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To look at the Isle of Wight Green Gym web page (contains details of sessions etc) please use the following link :-

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

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Wed 28th Jan 2015 - Dickson's Copse, Dodnor, Newport.(And Coffee Morning!)

Yesterday, 27th Jan 2015, GG held their first ever fund raising event. This was in the form of a coffee morning, held over at the West Wight Community Centre, Freshwater. It all went off very well and the amazing amount of £112 was raised. We would like to thank everyone who was involved with organising it, those attending the event and to WWCC for allowing us to hold it there. Below is a photograph showing some of the participants... CHEERS...!!! (The cake was really yummy!)

Right, now let's get on with this week's session....

Sue's Photographs.

Carrie's Photographs.

While we were meeting up, prior to tackling the job, a lone voice was heard to mutter "What the heck are we all doing here...?" (or something similar to that...). When it is a damp morning, with a cold northerly wind blowing, I imagine we have all asked ourselves exactly that question. But, even when the weather is at it's worse, we still keep coming back for more...
Due to something of a mental aberration, Nick the Ranger wasn't there to greet us for this session but Mark soon got work underway. We were to "process" the pre cut trees and shrubs that were piled along the edges of the reeded area of the old mill pond, lifting them up to the dry areas along the banks. The photographs will show this far better than I can describe it. It can be seen that a good 3 metre strip was opened up along the edge which should allow the reeds to grow there, once again. Unfortunately we experienced a wintery shower towards the end of the session but an amazing amount of clearing was achieved so well done to all those who attended.

Carrie's Nature Natter.

This week’s find is a member of the Cladonia (reindeer lichen) genus called Cladonia Rangiferina.  It is whitish-grey in colour, grows in low, bushy clumps, and its common name “reindeer moss” is a bit of a misnomer, as it is a species of lichen.  The name arose because many members of this genus comprise a major part of the diet of reindeer during winter, although the specific name of this species “mediterranean”  suggests it does not occur in areas supporting reindeer, unless of course they are hiding somewhere else in Dicksons Copse!
Lichens actually consist of two different organisms, a fungus and either an alga ( a simple plant) or a cyanobacterium (bacteria that can photosynthesise), which live together symbiotically, forming a composite organism.  They are known to be very sensitive to environmental pollution, and have been used as “indicator” species.  It can be used in the making of aquavit, as decoration in glass windows, and also as a traditional remedy for the removal of kidney stones by the Monpa people in the alpine regions of the Eastern Himalayas.  It is also used a food by crushing the dry plant, boiling or soaking it in hot water until it becomes soft, then mixed with berries, fish eggs or lard.  It does, however, need to be well cooked or it can cause stomach upsets.

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

Thursday 22 January 2015

News Flash...

A few news items that might be of interest.... all things we are involved with.

IW County Press, 23rd Jan 2015 - Page 12 - "Initiative to rid IW of weed". An article about Pesky Plant Pulling. I hope you are all going to donate cash so we can go out PP pulling in 2015...!!!!!!

The following item was on the IWCP web site....

Cash boost for Naturezone's natural way to a healthier life

By Richard Wright
Monday, January 19, 2015

Cash boost for Naturezone's natural way to a healthier life
At the presentation of cash from Spectrum Housing Group are, back, from left, Andy Pound, Dave Talbot, Becky Haydock, Sam Brooks and Wendy Cooper; front, Jill Fothergill, Brian Read, Dana Edkins and Angela Hewitt.
THE Naturezones wildife education trust on the Isle of Wight has issued an invitation to join a project set up as a result of a £2,000 donation from Spectrum Housing.
Naturezones’ project manager, Angela Hewitt, said: "The money was awarded for us to run a health and fitness project for people with low energy levels.
"We applied for the funds after discussing the idea with Sam Brooks, an NHS health trainer employed by Community Action Isle of Wight, based at the Riverside Centre, Newport.
"We both agreed healthy living began with being outdoors in the fresh air. The activities included completing surveys of the flora and fauna that inhabits our nature reserve.
"Photography, sketching, potting-up wildflower plants and gathering seeds are included. We will also be providing a healthy lunch, such as fresh vegetable soup and fruit.
"Other organisations who have clients who may fit into our programme are welcome to join us at our reserve, at Birchmore Lane, Blackwater."

And finally.....
Just picked up the follow article from the IWCP web site. So it looks as though the Council are going ahead with it...! Well Mark, how much has the IoWGG got in the tea kitty, enough for a bid? :-))
All joking aside, I wonder who we will be working with (for?) on these sites in the future? I notice that they hope to have it all sorted by April 1st - All Fools Day - Hahaha.....

Future of Isle of Wight beauty spots considered by council

Brading Down is among the beauty spots which could be managed by organisations other than the Isle of Wight Council in future. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
FAMOUS Isle of Wight beauty spots such as Brading Down, Afton Marshes near Freshwater and Rew Down, Ventnor will not be looked after by the Isle of Wight Council in future.
The council is looking for an organisation to take over the running of its countryside estate and service, which currently manages 120 hectares across 20 locations on the Isle of Wight.
The sites include protected areas famous for their wildlife which are currently owned by the authority. The new partner organisation which will run the areas would maintain the beauty spots and improve public access.
Some countryside sites will be retained by the council for operational reasons but the majority are due to be transferred. Some of the staff, vehicles and other assets will also be transferred under the new working arrangement, depending on the agreement that is eventually reached.
The chosen partner organisation will receive a grant from the Isle of Wight council for the first three years after it takes over running the estate.
An Isle of Wight Council spokesman said how the service would be continued after that funding ended was a key consideration in choosing a successful provider.
Cllr Luisa Hillard, executive member for sustainability, environment and public realm, said: "I can assure residents that the council takes its stewardship responsibilities very seriously and that we value our countryside as an asset for not only our wildlife but residents and visitors.
"Public access will therefore be protected so that we can all continue to enjoy these sites. I am confident that we will have some high quality applicants come forward who will be able to invest and improve our countryside for the benefit of the Isle of Wight."
Interested parties will have until March 6 to complete and submit their application. It is hoped the new partner organisation will be in place by April 1.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Carrie's January Nature and History Natter.

January's Nature and History Natter.

January is one of the core months of winter, and although the shorter days can be crisp and bright, Spring still seems a long way off.  Flocks of wintering thrushes move around together searching for berries and other food, while blue tits will be scouting for Spring nesting sites, so make sure your nest boxes are in place.  One of our most spectacular sights are the huge flocks of starlings making amazing shapes in the sky, known as a murmuration.  Another winter delight is the sight of waxwings, so named for the waxy tips to some of their feathers.  These beautiful pinkish birds can be found even in cities, having a particular liking for the berry laden trees and bushes of some supermarket car parks, and are certainly worth making a special trip to hunt out!  In Britain the uncommon Cetti's warbler and the extremely rare and localised Dartford warbler are the stars of their type, as they do not migrate and are scarce enough to excite.  Increasingly blackcaps and chiffchaffs can be found in Britain at this time of the year, and their presence is a pleasant reminder of summer.  Rooks keep close to their nesting areas through the year, but can now be seen once more, with pairs working together to repair and rebuild the nests for the new season.

Our amphibians and reptiles all hibernate during the winter, and while newts may be unintentionally discovered under logs and in stonework, they should not be disturbed during hibernation.  January sees the emergence of some species with the first newts moving towards their breeding ponds, and in the counties of the south west, where is weather is slightly warmer, the first of the common frog spawn can now  be found in ponds.

January is really a low point in terms of plant hunting, however precocious dandelions may flower as may other common wayside plants, and the first of the hazel catkins are stretching out into golden tassels.  Lichens are easily found at all times, and it is worth venturing into graveyards, for instance, where the air is not too polluted, to discover these fascinating organisms. They are an association between algal and fungal species, which help each other survive the most adverse of conditions.

The month of January is named after Janus the god of the doorways transitions, gates, passages and endings, who has two faces which show the future and the past.  The name has its roots in Roman mythology deriving from the Latin word for door - ianua - with January being the door to the year. Historical names for January include its original Roman designation, Ianuarius, the Saxon term Wulf-monath (meaning wolf month) and Charlemagne's designation Wintarmanoth (winter / cold month).  In Finland it is known as tammikuu, meaning month of the oak, but its original meaning was the month of the heart of winter, as tammi initially meant axis or core. Czechoslovakians call it leden, meaning ice month, while in Ukrainian it is січень meaning cutting or slicing perhaps referring to the wind.

Many thanks to Carrie for the above.

Wed 21st Jan 2015 - Sandpit Copse, Wootton.

Carrie's Photographs.

Sue's Photographs.

Sorting out the old "dead hedging"

A "carpet" of Ash saplings.

A good old GG bonfire.

All the old "dead hedging" cleared away...

Disposing of the pesky rhododendron. 

Everything looking much tidier.

A rather interesting wooden spoked wheel with rubber tyre.

Our "sign post" to the venue - see text below!

Ask any GGmer what they enjoy most about our sessions and one of the top answers will be "visiting unusual, out of the way, places". Perhaps that is why the turn-out for our new venue this week was so well attended? Having checked Mark's instructions of how to get there ( TWICE ) it was off down a rutted farm lane looking for " a field of LLAMAS and a black hut"... most of the team got there, eventually! Our task was to assist the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) to tidy-up an area of this ancient woodland that is under their stewardship. We were instructed to remove and burn the remains of a "dead hedge", cut down any sycamore and bramble but make sure that any hazel was left untouched. With the fire roaring away and good progress at the job in hand - we decided to tackle an additional area of Rhododendron growing adjacent to the fire. During most of the session it remained dry but we appreciated the use of the black hut for our tea break, as it coincided with a heavy shower of rain.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

King Alfred’s Cakes (Daldinia concentrica) attach themselves on the dead wood of broad leaved trees, mainly ash and beech. Their appearance is literally that of some burnt cakes or even lumps of smooth charcoal. Older fruit bodies have a shiny surface, but younger developing fruit bodies are red/brown in colour with a duller surface  Other common names are Coal Fungus and Cramp Balls, because it was used in an old folk remedy for night cramps.  They are also great for starting fires, with the inner flesh of an old dry specimen which will slowly smoulder, rather like your barbecue briquette.

For those wanting general information about PTES then please use the following link...

Briddlesford Woods - Peoples Trust for Endangered Species

Please note that Sandpit Copse is NOT shown on the PTES map. The area we were working on is a little further to the south.

Photographs courtesy of Sue and Carrie, many thanks to both.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Wed 14th Jan 2015 - Northwood House, Cowes.

Carrie's Photographs.


Oh what a mess we made....

That's much better, nearly finished now.

Sue's Photographs.

Here we go......

...this won't take long....

"The Boss" and the sign that says it all.

Above and below...the "drag it all away" team.

phew....what a difference...!

A rather poor aerial shot of the work area - the greenery to the top of the shot.

The weather forecast for Wednesday morning really didn't read well, with FOUR  yellow Met Office weather warnings spanning Tuesday to Thursday (These were for - snow, ice, rain and high winds!) We should have trusted our Green Gym weather luck because it turned out to be a nice sunny morning, perhaps a little cool in the shade but we were out in the sun..... wonderful. The initial problem with parking was soon resolved and we were tasked to work to the south of those beautiful gardens, along the boundary with the car park. The main job was to tackle a rather overgrown area, cutting it back and transporting it, some distance, to a bonfire. The GGmers not involved with this were soon helping the regular volunteers with various jobs around the gardens (there is always PLENTY to be getting on with!) Examination of the area we were to clear showed it to be mainly holly and bay, amazing there wasn't a lot  of bramble (a first for GG????) It didn't take long for the views of the house and grounds to be opened up from the car parking area and WOW what a difference. As per usual with this sort of work, the "easy" bit is cutting it down - then comes the problems of what do you do with all the cuttings? Mark utilised the van and trailer to move some with the remainder being wheel-barrowed or physically dragged over to the distant bonfire. By the time the session came to a close the majority of the shrubs had been cut down to shoulder height and the area left tidy. A huge "well done" to all the team members who cleared the area, the regular Northwood volunteers seemed very impressed with our efforts.

Working photographs supplied by Sue and Carrie, many thanks to both.

Historical Note.

Aerial photograph of Northwood House (and St Mary's Church - centre shot) taken in 1928. It looks as though the car park we were working in today was originally the house gardens!

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Wed 7th Jan 2015 - Afton Marsh, Freshwater.

Carrie's "Action" Photographs.

Mark's Photographs.

Mud, Mud....glorious MUD...!

Habitat Piles.

Kevin, trying to look busy....

That's what you call a BONFIRE.

The reeds that we want to encourage.

Winter Heliotrope - a non native plant.

With turkey and tinsel long forgotten, come Wednesday morning it was back to business for Team GG. The numbers on the bathroom scales were starting to look a little "generous" so it was off to Afton Marsh and start working off those extra pounds! The pre-work briefing mentioned that we should only use the marked pathway through the reed bed due to "man eating quicksands" in the vicinity. Perhaps we should have worn wet suits rather than wellingtons...???  Fortunately, all the (numerous) GG members found their way through to the work area and were soon processing the pre-cut branches ready for burning on the bonfire. Nick, the Ranger,  had a roaring fire underway so everyone had to work extra hard to keep it fed. One of the problems of working in a marsh is that however firm it might appear to be underfoot initially, it soon turns into wellie grabbing mud! In spite of the somewhat adverse working conditions, the original small clearing quickly opened out which will, hopefully, give the reeds a chance to grow again. Well done to all those who came along for our first meeting of 2015.

Photographs supplied by Carrie and Mark, many thanks to both!