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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 :-

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Wednesday 29 July 2015

Wed 29th July 2015 - Rew Dow, Ventnor. GG # 595.

Carrie's Photographs. (Team A)

This week's Green Gym was held down in the "Deep South" of the Island - Rew Down Ventnor. According to Mark's statistics, this would be our 8th session at this venue but we hadn't worked there since 2009! Right at the start it was decided to split the group in two….. one party to work at the bottom of the down and the other to go right up to the top, by the golf club car park. Team A (at the bottom) were tasked to "plant" closing posts for a recently installed kissing gate. It sounded an easy enough job until we realised that the majority of Ventnor is built on chalk and the posts had to be planted some 2.5 feet into the ground! Having carefully measured out EXACTLY where everything had to go (easy for people to transit the gate but a barrier to grazing sheep) it was all hands to the spades. The pictures above show just how deep we had to go..! The posts were then tamped into their final positions and the surrounding ground levelled and cleared, ready for the fencing to be re-instated at a later date. Teams B and C had to scale Ventnor's equivalent of Everest - so well done to them…! 

A windy, cloudy day but it did stay dry and we had a good turnout.

Many thanks to the Golf Club who allowed us the use of their car park.

Alison's Photographs. (Team B)

Alison reports that there were 8 large sacks of ragwort collected,
so well done to Team B…!

Perhaps the remains of a badger fight?

Mark's Photographs.  (Team C)

Team A climb "the mountain" for tea break.

Nice views of the Round the Island Race - see link below.

And, from Mark…..

A couple notes  from me...

Nice to get back to Rew Down.  It has been quite a time.  In fact the folks on the Ragwort pulling task today, Team B, used the stile we installed the last time we were here!

 I don't have any pics of the Ragwort pulling gang, Team B, unfortunately as I was with yet a further group, Team C;  and we were neither up nor down as we were working on the corral - cutting and clearing access to the gate there and working on the fenceline.  

Here is a link to the round the Island race which we witnessed passing by this morning.  It was apparently part of the Royal Yacht Squadron's Bi-centenary International Regatta.


Carrie's Nature Find.

This week’s find is Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra), also known as Black Knapweed or hardheads.  This common and familiar plant with thistle like flower heads, spineless leaves and stem blooms from June to September.  The flowers are purple although occasionally you may see them in white, and exist in two forms known as rayed and un-rayed.

This tall, native grassland perennial is found in low to moderately fertile soils, but not very damp or acid sites, so the place we found it on the fairly steep side of Rew Down is perfect for this beautiful plant.
It is found in pastures, road verges, meadows, field borders, scrub land, woodland edges and waste ground.  It can survive for some years in both grazed pasture and neglected tussocky grassland, but in order to regenerate it needs an opportunity to seed into open ground.

The flowers are pollinated by a wide range of insects including flies, butterflies, beetles and bees, while the resulting see heads attract gold finches and other seed feeding birds – in fact the bank we found this group of flowers was absolutely covered in bees and butterflies - absolutely fantastic to see.

Many thanks to Carrie for her photographs and editorial and to Alison and Mark for their contributions.

Sunday 26 July 2015

Sunday 26th July 2015 - Watershoot Bay, litter-pick - News Flash…!

Have a look at this from the CP web site. A good job we DIDN'T come across it during our recent litter  pick. Mark assures me that he does include explosives in his site risk assessment but it might have been very "interesting" if we happened to find something similar!

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Wed 22nd July 2015, Barncourt Farm, Redhill Lane, Wroxall. GG # 594.

Sue's Photographs.

Himalayan Balsam…the "enemy".

A view across the meadow.

Just to show how much it grows - in just ONE year...

Dr. Livingstone I presume...

A bit like Jack and the Bean Stalk?
Carrie's Photographs.

Getting "stuck-in"!

Yes, they do grow tall…..

That showed them who is boss…!
Mark's Photographs.

Yes…..she IS standing up!

Just one of the many piles of "pickings".

It is just under one year ago that we last visited this site (Aug 2014) as part of our continuing crusade to rid the IoW of Himalayan Balsam. Earlier this year we worked at the Donkey Sanctuary so today was working along the same valley that runs south from there. At this time of year the undergrowth as almost at it's maximum height and for the area we were working in, this equated to over 2.4m (8 foot in old units!) Trying to hack your way into weeds and bramble at that height can be "interesting" and you certainly have to be careful of where you are treading (I fell in the stream!). We were trying to pull as much of the HB along the river bank and footpaths in the hope that we reduce the transfer of seeds later in the growing cycle. Excellent progress was made around two borders of the field where we parked but it was hard going out in the main meadow area. Never mind, every plant pulled reduces the number of new ones that will be there next year! Once again, we had a light shower of rain but the sun was soon shining through the clouds. The number of GGmers attend was down a little but it is the holiday season plus some will be doing their Grandparent Baby Sitting duties…..!

Many thanks to the owners of Barncourt Farm for allowing us to park in their field.

Carrie's Nature Find.

This week our find was the very pretty Great willowherb (Epilobium Hirsutum), a  tall, common herb with a densely hairy stem bearing long, narrow leaves that taper to a point and are similar in appearance to those of willows, hence the name ‘willowherb’.

The leaves and stems are very woolly, referred to by the specific Latin name ‘hirsutum', which means hairy, while the flowers have a rosy flush with stigmas of creamy white. This colouration is thought to have led to the alternative name of ‘codlins-and-cream’; codlins were cooking apples, and were often boiled in milk and eaten with cream.

It is a  perennial herb that spreads by seed or by means of branching white subterranean rhizomes that are produced during summer, resulting in large dense clumps, while its broad flowers are visited by hoverflies and bees. It is common throughout most of Britain, with the exception of the far north-west , and its numbers have increased in Wales, south west Scotland and the north of England.  It is also found in mainland Europe as far north as southern Sweden, and also occurs in temperate parts of Asia, and north, east and south Africa.

Thanks to Sue, Carrie and Mark for the photographs.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Wed 15th July 2015 - Wetland Walk, Adgestone. GG # 593.

Sue's Photographs.

The pathway as we started..

Some fruit from the trees.
(Note from Sue - Anyone know what type of apple this is?)

Wood sculptures - "discovered" in the undergrowth.

Sawing up the leaning tree.

Mind that wasp's nest…..

The ditch by the cycle track.

Yes, the weeds were THAT tall..!

The pathway, on completion.
Carrie's Photographs.

Mark's Photographs.

Team GG having a cuppa.

The leaning willow - the bow saw was just big enough...


After the area was trimmed back.

The reason we cut the leaning willow tree - split trunk.

A cricket.

Marsh bedstraw.

Similar to last week's GG session, this one started and ended with a light shower but fortunately remained dry from 10:00 until 13:00. First impressions of the site were not good, looking from the gate, by the road, it was impossible to see the picnic area, such was the height go the grass and weeds. Even some of the smaller trees had "disappeared" in the undergrowth - so all the work we had done here in the past seemed to have been negated. With some 30 plus GGmers working hard, we need not have worried as the whole area received a very speedy makeover and looked as good as ever by the time we had finished…! Part of the team were asked to deal with tree that leaned over the lower footpath, so this was felled, cut up, then piled up to the sides of the path. Hopefully this week's photographs will show the extent of the work undertaken across the site. Well done to everyone who attended and have made this site accessible for the start of the school holidays when it is used by many families.
Thank you to the Golf Club for allowing us to use their staff parking area for the van and overspill parking.

Carrie's Nature Natter.

Two items this week, the first being Fleabane (kindly identified by Mark), which has medicinal properties, and though in England it has never had much of a reputation as a curative agent, it has ranked high in the estimation of herbalists abroad. Our old authors call it 'Middle Fleabane' which is derived from the fact that, if burnt, the smoke from them drives away fleas and other insects.

It is a rough-looking plant, with soft, hoary foliage, and large terminal flat heads of bright yellow flowers, single, or one or two together. They are large in proportion to the size of the plant, with numerous long and narrow ray florets being paler than the florets in the centre or disk.
The plant is in bloom from the latter part of July to September, having silky fruit crowned by a few short, unequal hairs of a dirty-white, with an outer ring of very short bristles or scales, a characteristic which distinguishes it from Elecampane and other members of the genus Inula.

Our second find was a bush cricket (kindly identified by Steve) happily sitting on Marion's hand to have his picture taken – crickets sing by rubbing their wings together, while their front legs detect surrounding sounds.  The parts that are rubbed together are called the file and the scraper, the file has little ridges so the effect is rather like rubbing a comb along a piece of card.

Most crickets are crepuscular – meaning they come out at dusk, and although mostly eat grass, are also partial to animal matter as well.

A message from Mark.

I've tweeted about another IWGG news item - dating from pre blog years!

White-letter Hairstreak butterflies have been spotted on Elm trees at Towngate Pond.  These butterflies are certainly not common, with only a handful of sightings each year on the Island.  They've suffered the decline due to loss of Elm trees to Dutch Elm Disease.
Back in January 2004 we were involved in planting disease resistant Elms for Island2000 Trust on this site, some have survived and along with others planted elsewhere there by contractors they are now home to this rare species.

As you might see I've now a few more grey hairs since that photo was taken by Simon. I'm on the far left, and on the far right is young Michael when he used to come with the school, shown here working with Pam (Martin's wife).

Wondered if it might be of interest to everyone.

Mark Russell

Many thanks to Sue, Carrie and Mark for the photographs and to Carrie for the Nature Natter.