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Friday, 14 September 2012

Wed 12th Sept 2012 - Medina Valley Centre, Newport.

With the Medina Valley Centre being so close to the Newport / Cowes cycle track some of the GG team arrived on cycles or on foot for this week's session. Our first task was to clear a somewhat neglected area to the western boundary of the site - this is in preparation for the planting of a hedge which will be carried out when we return later this year. The area that had been pre-cut was raked up and the overgrown hedge and trees cut back to the original railway wire and post fencing. The material that was cut away was used as dead hedging - hopefully this will protect the new hedge once it has been planted. An area around a small pond was cut back to encourage birds and red squirrels.

Our tea break was taken at the recently commissioned seating area down by the Medina and we were treated to freshly made tea, coffee, squash and some delicious banana cake.....many thanks..!

After the break the team split into two groups, one finishing up the work started earlier and the other working at the field site, a little further north along the river bank. They were involved in clearing the access path and topping up the layer of wood chippings to keep the path dry in the winter months ahead.

Carrie's Nature Lesson

This week's find was a beautiful comma butterfly (Polyonia c-album) which was sunning itself on one of the hedges round the Medina Centre.  It is one of the most attractive species to visit our gardens in the summer, and is particularly appealing for its shape and colour.  When the comma spreads its wings to bask in the sun it reveals a beautiful combination of orange and brown markings a little reminiscent of the fritillary butterfly family. Look carefully at its wings and you will see that not only is it colourful but it also has an intricate outline.
It isn't immediately obvious why this butterfly should have evolved such a sculpted shape but when its wings are closed all is revealed. The dark brown of it's underwing combined with this unusual shape helps the comma appear nothing more than a dead leaf; a fantastic piece of deception and camouflage.  Look closely at its underwing and you will see the comma-shaped white mark in the centre of its hind wing which is the reason for its common name.  They will come to gardens to feed on nectar-rich plants such as buddleia and verbena.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs.

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