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A Summer Steeped in History

Why is it that the Summer months always go so quickly? You would think with the longer evenings and brighter starts they would feel longer, and more relaxed. This summer has gotten extremely busy for us, lots of sunshine has meant our rangers have really had their work cut out with site maintenance. With our new Supporter Scheme launching last month, we have also been keeping busy (gratefully) signing up new supporters and ensuring they all have their trail packs. Our calendar competition is now closed, thank you to all who entered. We were so pleased to see so many wonderful submissions. Aren't we all lucky to live on this wonderful Island of ours?  
 
Ranger's diary

You would assume what with this glorious weather insects and critters would be hiding for shade. However, we've noticed they are in abundance at our sites. If you stop and listen you can hear the hum of bees and hoverflies and the chirp of hundreds of grasshoppers. At Brading Down alone we have seen many great green bush crickets, marbled white, chalkhill blue, skippers and meadow brown butterflies.
 
One of our rangers Nick had a rare couple of days off early in July to visit the nature reserve at Knepp in West Sussex mainly to spot Purple Emperor butterflies. Well known for their frustrating habit of settling high in the tops of trees, especially oaks, getting a good sighting is often difficult. The males have a purple sheen on their upper wings but it is a challenge to spot one with the wings open and at the right angle to reveal the purple. This trip was a success with a pair landing on Nick’s leg and one obliging individual settling on a footpath to be photographed.

 
Summer garden haul 
Have you struggled to keep your garden looking bright and colourful this summer? All this extra sunshine has taken its toll on both our lawns and our flowers, so we certainly don't blame you if your garden is looking a little bit worse for wear. After all, us Brittish gardeners are used to washout summers rather than consistent warm days. 
      
At the shop this month we have a gorgeous selection of plants already in b
loom, including Monarda, Begonias, Dahlias and verbena as well as lots of gardens and home decor from London Ornaments. Like this little fella below. 

Dodnor Rediscovered captures local heritage (and hearts)

 Pictured above 'mummies caves' one of the original cement kilns.

For the last few months Gift to Nature have been heading up a fascinating project at the Dodnor Creek/Dickson’s Copse nature reserve, designed to increase the public’s understanding of the rich industrial and natural heritage of the site- Part funded by a Heritage Lottery Grant.
 
Dodnor Rediscovered has seen local archaeologists and wildlife experts working together to reveal and stabilise a historic cement kiln, known locally as ‘The Mummies Caves’  an extraordinary tale about mills, cement, renewable power, and nature. 
 
The project is now reaching its conclusion and they revealed their findings to the public on Saturday 28th July in a special open day where the public was able to access the actual kilns themselves.
 
Although you will be able to view them from the cycle path in the future, Saturday was one of the few times the public
were able to examine the kilns at close quarters as they are only accessible from private land.
 
As well as access to the Kilns, visitors got to experience Gift to Nature’s new nature trail in the Local Nature Reserve. The trail was partly funded by Tescos Bags of Help and made possible with the help of Southern Water staff volunteers. Be sure to check out the bespoke carved wood posts to waymark the trail
 
The day also included live demonstrations, wandering minstrels, trails and storytelling for kids, local artist collaborations and refreshments.
 
Wandering minstrel James Goode, serenading the visitors in front of this gorgeous backdrop. 
We were very lucky to collaborate with some local artists at the event. This watercolour comes from the very talented illustrator Alan Rowe and depicts Dickson's Copse pond. 

Site of the Month Dodnor Creek & Dickson's Copse 

This site has been the main focus of our upgrade activity throughout the Spring and Summer. Dodnor Creek is an old millpond, fringed by willow scrub and reed beds, and is home to many species of bird. Mallard, coot and swans have regularly seen nesting there. Swallows and swifts swoop and soar over the water catching insects in midsummer. In the autumn and winter, the squealing call of the water rail can be heard in the reedbeds, and if you are lucky you will see the flash of azure wings as kingfishers dart over the creek. The creek is included in the Medina Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the internationally designated Ramsar site and Solent and Southampton Water Special Protection Area as it supports overwintering wildfowl, including teal, common snipe and grey heron.

As mentioned above, we opened our newly signed nature trail which leads from the banks of Dodnor Creek and into Dickson’s Copse, a semi-natural ancient woodland. Look out for indicator species such as wood spurge, primrose and violets as well as lords-and-ladies, red campion, common figwort, stinking iris and narrow-leaved lungwort. You might spot an owl – even in daytime. Also look out for woodpeckers and red squirrels. It is home to the common dormouse but it is extremely unlikely you will see one.

Show us some support

We're still very much in love with our new trail packs, and the good news is they are free to all new supporters. These beautiful illustrations were created by Alan Rowe and we have them for 11 of our sites. They offer you lots of information about each location including the best routes, and what special plants and animals live there. You can also buy the packs individually for £7.99. You can buy the packs at our shop and also at the Tourism Office in Newport. Or why not join us? From as little as £3.00 per month you can help look after the Island we all love so much. Visit our website to join today

We would also like to let everyone know that sadly our Faerie Festival & Woodfair will no longer be going ahead this year. Our Chief Faerie is no longer available due to illness. We are however planning on an even bigger and better event next year, so keep your wings in the wardrobe and be ready to dust them off in summer 2019. 
More Gift to Nature news for you next month, so why not forward this one to a friend? New subscribers always make us happy!


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Gift to Nature · Shide Meadows Centre · Shide Road · NEWPORT, Isle Of Wight PO30 1HR · United Kingdom

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