also be a weed of meadows, paastures, vineyards, fruit crops and neglected fields, and probably spread to Britain from North America in 19th century.  It was well established on sandhills along the Somerset coast in 1905, having first been recorded there in 1837.  It is fragrant at night and attracts pollinating moths, while its flowers open as a yellow colour then fade to orange.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs and editorial.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Wed 20th June 2012 - Brading Down.

Now let me see..... it is Wednesday morning, the sun is shining, GG are assembled at Brading Down car park and Mark has just turned up with wheelbarrows, forks, long gloves and plastic bags - I wonder what our task will be today? Ah yes....I have got it......Ragwort pulling.....! Once again Team GG take it upon themselves to try and rid the Downs of the dreaded Ragwort plants. This yearly ritual takes place just as the plants have grown enough to be pulled but not so big as to have started going to flower and seed. Particular care has to taken to avoid the sap getting into contact with the skin as when it is exposed to sunlight, it can cause a nasty skin rash - hence the supply of long gloves. To the numerous visitors that call by in the coaches during the session, it must appear that IoW residents must really love gardening as they even go out and "weed" the countryside...!
By the end of the session, the rangers large trailer was approaching being full (see above photograph) so hopefully the beautiful view from the car park won't be blanked by loads of tall, yellow flowered ragwort later this year.
Well done to all those who attended and for sticking at what can be a rather daunting task.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Wed 13th June 2012 - One Horse Field, Totland.

This Wednesday, Team GG were back at a site we have visited many times in the past, One Horse Field in Totland. The recent rain and a little sun (far too little..!) has allowed the bracken to engulf the lower part of this site so our major task was to pull up as much as possible. Others were working on the erection of two new site information boards and the pulling of Ragwort which, like the bracken, is an ongoing task. This week we had what seemed to be a particularly large turnout (the car park was full) and the showery weather was kind to us with the whole session staying dry.

Carrie's Nature Lesson

The recent wet weather has certainly brought out some of our wildlife, as this week's find (by Tony) illustrates. The image shows a banded snail (Cepaea Hortensis) which is found throughout the UK (except north Scotland) and grows up to 20mms tall.  It is active between March and October, the remainder of the year being spent in hibernation, and they feed on most vegetable matter.  They are found in hedgerows, gardens and field edges and the colour of the shell can be very variable, from plain to fully striped.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs and Nature Lesson.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Wed 6th June 2012 - Bouldnor Forest.

This week Team GG were at Bouldnor Forest, which is also home to the Hants & IoW Wildlife Trust here on the Island. Although the weather was down to be wet and windy, the car park was full to overflowing (perhaps everyone was "Jubileed Out"?) Once our hosts for the day had explained the tasks and showed us around the site, we split into two main groups. Team A tackled the "usual" GG jobs of cutting back overgrown areas while team B decided to invent yet another GG Olympic Sport. This time we decided to call it the long distance, uphill, loaded barrow, endurance team relay race...! As with most GG sports, the rules are very simple.... in this case it involved a huge pile of "as dug" (described later), wheel barrows and shovels as available, then muster as many contestants as possible for the event.

The game starts at a pile of "as dug" which consists of well compacted stones, earth and clay. Taking a shovel, the first obstacle is to try and shovel the compacted material into your barrow (pick axes and forks are allowed when attempting to break into the pile). Once loaded, the barrow is pushed as fast as possible towards the tipping area which has to be at the top of a hill and around 200 yards away from the as dug pile. The contents of the barrow are then tipped out and "handed over" to the Finishers who grade the rocks, rake the soil and then compact it down into the rutted track. This relay race is run for as long as there are contestants still standing OR there is no more "as dug" available.

As we worked our way higher up the track, we were soon able to appreciate the wonderful wooded areas and the excellent views down over the foreshore and across the Solent. The rain showers did hold off for the session although it did tip it down in the early afternoon! Well done to all those who attended and good luck to Team GG at London 2012 later this year......

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs this week.

Friday 1 June 2012

Wed 30th May 2012 - Golden Hill Fort, Freshwater.

With Yarmouth cloaked in thick mist on Wednesday morning, it was a pleasant surprise to find the area around Golden Hill Fort all clear. Team GG met up in the car park and were "delighted" (cough!) to see that both the Ranger and Mark had turned up with numerous wheelbarrows in the trailers. Golden Hill and wheelbarrows can mean only one thing - limestone chippings for pathways. Sure enough, we were soon directed to FOUR pre-delivered mountains - totalling some 10 tonnes of chippings in total. We soon divided into three main working parties and set about clearing the chosen pathways of overgrown vegetation before tipping the materials in place, hopefully this will ensure that the numerous walkers that use this area will have less muddy areas to transit during the rainy seasons. With the first three piles all sorted, everyone "attacked" the final one which was cleared in double quick time. Other GG Team members were involved in cutting back overhanging vegetation and litter picking.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

This week we "spotted" a Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), which is the most widespread and common British orchid. It grows in many different habitats including woodland, roadside verges, hedgerows, old quarries, sand dunes and marshes; sometimes so many flowers appear together they carpet an area with their delicate, pale pink spikes. It gets its name from its leaves which are green with abundant purplish oval spots, and form a rosette at ground level before the flower spike appears, while narrower leaves sheath the stem.

The flowers range from white and pale pink through to purple, but have distinctive darker pink spots and stripes on their three-lobed lips. The flowers are densely packed in short, cone-shaped clusters and bloom between June and August; so this one is obviously in flower quite early.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs and Nature Lesson.