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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 25 June 2014

Wed 25th June 2014 - Play Lane Millennium Green, Haylands.

Carrie's Photographs.

Mark's Photographs.

One of the really nice bits about having a GG session at the Millennium Green is getting there! Due to local parking restrictions on the roads close to the site, we have to park in Binstead Estate then walk through the woods, following the stream as we go. Once we had all assembled, Mark and several of the Green trustees showed us around the jobs that required our attention. The main jobs were to clear accumulated mud from under the boardwalk, tackle overgrown areas of woodland, trim back this year's growth along the footpaths and give the whole area a "once over". We might have been a bit down on attendance this week but all the main jobs were completed, thereby helping to keep this wonderful area in prime condition. Mark and a couple of GGmers took some samples from the stream to establish exactly what is living in the water - this included fresh water shrimp and a leech (see below). With the sun shining overhead and numerous butterflies flittering around, it was a very enjoyable session.

Kick Sampling in the stream.

The idea is to GENTLY disturb the stream bed with your foot (NOT huge kicks!) then net whatever you flush out. This gives a good idea of what is living along that stretch of stream and also the water quality. This is a continuation of the sampling carried out when we visited the site back on May 14th 2014. The following text was written then..

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.

Freshwater shrimp.

Water Cricket Nymph.

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

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Wed 18th June 2014 - Brading Down Video.

Sorry about how small the video is and the watermark across the middle. Will continue to try and sort it out so..... watch this space...! P.S. If you are viewing this on an iPad then the video might not be available, this is because it doesn't support Flash Player. You can try a third party viewer or just give me a hard time at the next GG session!

Wed 18th June - Brading Down.

Carrie's Photographs.

Ranger Bob's Photograph.

Aerial Shot.

Back to PPP (Pesky Plant Pulling) again this week, this time it was Ragwort that had our undivided attention. With a special 3 pronged fork in one hand and a plastic rubbish sack in the other, it is just a matter of moving to the next ragwort plant, dig it up, place in sack and then move on to the next. Not exactly the most riveting job in the world but when you see how few plants there are now, all our efforts over the years seem to be paying off, so it is somewhat rewarding. Other jobs tackled included repairs to an existing gate and the posts installed to convert a conventional gate into a "kissing gate". The sky was overcast but it was pleasantly warm which encouraged a good turnout.

The aerial photograph was taken from a Blade 350QX quad copter fitted with a Gopro Hero 3 camera, during our tea break. I will include a video clip at a letter date IF I can ever work out how to get Blogger to upload the file....!

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

This week's find was made by Marian during our ragwort session on Brading Down, and kindly identified by Nick the Ranger.  This is a Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) and this highly distinctive wildflower was chosen as the Isle of Wight's county flower.  It is found in good numbers on our chalk landscapes, however as with most orchids, it needs a specific fungus to be present in the soil in order for it to flourish.  This hardy plant has an average height of 10-25 cm with an erect and unbranched stem.  The arrangement of hermaphroditic flowers in this pyramidal shape is very distinctive, giving this orchid its common name.  Its colour varies from pink to purple and sometimes, although this is rare, white.  The best time to see them is when they flower during June and July.

A big "Thank You" to everyone who contributed to the blog this week.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Wed 11th June 2014 - Alverstone to Langbridge, Riverside.

This is how big HB can grow in a few short weeks...!

Our mission this week was to try and rid a section of the Eastern Yar of the dreaded  Himalayan Balsam plant. We have worked here several times before and our efforts are starting to show dividends with far fewer Pesky Plants growing this year. The big problem this time was the height of the stinging nettles that always seem to grow in the same area as the HB, many of them being taller than the GG pullers! A larger than normal Team were soon strung out along the cycle path / river bank working hard to eliminate the enemy. With the sun shining and the weather so warm, it was difficult to stay wrapped up with long sleeved clothing but to revert to anything lighter resulted in very sore arms. The people using the cycle path must have been very amused to see us tunnelling though the nettles to access the HB shouting "OUCH!" every time a stinger got the better of us. Judging by the numerous piles of uprooted stems by the end of the session, we had another successful attack on this unwanted visitor.

If you would like further info on HB then please try this link - Himalayan balsam/RHS Gardening

Carrie's Nature Natter.

Flaming June, and the month containing the longest day of the year.  Our countryside is bursting with trees fully in leaf, although the bright green of spring has now been taken over by a darker, more mellow hue. Hawthorn blossom has faded, but our roadsides are now lit up with the large disks of creamy and pungent flowers of the elder, while our hedgerows abound with wild dog roses, honeysuckle, blackberry flowers, and in acidic soils the first flowering of foxgloves.  Our open grasslands have a wonderful show of ox-eye daisy, yellow bird’s foot trefoil, the small pink flowers of herb robert and elegant pink bindweed.

The breeding season for birds is now in full swing, and they are all busy finding enough food to fill lots of hungry mouths, with young birds relentlessly demanding food from increasingly tired adults, including the dowdy starlings rushing after their more iridescent parents squawking indignantly. On our farmlands you can hear the song of the yellowhammer with its "a-little-bit-of-bread-and no-cheese" song from a hedgerow perch, or the corn bunting proclaiming its territory with a song which sounds like the jangle of a bunch of keys. Goldfinches, linnets and greenfinches are all part of the sounds of June, and can be augmented by summer visitors such as whitethroats and other warblers.

On our sea shores the cliff tops can provide a riot of colour, with the flower bobbles of thrift and sheep’s-bit growing from the tight mats of green leaves.  They grow among vetches and grasses, but thrift is especially good at finding the tiniest ledge to perch on.  Even in the inhospitable environment of the sea shore, salt tolerant plants such as the edible sea beet, white flowered sea campion, yellow horned poppy and sea plantain can be found.

Our chalk and limestone grasslands are among the most precious wildlife assets in Britain, and the enormous diversity of insect and plant species is amazing.  June sees the lesser butterfly orchid, horseshoe vetch, small scabious, fly orchid, cheddar pink, tuberous thistle, betony, clustered bellflower, burnet saxifrage, meadow saxifrage, restharrow and also species such as bird’s foot-trefoil, rockrose, common milkwort, salad burnet, bee orchid, common gentian, marjoram and oxeye daisy. The type of butterfly species found are usually determined by the length of the grass.  If long, then meadow brown and marbled white can be abundant, while the family of blue butterflies can only tolerate short (sometimes very short) tufty grass. 

Many thanks to Carrie for her Nature Natter and photographs.

Friday 6 June 2014

Wed 4th June 2014 - St Helen's Duver and Priory Bay.

The weathermen foretold a day of rain but at St Helens at least it remained dry for us all right throughout our Green Gym session.  This allowed us 30 volunteers to spread out across the dunes and around the coastline searching out litter for the collection of, and Common ragwort, for the pulling up of.  The group did very well and this lovely National Trust reserve is looking a treat.   Especially beautiful this year is the show of Thrift (Sea Pink).  It seems it really enjoyed the inundation by the storms and tides during this last winter.

Many thanks to Mark for the photographs and editorial this week.