2 & 3 August 2014 – Swift Parrot Survey weekend

This weekend of the 2-3 August 2014 is the second of two annual survey weekends across south-eastern Australia for the elusive endangered Swift Parrot and Regent Honeyeater.

If you are keen on your birds, and are looking for some outdoors activity this weekend, why not head out into your favourite patch of bush?  Larger eucalypt trees that are either in flower or with lots of lerps on the leaves are the most likely Swift Parrot sites.  There have been a small number of Swift Parrot sightings in the Muckleford area over the past 3-4 weeks, so they are out and about at the moment.  Regent Honeyeaters are highly unlikely to still occur in the Mount Alexander Region, but there is still a slight chance.

Copies of the datasheets are available for downloading (click here for Word version and click here for PDF version).  Even if you don’t see either of the target species during your searches, please still send this information into Birdlife.  It also helps them to know where birds are not being found, as well as where they are present.

For more information, see Connecting Country’s earlier post on the first Swift Parrot survey weekend for 2014 held in May – click here.  BirdLife Australia received 200 completed survey sheets from May 2014 from across SE Australia, and the results are available on their website (click here).  The Castlemaine Field Nats were not successful in finding any individuals of these species locally at the time.  Chris from Connecting Country also didn’t manage to find any in the Apollo Bay area (while on holiday), but still managed to have a good time searching – Bassian Thrush and Olive Whistlers were the highlights of birds seen!

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Frost, but only in the beginning!

2014-07-20-CC-Community-Planting-Day-2-046A chilly start to Sunday’s (July 20th 2014) Connecting Country Community Planting Day gave way to a blue skies and companionable chatter as a group of committee, staff and volunteers planted 300 indigenous tree and shrub seedlings on the property of local Elphinstone landholder Mark Walters.  As part of his project with Connecting Country, Mr Walters is planting and protecting a wildlife habitat corridor almost 3 km in length, which largely runs parallel to the existing roadside woodland.  This wildlife corridor is being created using a mix of targeted tubestock plantings and broad-scale direct seeding.  It will be exciting to watch birds and other animals moving into this area over time.

A warm lunch and a cuppa gave sustenance after hard work and cheer contributed by the group of around 20 adults and children. Project Coordinator Jarrod Coote then spoke about the property, the value of the project and the work that the Connecting Country Works crew do on country which may include fencing, pest plant and animal control, direct seeding and of course planting native species.


Many thanks again to those who came along and made the morning enjoyable for all.

If you are a landholder in the Mount Alexander Shire and surrounds, and are interested in support for a project on your property, expressions of interest can be made by contacting Jarrod, Bonnie and Tanya by email (jarrod@connectingcountry.org.au) or by calling the office (03 5472 1594).  If your property is eligible, support from Connecting Country could include the development of site management plans, technical advice, help from the works crew and financial assistance.

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FTLA Newsletter

farm-tree-and-landcareThe latest Farm Tree & Landcare Association (FTLA) newsletter is now available and can be downloaded by clicking on the logo above. This issue includes information on National Landcare Programme Consultations, the 2014 National Landcare Conference, a Feral Photos competition and a range of environmental events, awards and funding opportunities.

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27 July 2014 – Cactus Control Field Day

The nextwheel-cactus Cactus Community Field Day will be held on Sunday 27 July.  As usual the day will start at 10.30 am and finish with a sausage sizzle.

The venue will be a property at the end of Whitlocks Road which is the extension of South Parkins Reef Road. From Maldon follow the signs from the end of Parkins Reef Road. The site is west of the intersection of Whitlocks and Green Hill Bridge Roads. Click here for flyer with a map.

Sunday promises to be a great winter’s day. Everyone is welcome.

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Dahl Trust Small Grants Program

logoThe Bjarne K Dahl Trust operates an annual Small Grants Program focused on the conservation of eucalypts and the education of the public in areas of conservation, propagation, cultural, and historical significance in relation to eucalypts throughout Australia. Connecting Country ran two popular series of Eucalypt Identification Workshops funded through the Dahl Trust in 2011 and 2012.

Round two of the 2014 Small Grants Program is open from Monday 21st July until Monday 1st September.

Grants will be capped at $15,000 and will generally be made for up to a 12-month period – timeframes may be flexible depending on grantseekers needs and the approval of the Board of Managing Trustees. You can find all the grant information on the Dahl Trust website.

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27 July 2014 – Bees, Bees and More Bees in Baynton!

Honey bees are a great source of fascination for most people. And the more you know about them, the more fascinating they become. But what about those other bees in our local environment: the native bees that have been here since long before honey bees arrived some 180 years ago?

Beekeepers use smoke to quieten honey bees before working on the hive.

Beekeepers use smoke to quieten honey bees before working on the hive.

Most of us know next to nothing about our native bees: how many varieties are there, what they look like, what they feed on, where they nest, whether they are solitary or colony-forming and whether or not they sting.

On Sunday 27th July, 2.00pm to 4.30 pm, Baynton Sidonia Landcare group is offering an afternoon of information about Bees – both European Honey Bees and Native Bees.

There will be two presenters. Local apiarist, Graham Connell of Langley, will be outlining the life of Honey Bees and the current threats to their future. “Honey bees are extraordinary creatures with very complex lives.  They contribute enormously to the production of our food through pollination but are under serious threat at the moment.  At this seminar we will discuss some of the ways people can help them to survive.” Continue reading

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Birdwatching training dates announced

August iphone 2013 283

Hi everyone! I wanted to introduce myself as the newest staff member at Connecting Country – the Habitat for Bush Birds Project Coordinator.  My name is Tanya, and I live just beyond the southern limits of the Mount Alexander shire, on the outskirts of the Wombat Forest. Cold weather is no deterrent to birdwatching, and here you can see me in my typical woolly winter garb.

I have been developing a calendar of events for the Habitat for Bush Birds project that that includes birdwatching training for beginners and intermediate birdwatchers.  I am pleased to announce that the dates are set!

Nature-based events in this region are very popular, and workshops of this kind are unfortunately limited to thirty participants. I encourage you to book for either workshop, rather than both, as more training events will be offered next year.

The first workshop is recommended for beginning birdwatchers who describe birds this way: “It was small, with yellow on it”. If you are familiar with the general bird groups such as whistlers, pardalotes, thornbills, finches; then the intermediate workshop is for you.  If you are not sure – feel free to give me a call or an email!

Birdwatching for absolute beginners
Date: Sat 2nd August 2014
Location and time: Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Tea Rooms  2-4pm

Just starting out? This workshop is a practical exploration of the common and highly visible species and how to identify them. A big focus on garden birds means you can practice your skills at home. I will be presenting this workshop, and I look forward to sharing with you the easy enjoyment of birdwatching for pleasure and conservation.

Intermediate birdwatching skills
Date: Sat 16th August 2014
Location and time: To be confirmed.

Geoff Park, naturalist and photographer from the Natural Newstead blog provides tips and hints for identifying LBB’s ( or little brown birds), the males and females of commonly seen species and some of the trickier local birds.

The Habitat for Bush Birds project also has a strong focus on monitoring – with the aim of locating where threatened birds are present – and absent – over the whole Mount Alexander region.  We have dubbed the focal species the feathered five. Soon to feature on the blog: dates of monitoring excursions later in the year.

To find out more, or book a place, contact Tanya Loos at tanya@connectingcountry.org.au, or call 5472 1594.

Some background info on the Habitat for Bush Birds project: helping the feathered five Continue reading

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What drives a Landcare member?

Landcare Link-ups began in 2013 as way to bring Landcare members from around the Mount Alexander Region together to share experiences and ideas.

Landcare Link-up July 2014

Landcare Link-up July 2014, Chewton Community Centre

On Thursday 3rd July 2014, representatives from 13 local Landcare and Friends Of groups met in Chewton for Connecting Country’s 3rd Landcare Link-up event. Amongst some more practical topics on conversation, the recent Link-up included a bit of soul searching.

Participants had a go at finishing the sentence “I am a Landcare member because…”. Answers were pinned to one of 50 photographs of Landcare groups in action, which were displayed on the night.

So why are people Landcare members? Here are some  answers from the Link-up.

I am a Landcare member because…

 “I like the regular commitment of working on things I think are important and that I like doing.”

“You learn, you laugh and work in the open air with great people and know you are leaving a heritage for future generations.”

“I believe in soils so I see Landcare as a vehicle to improve soils.”

“I want to leave my property & those around it in better condition than when I arrived. It’s also a great way to get involved in the local community!”

“Looking after the land is in my blood.”

“The land was here before me and will be here after me and is ours to look after.”

“Our group gives us a community to work with & strength to make a difference.”

Continue reading

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Regional Landcare Coordinator position advertised

The North Central CMA is currently looking for a new Regional Landcare Coordinator.

If you or someone you know might be interested in applying for this position, the job advertisement and description can be found on the NCCMA website. Applications close at 5pm on 4 August 2014.  You can also find out more about the position from Brad Drust, Exec Manager of Loddon and Avoca Catchments (phone: 5440 1812 email: Brad.Drust@nccma.vic.gov.au)

Jodie Odgers, outgoing Regional Landcare Coordinator at North Central CMA

Jodie Odgers, outgoing Regional Landcare Coordinator at North Central CMA

The outgoing coordinator Jodie Odgers has accepted the Program Manager position at the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.

Jodie has been the North Central’s Regional Landcare Coordinator for the past 4 years. Jodie was always very easy to work with, very helpful, and above all passionate about Landcare and community. The Landcare community across the Mount Alexander Region will miss her!


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27 July 2014 – Children’s Landcare activity in Woodend


Krista and Sam live on the edge of Woodend with their two children Banjo and Daisy.

Woodend Children’s Festival Inc. is a community-based, non-profit organisation that seeks to inspire, engage and educate children through providing access and exposure to many and varied art forms. The inaugural festival to be staged on Sunday 27 July 2014.

As part of the festival, a Landcare activity Best Nest, is being led by Krista Patterson-Majoor and Sam Ford. (Many of you will know of Krista through her roles with Connecting Country.) The following description of Best Nest is from the festival program:

Continue reading

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