Island Life Magazine Ltd December 2008/January 2009 - Page 69

COUNTRYSIDE, WILDLIFE & FARMING life Barking Foxes Mistletoe Spurge Laurel Foxes communicate in many ways, facial expressions, body language and more commonly heard, barking or screaming. Vixens come onto heat throughout December and January, for only a very short period, one to six days. During this time a loud courtship takes place between them. It can be described as a loud screeching and often wakes the dog up during the night! Famous for many works party’s indiscretions, mistletoe is our only native white berry! It is a plant parasite making its home on other trees. To be correct, and without getting too technical, they are only hemi-parasites as most have green leaves and can photosynthesise. Frequently spread by birds, they will host on most tree species, the commonest being apple, with poplar and lime being next on the list. A tropical looking plant, found growing in dry woodlands and hedge banks, on chalk and limestone. Flowering from January to March, the flowers which are highly scented are yellowish-green in tight clusters just below the top of the stem. These are followed by black, shiny berries, that are edible to birds, such as green finches but very POISONOUS to humans. County Show Following a successful Agricultural Show held at Northwood show ground in July this year the Royal Isle of Wight Agricultural Society have granted bursaries to eight Island students studying at Sparsholt Agricultural College. At a ceremony at Lynn Farm by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Brown, John Reynolds, president and Sharon Peach, chairman of the society handed over cheques to help the students with their ongoing costs. The society, have run the bursary scheme for a number of years and during that time have assisted numerous students from the Island. www.riwas.org.uk Free farm slope maps for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones Farmers need ‘risk maps’ of land steeper than 12° (about 21% or 1 in 5) for the new Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations. IW Land Care can provide a free, accurate slope map, thanks to software and data from the Environment Agency. But hurry – funding runs out on New Year’s Eve! Send a plan showing field boundaries to Rowan Adams, Island 2000, Venture Quays, East Cowes, PO32 6EZ, or email rowan@island2000.org.uk What no Dormice? In October, staff and volunteers, checked 480 dormouse nest boxes in Briddlesford Woods. The total number of dormice recorded was 27. This is noticeably less than last year. After checking the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme data, we realised it is markedly higher than many other monitoring sites around the country, some of which have failed to find any dormice in nest boxes probably due to the wet summer we have had. If you are interested in getting involved, please call Laura on 020 7498 4533 or email laura@ptes.org The Island's new funky radio station www.wightfm.com 69