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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 28 May 2014

Wed 28th May 2014 - The IoW Donkey Sanctuary, Wroxell.

Although it didn't exactly rain during our GG session this week, the downs above the Donkey Sanctuary were covered in low cloud and the air was rather "damp". Inspection of the river bank showed that our efforts at PPP (Pesky Plant Pulling) last year seem to have been triumphant, with the amounts of Himalayan Balsam being drastically reduced. We were soon working our way along (and sometimes IN...!) the stream trying to eliminate every last HB plant in sight. As the areas we cleared last year needed less attention, we were able to explore further both up and down stream, removing any clumps of HB as we went. Wading through waist high, wet stinging nettles to pull up PP may not be everyones idea of fun but seeing how successful our previous efforts had been was certainly an incentive to carry on. Mind you, had the weather been as hot and sunny as it was on our last visit there (last July) then I doubt that anyone would have complained about sunburn...!

For our readers who are not familiar with this PP called Himalayan Balsam, have a look at this link....
Himalayan balsam/RHS Gardening.

Photographs supplied by Carrie, many thanks!

Monday 26 May 2014

Stop Press....!

Once again we find fame with a mention in the County Press. There is a nice piece about the 10th Anniversary trees we planted at Pan Mills Meadow - on the back page of the CP Weekender, dated May 23rd 2014. Look at the bottom of Richard Wright's Gardening Page - it is titled " Poplar gift to the Island on group's birthday".

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Wed 21st May 2014 - Mill Copse, Yarmouth.

Mark's Photographs.
The views as you walk to the copse.

Some of the jobs tackled.

A rare sight...Kev at work..!!!!

And the reward..... a cuppa!

Carrie's Photographs.

Which ever place you decide to park for our Mill Copse sessions, it is always an interesting walk from the car to the woods. Although it was somewhat cloudy, the weather was warm enough for some of the GGmers to go into summer dress code - shorts! The rangers had already started work by the time we arrived so, after a quick brief as to what the tasks involved, we were soon spread across the site to tackle a wide variety of tasks. The jobs included repairs to the hide, painting information boards, installing a new bench seat, fencing, trimming and piling pre-felled trees plus the day to day work needed to keep this woodland area well managed.  Phew, what a busy bunch we were!

Many thanks to Carrie and Mark for the photographs.

Thursday 15 May 2014

Wed 14th May 2014 - Millennium Green, Ryde.

Mark's Photographs.

Tony's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

Carrie's Notes.

Millennium Green was our venue for this week, a site we have visited many times over the years, and it is amazing to see how the site has improved over time.  Recent works to the paths have been undertaken by the IW Military Preparation College, as well as regular work by a dedicated team of volunteers and of course GG.  Tasks this week were to dig up bramble from the butterfly meadow where it is starting to re-generate, while others set to cutting back pathways to improve accessibility, and another team trimmed back areas to give more sunlight access to basking lizards. Some preparatory work also took place in the stream, where small nets were positioned downstream and the stream bed agitated by feet to see what the nets would reveal - this included several fresh water shrimps and also blood worms.  Also spotted near the meadow was a beautiful blue dragonfly, which looked as if it had just emerged for the summer.

Mark's Notes.

We decided to survey the Binstead Stream this week in order to gauge how rich it was as a habitat and to help with deciding the best way to manage it.  Some members of our group who are actually pupils of St Georges School, gamely undertook the survey task.  It involved as you will see from the photos, them 'Kick Sampling' the stream by standing in the flowing water, agitating the stream bed with their feet while catching any invertebrates disturbed by that action in their net held downstream.  We found that the stream was actually home to lots of invertebrates but not a huge range of biodiversity (range of species).  Freshwater Shrimps were the species most frequently seen, along with Bloodworms.  As an indicator of pollution the checking of invertebrates in ponds and streams can tell us a lot.  The Bloodworms are very tolerant and can be found in moderately polluted water, however the Shrimps are much less so and would indicate possibly only 'some' pollution .  If nymph stages of insects are there however it indicates clean water and one nymph was seen, (Mark - not seen by myself so species not clarified) we will most likely recheck on our next visit.

Many thanks to all those who contributed the photographs and editorial this week.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Wed 7th May 2014 - Corf Camp, Shalfleet.

It was off to Corf Camp on the outskirts of Shalfleet for our session this week. Frequent readers will know that we visit here two or three times a year to help the staff keep the wonderful grounds in good order. Much of our work this time was a continuation of our previous tasks which included drainage, cutting back overgrown pathways, hedge laying etc. Several new drains were dug to help reduce boggy areas, some involved digging trenches for plastic drain pipes and then back filling with pebble gravel. The trailer we were using to transport the gravel developed a puncture so it was back to the wheel barrows (yet again!). One of the toilet/shower blocks had become somewhat "grown in" to the countryside so the ivy and bramble was cut back - making sure there were no birds nesting nearby. A roving team went around the pathways trimming back anything that was overhanging whilst others did some hedge laying to ensure that the correct pathways are clearly marked. All in all, a very busy session with GG people working right across this beautiful site. The weather was bright and breezy and the turnout was above average.

Carrie's Nature Natter.

May is a fantastic month for wildlife - summer migrants are now here and their beautiful songs combine with our resident birds. Nightingale, cuckoo, swifts and swallows bring much fascination to wildlife watching, while warblers are found in woodlands and hedgerows, and sea cliffs clamour with breeding birds each squabbling for their own space. Our gardens are full of blue tits, great tits, robins, song thrushes and blackbirds, who are very busy trying to find enough food to feed their young.  My own garden has a nestbox full of bluetits, and yesterday I saw the first baby blackbird being fed by its parents.  The little blue tits work so very hard flying backwards and forwards to the nestbox, it must be quite exhausting after one or two broods.

Lots of our trees and hedgerow shrubs are now covered in bright fresh young leaves, while the hawthorns are bursting forth with fat white blossoms.  The end of the month will see elders in flower with their large saucers of tiny flowers, while the ash is one of the last to break into leaf, with the mat black hard casings splitting open to reveal the new growth below.

The meadows are full of yellow rattle, buttercups, meadow vetch, oxeye daisy and dandelions, possibly joined by common spotted orchids and many interesting grasses, sedges and rushes.  On the downs our floral diversity is at its best, with colours and perfumes complemented at the end of the month by the brilliant and astonishing beauty of some of our early butterfly species, such as adonis, chalkhill and common blue.

In our rivers and ponds insects start to make an impact this month, with the short-lived adult mayfly emerging to mate and then dying after just one day. Its nymph stage lasts for a year, and mayflies are an important food source for many fish.  And if you should hear a bang on the outside of your window, it may well be a cockchafer beetle.  This is one of our largest species of beetle and the adults gravitate towards street lights and windows in search of a mate.

Many thanks to Carrie for her monthly Nature Natter and the photographs this week were taken by Mark.

Friday 2 May 2014

Press Release - Commemorating Ten Years of IOW Green Gyming.

News Release:   1st May 2014

For immediate release

Commemorating 10 Years of Green Gyming!

The Island’s countryside has been benefitting for ten years from the efforts of a band of hardy volunteers; and they are a force to be reckoned with, a group who get things done! 

The IW Green Gym is a community group of people who love our Island’s countryside and the wildlife which lives within it.  Each week they donate lots of their time and effort to help maintain it when working at various sites around the Island, over 140 locations at the last count. 

Last September, on their 10th anniversary, they installed a new gate at the IW Council’s Fort Victoria Country Park to mark that occasion.  This week three rare Black Poplar trees have been planted at Gift to Nature’s Pan Mill Meadows in Newport, to commemorate the landmark further within the year.

Why Black Poplar?  This species of tree is Britain’s rarest timber tree with only 3 specimens on the Island.  The group worked with Ventnor Enhancement earlier this year at Flowers Brook in Ventnor where a specimen of Black Poplar can be found.  These trees are dioecious – where male and female flowers are on separate trees - this means that on the Island fertilisation is most likely to only be from other Poplar species creating hybrids, hence the lack of new trees.  Thankfully therefore the 3 trees planted by the group in Newport were propagated from cuttings by Paul Coleman at the IW College.

Mark Russell from IW Green Gym commented “We wanted to plant something special to mark our 10 years and being able to, on Pan Mill Meadows, where we have worked since 2006, means a lot to us.  It is a good Island story; ensuring that local provenanced trees are used in propagation is key to heighten their chances as they are already known to prefer the Island’s climate.  Many thanks to everyone who volunteers with us and for all the other parties involved in making this happen”.