Total Page-views

Blog Archive

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 November 2014

Wed 26th Nov 2014 - All Saints' Church, Freshwater.

Sue's Photographs.

Team GG arrive - No, not in a hearse!

The "wall" of bramble

The problematic bonfire.

One area cleared.

After the bramble had gone - what a difference!

Still sending smoke signals at the end of the session.

Carrie's Photographs.

At the start...

and after Team GG had finished!

The best word to describe the weather for our GG session this week is borrowed from Carol Kirkwood (on the BBC weather) - "Mizzle". This weather adjective describes something between mist and drizzle, exactly what we had today! Our main task was to tackle overgrown areas around the paddock to the east of the church, down towards the Yar estuary. Some of this we had cleared before and this just needed a tidy-up but another part was new to us and VERY overgrown. Undaunted by the 10 foot high wall of brambles, Team GG were soon hacking away, cutting ever deeper into the undergrowth . Lighting a bonfire was problematical due to all the material being rather "green" and very wet but Peter, one of the church wardens, did a sterling job at getting it alight and keeping it burning! I am sure that the photographs above demonstrate how much progress was made during our time there, just amazing what was achieved.... well done to all! Other GG members were kept very busy in the main churchyard giving things a general spruce-up. Thank you to those who were on hand to demonstrate the church organ and to supply us with hot drinks and biscuits at tea break!

Carrie's Nature Find.

This week's find was spotted on a dead branch by Dorinda (see photo) and is called Auricularia auricula-judae  known as Jews Ear, Judas's ear fungus or the jelly ear fungus  It ranges from purple to dark brown or black in colour with a rubbery texture, and is most often found on dead elder trees but also on elm and beech trees. It was said that Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, hanged himself on an elder tree, which is the origin of the name.

This intriguing name stuck, as the taxonomic name Auricularia means ear and the epithet "auricula-judae" means "the ear of Judas."  It is pale brown in colour, and really does resemble a human ear in size, shape and texture. It is generally about 6 cm across, and when young is gelatinous and pliant, but as it gets older it goes black and hard. The spores are white and it grows singly or in groups on old wood.  It is one of the few fungi that has the ability to withstand freezing temperatures which is a useful attribute, since it develops new growths in January,  normally the coldest month of the year in Britain. It can actually freeze solid, and when thawed out shows no ill effects. It can be found all year long throughout Europe, Asia, the United States and Australia.

 The next GG session....Please note change of venue from the (original) printed programme! It is now at Arreton Down, Downend, near Newport (NOT One Horse Field) - see the online programme for full details.

Thanks to Sue and Carrie for the photographs this week and to Carrie for her Nature Find.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Wed 19th Nov 2014 - Merstone "Station", Merstone.

Carrie's Photographs.

Before we started.

Work in hand

All finished!

Sue's Photographs.

At the start.....

And at the finish!

The picture above shows Merstone Station in it's heyday - when we arrived there today the loudspeaker might have announced.... "Passengers arriving at Platform One should beware of the brambles" - what a difference 60 years make! We normally visit this site around this time of year to rake-up all the cuttings after the whole area has been mechanically flailed but due to some contractual difficulties, this year the platform area remained uncut and VERY overgrown. Never mind, Team GG soon on the job with slashers, lopers, shears and rakes and by the end of the session the platform was looking neat and tidy once again. It was sad to see that the maze area that we have worked on during previous visits has all but disappeared, overgrown by the grass. Although the sky was overcast, winter hasn't really arrived yet this year, so working outside is still very pleasant. Perhaps this encouraged the excellent turn-out this week, we certainly seem to be the group to be with on a Wednesday morning, at the moment!

Many thanks to Carrie and Sue for the photographs.  

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Wed 12th Nov 2014 - Pan Country Park, Newport.

Sue's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

The GG Ladies doing their bit for Movember!

Mark's Photographs.

The Grand Entrance to the site!

An attempt at camouflage - when wearing hi-vis clothing!

See... told you that it close to rain.

On the way to our GG session this week, I found myself chanting that old rhyme, "Rain, rain, go away, come back another day"! With dark clouds on the horizon it was amazing to see just how many members turned up in the Newport Football Club car park (thanks to the stewards for letting us park there) ready for a new, exciting venue. After a short trek across the fields and along Pan Lane we found the work area with the Rangers already in attendance and working hard....! We were shown around the Country Park site and the various tasks pointed out to us as we went. Those jobs included cutting back around the previously planted saplings (some of which were disease resilient elms), removal of  plant guards and the cutting back of bramble that had started to overgrow the recently planted hedges. Perhaps it was my earlier chanting, but there were only a few light showers during the session, with the sun breaking through on the odd occasion. The photographs above show everyone strung-out along the hedge line and around the saplings, clearing away anything that was preventing the "right" things from growing. The last one shows a well cleared area with an elm sapling just to the right of centre shot. All in all a great new site to work on.... We look forward to working here again in the future - hint, hint, Mark!

Photographs supplied by Sue, Carrie and Mark - many thanks to you all!

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Wed 5th Nov 2014 - RSPCA IoW HQ, Bohemia Corner, Godshill.

It is almost a year to the day that we had our first visit to this venue and this time we were to continue the work we started back then. The unusually warm spell of weather had decided to turn a bit cooler, but the sunny periods soon had people taking off their outer "layers". Three main tasks were to be undertaken, clearance of the vegetation and trees around the pond, cutting back in the old orchard area and to give the dog walkers' path a make-over, which included rolling up a considerable length of old fencing. Perhaps it is the chance to make a fuss of the dogs as they have their walks but this does seem to be a popular venue with Team GG. (Then again, it might be the fact that the staff their make sure we are well looked after at tea break - many thanks!). With so many people tackling a wide variety of jobs, excellent progress was made towards all the designated tasks and we look forward to coming back again to continue the good work. Perhaps we will eventually get to work on the island in the middle of the pond...?

Carrie’s Nature Natter.
November - the month of whizzbangs, rockets and bonfires lighting up the night sky.  However, these can be nice cosy hidey-holes, so before lighting up do check it does not contain any sleepy hedgehogs, especially if it has fallen leaves.
The last leaves of deciduous trees are carpeting the ground, the only possible exception being beech, which often hangs on to its coppery hues, and the yellow needles of the larch.  Although it is not one of our native trees it is widely planted, and its bright green spring foliage and red cones make it stand out from the rest; it is also unusual in that it is a conifer that loses its needles in Autumn.  Oaks wait until November to put on their coats of many colours, while the falling acorns rely in grey squirrels and jays to disperse them.

The remaining summer bird migrants are taking their leave, but the bare trees make it easier to spot the residents and winter migrants.  Birds most likely to be seen in gardens, woodlands and fields are flocks of roaming tits and finches, joined by the occasional nuthatch and tree creeper.  The passing years show more reports of blackcaps and even chiffchaffs overwintering, while rooks and crows once out of the towns seem to be everywhere, and magpies and jays are also hard to miss.  This month also sees the start of one of our most spectacular winter highlights - the amassing of huge flocks of starlings.  It is not known quite why this happens, perhaps for protection against the cold or predators, but early evenings at certain sites see thousands get together wheeling round the sky in a dark mass chattering and squawking - certainly an amazing spectacle to watch.

At this time bats enter a state of torpor in their hibernacula, and while this is not full hibernation as they will emerge on warm days, it is a state of reduced metabolism and body temperature.  Only dormice and hedgehogs hibernate, while other mammals, such as badgers, reduce winter activity and put on weight to survive the lean months ahead.

STOP PRESS. When you are glancing through the County Press this week, stop at page 35 where GG gets a mention for the work we did at Birchmore Pond (Wed 24th Sept 2014 - Birchmore Pond, Blackwater). Nice photograph of Steve in the pond! There is also an item about Himalayan Balsam picking, they have now got a punt so can tackle it from the water! Wonder if we can "borrow" it next year..????

Many thanks to Sue for the photographs this week and to Carrie for her Nature Natter.