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Spring is on its way


The winter months have been long and decidedly damp, but we are finally seeing some delightfully bright days and the signs that nature is waking up are all around. 
Despite storms Brenden to Jorge wreaking havoc on our weather, the rangers have continued with the winter jobs crucial to keeping the sites well managed.

Our plans for Golden Hill Country Park are well and truly underway and although some of the archaeological excavations are behind schedule, we are confident that by the time of the event, on May 17th, we will have some fascinating stories to share with you. See below for some more information on what has been happening at Golden Hill Country Park and what is yet to come ! 

Our work is more or less complete at Merstone Station - Have you visited yet ? We think its splendid. Hopefully it  will encourage more visitors to use the site as a base to explore the surrounding countryside. We would love to hear what you think  Please do take a few minutes to take our very short survey on our website to share your thoughts
www.gifttonature.co.uk/merstone  
 

The Rangers Blog – March 2020 

 

Hello and welcome to this month’s addition of the Ranger Blog. As the G2N team continues to battle the high winds and continuous rainfall we have been working hard to carry out regular site maintenance and ensure that we are able to achieve our winter work, such as pruning hedges, clearing marshes and felling trees before we reach the spring. 

Both storms Ciara & Dennis have affected our sites, much like the rest of the U.K., and we have been regularly visiting them to ensure that the pathways are clear and surveying the condition of the trees to ensure they are not showing signs of failure. Trees have fallen at Bonchurch Landslip, Pan Mill Meadows and Pig Leg Lane and it has been our priority to get to the sites as quickly as possible and clear the trees away and assure that they are safe. All of the material from the fallen trees has been neatly piled and stashed on site, creating habitat piles for animals to use for shelter, sources of food, nesting etc. One of the main reasons we carry out regular site checks is to ensure that the trees are in good health and are not showing signs of decline and possible failure. Any trees showing signs of ill health which are close to paths are potentially hazardous as there may be a possibility that the tree could fall onto the path. We monitor the trees and will take action if we feel they are a risk. We will also carry out dead wooding of trees to reduce the likelihood of dead limbs falling onto pathways in the event of high winds. 


At Golden Hill Country Park the last 10 fruit trees were planted in the orchard earlier in the month. For the final session, myself and Nick had a fantastic planting session with All Saints C of E primary School as teachers and students were able to join us and assist with the final stages of planting. After being shown the practical demonstration for how to plant the trees the students arranged themselves into small groups and all took part in planting and providing after care for each of the 10 fruit trees. The session was both fun and educational and all of the students did a fantastic job with the trees being planted to a very good standard. On behalf of Gift to Nature we would like to say a big thank you to All Saints Primary School and all of the volunteers who have helped us to create and plant the new orchard. It has been a fantastic project to be a part of and it has really improved the entrance to the site as well as creating an alternative orchard habitat at the park. 

We returned to Afton Marsh and continued with our wetland management with the assistance of Green Gym. We had a great turn out for the session with 20 volunteers showing up to endure the wind and rain and work through the water logged conditions to assist us cutting back invasive willow and alder, stacking it neatly on site and helping to control the fire whilst we burned the cut brash. The majority of the volunteers were able to stay relatively dry and avoid the well disguised bogs, however Nick was unfortunately not so lucky, being forced off balance into the marsh, much to the amusement of the other volunteers. Thankfully he was uninjured but did have to endure a wet foot for the remainder of the day. It was a valuable session as we were able to cover large areas of the marsh whilst being able to dispose of large piles of brash from around the site. We would not be able to carry out our work to the same effective level if it wasn’t for the hard work and dedication of volunteers such as the Green Gym and we would like to thank everyone involved. 

With spring approaching you can now begin to see wildflowers emerging such as primrose, daffodils and lesser celandines on many of our sites. Please get in touch by sending pictures and telling us about what you find on our sites as we are always fascinated to know. 

That’s all for this month folks. I hope you have enjoyed it and we will look forward to updating you in the next addition. Thanks for all of your support.

Ed

Nick experiencing a boot full of water at Afton Marsh !

Site of the Month
Dodnor Creek

Great excitement at Gift to Nature this month when local bird expert told us that he thinks that the Cettis warbler, seen in the reedbed at Dodnor Creek, is now a breeding species in our reserve. Dark, stocky warbler, the Cetti's warbler is notoriously difficult to spot and is most likely to be heard, rather than seen - listen out for its bubbling song. The Water rail is another secretive resident in the reed beds on the reserve, and is one of the specialities of Dodnor Creek.

The Local Nature Reserve is brilliant at this time of year as a base for a spot of birdwatching and most birds are a bit more obliging. In the reserve itself, Common snipe occasionally visit during winter months and the overwintering kingfisher will stay until March. The Little egrets roosts on the fallen Poplar in Dodnor Creek, occasionally with a Grey heron.

But to see most birds take a walk along the sea wall and along the estuary towards south towards Medina Riverside Park or north to Werrar. 

 

The Oystercatcher is the one wader that is in the Medina Valley all year round, and feeds along the length of the estuary at low water, including the inter-tidal of the estuary adjacent to the Dodnor Creek wall. Two or three pairs attempt to nest each year, at Werrar saltmarsh, on the wreck ‘Yellowfin’ in Werrar Creek and on the roof of Premier Ford! However, the Oystercatcher is not recorded in Dodnor Creek. 

 

Curlew and Redshank feed in the upper estuary close to Dodnor Creek in most months of the year. Small numbers of Dark-bellied brent geese and wigeon feed on the estuary during the winter months, and this winter a group of 8 Gadwall have remained in the upper estuary for several weeks, just upstream from Dodnor Creek. 

 


 
Widgeon

Golden Hill Country Park


There are so many exciting things happening at Golden Hill Country Park just now I hardly know where to begin.
Despite the unhelpful weather the Dr Ruth Waller's volunteers archaeological  team have been uncovering and revealing some fascinating finds. Along with the metal dectectorist's trove,  there is so much to share with the public and all can be revealed at our Golden Hill Golden Celebrations event on Sunday May 17th. 
The new Community Orchard is well under way and with the help of local volunteers looks set to be a wonderful asset for the community and wildlife alike.

Our team have been working very hard behind the scenes  on interpretation signage to help everyone enjoy and understand the heritage and local environment alike and work has begun on clearing the area chosen by Natural England as the best site for the exciting new natural willow maze installation that we hope will encourage more families to visit and enjoy the park.
Eddie Glew, The sculptor who will be working on the project, will be spending 3 weeks on site with 2 other assistants to create something akin to the stunning piece that he created at Warwick Castle in Coventry.


 

Have you been involved in the project ?  

 if you have visited the park recently or indeed have taken part in any of the volunteering opportunities on offer you will have seen some of the remarkable old military base structures uncovered by the volunteers or will have spotted the new orchard or indeed benefited from the access improvements carried out around the park. 

Volunteers have also been active researching the soldiers who were based at the Fort along with the families who accompanied them, with many of the children attending the All Saints School in Freshwater. 

Even though the project has some time to run we are evaluating the work already achieved and are keen to get the comments of the volunteers who are taking part in the work. The evaluation, independent of Natural Enterprise is being undertaken by Pete Johnstone of PJ elements, the Island based fundraising and environmental consultancy. 

So, if you have volunteered on Golden Hill in the past year, we would be very grateful if you could spend a few minutes completing the online questionnaire which can be found here. The comments are all anonymous and will help us improve our volunteering programmes.

And if you would still like to be involved, we need volunteers to help us at the Golden Celebrations event on May 17th. please do get in touch if you can spare a few hours to support our work and have some fun at the same time . 

Thank you 

 

Shop News


The shop welcomes a few new faces with Jayne Booth taking over the role of shop manager from Tamara Purves, who has had to leave us to move to the mainland with her family. She will be greatly missed, but her vision and passion will live on with Jayne, who is equally passionate about nature and the environment and like Tam is a talented maker in her own right. We also welcome Shara and David Ouston to the team. Shara will be focussing on our lovely little garden area and is keen to encourage  more of your plant donations, so please do let us know if you can help by growing plants for us to sell to raise funds this year and pop in and have a chat with Shara or Jayne.
We have expanded our Ecovibe range so lots of planet friendly solutions to our everyday needs are available in store and we are also now stocking a range of seeds to encourage some kitchen garden activity.   
 

Dates for your Diary


We will be leading a selction of walks as part of the Isle of Wight Walking Festival

Our team will be leading the following

3rd May - Golden Hill Country Park Dog Walk 
11th May - Golden Hill Country Park Nature Ramble
12th May - The Golden Hill Geocache Explore 
17th May - Golden Celebrations at Golden Hill Event 12pm - 4pm at Golden Hill Country Park
20th May- Quiz Night to raise funds for Gift to Nature at The Mill Bay Pub Ventnor

 

17th May - Golden celebrations at Golden Hill

A very special day with music, military re - enactors, storytellers and lots of outdoor activities and the unveiling of a very special interactive installation. Join us to discover the heritage of the ex military site and talk to the archaeological team that have been exploring and researching the area.
Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for updates but save the date now as this is not a day to miss!

 
If you shop at Amazon you can now help raise funds by choosing us as your charity through their Smile initiative.
Select Natural Enterprise in the charity search box and a percentage of your purchase will be donated to us. Its very simple and can make a big difference to the charity.  
Thank you for your continued interest in the Gift to Nature project. We are a charity and if you can help by making a small donation to our work it would be put to good use in the management of the 29 sites we look after for everyone to enjoy.
If you can help support us please visit our website for how to help

Gift to Nature is part of Natural Enterprise.
Registered charity number 1083233
 
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