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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 :-

The link to Twitter is

If you would like to leave us any comments then please use this link

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Wed 26th March 2014 - Yarmouth Green.

The trip out to West Wight for GG took longer than normal due to the top road being closed at Bouldner for roadworks, thereby necessitating a lengthy de-tour. Having had the last couple of Wednesday mornings with nice sunny weather, it was back to normal for our session this week - at least three layers of warm clothing and a woolly hat! With a sharp NE wind blowing from across the harbour, everyone was eager to start work so they could warm up. Two main tasks were allocated for our attention, planting numerous native tree and shrub cuttings along the hedge line and clearing up storm damaged trees (plus the usual, but equally important, litter pick and general tidy-up). It was decided that the bramble stripping from the established hedging should be put on hold as it is starting to get close to the bird nesting season. Perhaps not quite as many GGmers this week but the ones that did attend completed all the allocated tasks and the Green was looking shipshape by the end of the session.

Thank you to  Mark for taking the photographs this week.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Wed 19th March 2014 - Castle Copse, East Cowes.

Mark's Photos.

Carrie's Photos.

It was off to the "green oasis" of Castle Copse for our GG session this week. Right in the middle of all the East Cowes new development is this tranquil area for the locals and wildlife to appreciate. It is was almost a whole year since we worked at this venue and the first thing that we all noticed was the improved fencing on the roadside approach. The high wooden fence has now been replaced with a much lower version, allowing you to see the woodland beyond, enticing you in.
Our main tasks for this visit were to plant a new hedge just behind the wooden fence, planting Clematis (clematis vitalba  - also known as Traveller's Joy or Old Man's Beard) at various places in the woods and clearing the trees that had been felled by contractors. The material from the felled trees were used to build dead hedges around the site which will help to segment the various areas whist providing cover for birds and animals. With plenty of GGmers in attendance and the bonus of dry weather, excellent progress was made with the jobs. We look forward to returning at a later date to see how the hedging matures, perhaps we could do a hedge laying job on it one day?

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

This beautiful slow worm was found by Martin when working at Castle Copse this week.  These are small lizards which have lost their limbs completely, and are often mistaken for snakes.  They typically grow to between 40 and 50 cm, with the males being slightly smaller than the females, with their tails making up about half their total length, and are distinguished from snakes by many features such as eyelids, small ear openings, neither of which snakes have, and their tongues are notched in the centre rather than completely forked like a snake's.

They are typically grey-brown with males displaying electric blue spots, particularly in the mating season, while females have a coppery sheen and two lateral black stripes, producing live young which are about 1.6” long and generally having golden stripes.  Their grooved teeth allow them to grab and swallow whole their soft invertebrate prey, such as slugs, hairless caterpillars and earthworms, but usually avoid snails unless they are very young when the shell can be easily broken.  Their range is across most of Europe and into parts of Asia, but are restricted to temperate and humid habitats.  Their hibernation period is from October to February/March either alone or with other slow worms, and they are a protected species in the United Kingdom.

Many thanks to Carrie and Mark for the photographs and to Carrie for theNature Lesson this week.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Wed 12th March 2014 - ‘Bee Fields’ Martin’s Wood, Newchurch.

Time to stop and have a cup of tea!

The above photograph shows one of the holes where the bees have been "mining".

It was back to the Bee Fields this week so we could continue the work we have done here during previous GG sessions. The walk from the car park to the work area was particularly nice due to all the daffodils being in full bloom. Our main tasks were to continue making the "scrapes" in the grassy areas thereby encouraging the ground burrowing bees to take up residence.  There are some 96 species of bee and wasp of which 23 are nationally rare and 3 are even completely new to the Island....! This site ranks amongst the most important bee conservation sites on the Island, alongside heavily protected nature reserves that have a national significance. The Isle of Wight is one of the most important places in the UK for its bees and wasps and so the Bee Fields are now of national interest. Other members of the GG team worked their way through the numerous planted trees, clearing away the rabbit guards that had split due to the trees outgrowing them. 

The weather was warm and sunny which encouraged a particularly large turnout of the GGmers.

Here are a couple of links that are associated with this site..

Many thanks to Mark for the photographs this week.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Wed 5th March 2014 - Munsley Bog, Godshill.

Mark's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

With the ground water table as high as it has been recently, we were wondering if Munsley Blog had perhaps turned into Munsley Ocean. First impressions were good, the area looked much as it had done on previous sessions there but once you ventured off the wooden walkway, care had to be taken to avoid the really boggy areas! More than one GGmer was seen to be struggling with a welly that had been sucked down into the quagmire.
With the sun shining, the workforce were soon spread across the whole site - cutting back the brambles and undergrowth that seem to thrive here. All the cuttings were piled into neat stacks around the perimeter, hopefully providing cover for any birds or animals that may need it. It might be my imagination but each GG session held this year seems to have greater numbers in attendance with this one topping them all! Well done to all those who came along - the whole area looked dramatically improved by the time we left.

Carrie's Nature Natter for March.

March can certainly have some pleasant days, although it can occasionally surprise us with a sudden return to wintry weather, while the forward change of the clocks makes for longer daylight hours and a real change from the darkness of winter.  The month is also known for mad March hares, although these are actually female hares endeavouring to resist the advances of the amorous males.  As arable crops are still quite short they can often be seen feeding, and it is much easier to catch a glimpse of these delightful and charming native creatures.

Among our bird life some summer migrants begin to arrive with the wheatear usually among the first, along with the chiff-chaff singing its repetitive and distinctive song.  While out walking on the downs I have also begun to clearly hear the achingly beautiful soaring song of the skylark, which really lifts the spirits making it feel that spring really is here.  Later in the month more summer migrants arrive, while our resident birds such as song thrushes, blackbirds, greenfinches, great tits and robins are 

already singing their hearts out, as they try to attract a mate and mark out potential breeding territories.

Many woodland species are starting to burst into flower with lesser celandines (see Mark's photo above), wood anemone and sweet violets opening their petals to the gradually warming sunshine, while the damp ground will often be carpeted with the bright shiny green leaves of dog’s mercury and ramsons.   The end of the month sees our hedgerows full of the white blossom of the blackthorn, not to be confused with hawthorn which does not flower until May.  You may also find that sure sign of spring in damp places, the furry catkins of the pussy willow, (which are actually male pollen bearing flowers) sending off their pollen to find the female flowers.

Bats are starting to emerge from hibernation on the hunt for flying insects, and each male frog is trying to ensure the eggs laid by the females are fertilised personally by him, although the adults will 

wait in the pond until the weather gets warmer in April.  The first butterflies of the year also start to emerge, while warmer days will see bumblebees buzzing around and ladybirds beginning to appear from the nooks and crannies that have been their winter homes.

Photographs sent in by Carrie and Mark and Nature Natter written by Carrie.....many thanks!