Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

A foray in fungal realms with Alison Pouliot – Friday 14 June 2019

Posted on 13 June, 2019 by Asha

The Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club have once again engaged a great guest speaker for their monthly general meeting.

From the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club blog:

Hygrocybe sp. HYG8103 © Alison Pouliot

Alison has worked as a scientific photographer and ecologist for almost three decades. She has presented over 350 workshops and seminars on environmental and conservation themes in Australia and internationally – more details at alisonpouliot.com    

Throughout history, fungi have confounded humans with their strange appearances, peculiar habitats and dubious connotations. Yet without fungi, life as we know it would be radically different. Fungi regulate the biosphere and support the earth’s ecological functioning. They provide us with food, wine and medicine.

Alison will take us deep into the fungal kingdom, showcasing the aesthetics of these perplexing yet enchanting organisms, and explore some of their natural and cultural curiosities.

The talk is open to both members and visitors – bring along friends and family. The evening will commence from 7.30 pm on Friday 14 June 2019 at the Fellowship Room, behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine VIC (next door to the Castlemaine Art Museum). Tea and snacks available afterwards. There is no cost for attendance.

If you need further information please contact Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club.

 

Sights and sounds from the Camp Out 2019

Posted on 6 June, 2019 by Asha

If you couldn’t make it to the Camp Out on the Mount 2019, we now have available an audio recording of the panel and song from the Sunday morning. Or you may have come along but enjoyed it so much you’d like to listen again! Many thanks to Leonie van Eyk and the Little Habitat Heroes for recording this and putting it together to be shared.

The audio features a Welcome to Country from Uncle Michael Bourke, followed by further welcomes from Connecting Country, Little Habitat Heroes, Harcourt Valley Landcare, and Maree Edwards MP. Local legend George Milford then facilitates a discussion between local experts, including Terri Williams (Bendigo TAFE), Michael Bourke (Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation), Ian Braybrook and Marilyn Bennet (authors of ‘Sarah’s search – a silk odyssey’). They speak about the values of the mount from the perspectives of the environment, culture, and heritage. It finishes with local musician Eva Popov singing her song, ‘Seeds that grow’.

Click here to listen, or click the ‘play’ button below.

Also, please enjoy these lovely photos of some of the kids who went down to the revegetated area at Old Silk Worm Farm after the panel. Leonie and the Little Habitat Heroes helped them find new plants that had grown to the same height as them, to take their photo with!

Harvey and Gulliver Ward with a revegetated Hakea decurrens (photo by Leonie van Eyk)

Ted Macarthy with a revegetated Acacia (photo by Leonie van Eyk)

 

Nestbox monitoring with Muckleford Catchment Landcare – 19 May 2019

Posted on 14 May, 2019 by Asha

Want to find out who’s hiding in the nestboxes in Walmer? Join Muckleford Catchment Landcare this Sunday to look for threatened Brush-tailed Phascogales and other wildlife. They will use a special camera to do a live-stream of what’s inside the nestboxes, and enter data into the Atlas of Living Australia.

When: Sunday 19 May 2019 at 10.00 am
Where: Walmer Conservation Reserve (Muckleford-Walmer Road, Walmer VIC)
More information: call Beth on 0431 219 980

Sugar Gliders in a Connecting Country nestbox (photo by Beth Mellick)

 

Maldon ‘Living Treasures’ walk – 1 June 2019

Posted on 13 May, 2019 by Asha

Maldon Urban Landcare Group (MULGA) is holding a walk around some of Maldon’s ‘Living Treasures’ on Saturday 1 June 2019 at 9.30 am, starting at the rotunda in Maldon Shire Gardens in High St, Maldon VIC. This is your chance to discover some of Maldon’s very old trees, and also learn how to identify local indigenous eucalypts. It will be an easy walk to Bill Woodfull Reserve and Maldon Primary School, followed by morning tea. The walk will be cancelled if it’s raining.

CLICK HERE to learn more about MULGA’s work mapping and protecting Maldon’s ‘Living Treasures’.

For more information, contact MULGA Secretary Bev Phillips by phone (0407 770 350) or email (maldonurbanlandcare@gmail.com)

Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) at Bill Woodfull Reserve, estimated age 530 years (photo by Bev Phillips)

 

Online tools for accessing and sharing biodiversity information – Friday 22 March 2019

Posted on 7 March, 2019 by Ivan

Connecting Country is excited to host an interactive workshop in conjunction with the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation on Friday 22 of March in Castlemaine.

Hooded Robins are a key species for our monitoring program (photo by Geoff Park)

This interactive workshop is part of Connecting Country’s Habitat Health Check project (click here for more information), funded by the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust over the next two years. This project aims to review our long-term monitoring programs, to shift to a monitoring model that empowers our community to conduct robust biodiversity monitoring, and, importantly, to ensure that the data we collect is being shared and used appropriately.

To meet this third goal, we are working with the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) at Federation University Australia. CeRDI has developed many award-winning web-based spatial information and knowledge portals that provide public access to data sets that are often hidden from view. The team at CeRDI have great resources that are relevant to us at Connecting Country and are well worth checking out.

The interactive workshop will cover two important databases in detail:

  • State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams (SWIFFT) – a knowledge sharing network for biodiversity conservation and threatened species
  • Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity (VVB) – a web portal containing spatial information on environmental values, conservation activities and research

At the workshop we will:

  • Showcase projects run by community groups and researchers
  • Participate in an interactive session about sharing and accessing biodiversity data
  • Explore ways to improve knowledge sharing through online platforms
  • Network with other biodiversity organisations and community groups in your region

Please come and join us at the lovely Garden Room within the grounds of Buda Historic Home and Garden for this free workshop. Workshop numbers are limited, so please book.

Workshop: Online tools for accessing and sharing biodiversity information
When: Friday 22 March 2019 from 9.30 am to 2.30 pm
Where: Buda Garden Room, 42 Hunter St, Castlemaine VIC
Bookings: to book online please click here

For further details please contact Ivan Carter at Connecting Country on 03 5472 1594 or email ivan@connectingcountry.org.au

 

Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity workshop

Posted on 21 February, 2019 by Tanya Loos

Connecting Country’s major monitoring project over the next two years is our Habitat Health Check (click here for more information), funded by the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust. This project aims to review our long-term monitoring programs, to shift to a monitoring model that empowers our community to conduct robust biodiversity monitoring, and, importantly, to ensure that the data we collect is being shared and used appropriately.

To meet this third goal, we will be working with Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) at Federation University Australia. CeRDI has developed many award-winning web-based spatial information and knowledge portals that provide public access to data sets that are often hidden from view. The team at CeRDI have two great resources that are relevant to us at Connecting Country and are well worth checking out.

State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams

Firstly, The State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams (SWIFFT) is a network for knowledge sharing and information exchange that supports conservation and management of threatened species, biodiversity and the natural environment across Victoria. You can explore a map displaying the range projects that are part of the network (click here), or see a list of their projects (click here). As part of Habitat Health Check we will be making sure that Connecting Country has a presence on this fantastic website.

Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity

Secondly, CeRDI has developed the Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity (VVB) tool (click here). VVB consolidates access to spatial environmental datasets and information – created and managed by government agencies, organisations, community groups and individuals – into a user friendly and interactive platform. You could use this platform to view, for example, records of mammals or birds near your property. CeRDI is one of many places for sharing and visualising nature data in Victoria – you can see a wonderful infographic on how these interact by clicking here.

Want to know more?  We’ll be running a workshop with CeRDI (Date to be confirmed) to learn about the power of the Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity tool.

More information to come soon – watch this space!

 

Camp Out on the Mount 2019

Posted on 14 February, 2019 by Asha

It’s that time of year again! Details of the sixth Camp Out on the Mount are now available and registrations are open. Please join Connecting Country, Little Habitat Heroes and local Landcare groups to celebrate the beautiful Leanganook (Mount Alexander) and the fabulous work that Landcare and Friends groups do all year round.

This free event is supported by funding from the North Central Catchment Management Authority through the Victorian Landcare Program, as well as Mount Alexander Shire Council, Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests, and Little Habitat Heroes. We will have guest presenters from Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Parks Victoria and Bendigo TAFE, along with local authors and artists. Yummy food will also be provided by the Harcourt Lions Club, Murnong Mummas, and the Camp Out Damper Team.

Camp Out on the Mount 2018 (photo by Tegan Benham-Bannon)

CLICK HERE to visit the booking website

CLICK HERE to download the flier

When: Saturday 6 – Sunday 7 April 2019
Where: Leanganook Camping Ground, Joseph Young Drive, Mount Alexander Regional Park, Faraday VIC
What to bring: Camping gear and supplies, food for Sunday breakfast, gold coin donation or Saturday night BBQ, weather-appropriate clothes, sturdy shoes and sun protection.

Below is a run-down of the Camp Out on the Mount 2019 program. You are more than welcome to attend some or all of the activities. Please let us know through the booking website which activities you plan to attend, as this will help us in planning how many people to cater for.

If you have any questions, please call Asha on (03) 5472 1594 or email asha@connectingcountry.org.au

Please note: activities will be cancelled in the case of severe weather.

SATURDAY 6 APRIL

5:30 pm  Welcome to Country

6:00 pm  Lions Club BBQ and damper (gold coin donation)

7:30 pm  Night walk with Parks Victoria ranger

OVERNIGHT CAMP OUT (BYO camping gear and supplies)

SUNDAY 7 APRIL

9:30 am   Bus down to Old Silk Worm Farm site

10:00 am Welcome and morning tea

10:30 am  Panel of local experts talk about the Mount, including Rebecca Phillips (Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation), Terri Williams (Bendigo TAFE), and Ian Braybrook and Marilyn Bennet (authors of ‘Sarah’s search – A silk odyssey’), facilitated by George Milford

11:30 am  ‘Seeds that grow’ song performed by Eva Popov

11:45 am  ‘Make you own native seed balls’ activity

12:30 pm  Bus back to camp site

Gathered around the fire at the 2018 Camp Out on the Mount (photo by Asha Bannon)

 

Hollows, habitat and nest boxes: design and installation tips

Posted on 2 January, 2019 by Frances

Following Connecting Country’s highly popular nest box workshops during autumn 2018, we’ve compiled some nest box design and installation tips. These tips were compiled by Connecting Country’s Tanya Loos from our workshops with local ecologist and nest box builder, Miles Geldard.

Phascogale in nest box at Welshmans Reef (photo by Jess Lawton)

All animals need to meet their basic needs of something to eat and somewhere to live. Australia’s fauna is particularly reliant on hollows for shelter and breeding – possums, gliders, bats, kookaburras, parrots, treecreepers, reptiles such as geckos and even frogs need hollows.

Hollows are a highly limited resource in today’s Box-Ironbark forests. The sheer scale of clearing and removal of large old trees for timber in our region is almost unbelievable. Trees were logged for railway sleepers, mine shaft infrastructure, baker’s ovens, boilers, heating and construction. Only 15% of the Box-Ironbark forests remain and virtually no old growth patches are left.

Hollows may begin to form in any aged tree, even relatively young trees if the conditions are right. In some countries, woodpeckers create hollows in trees.

Here in Australia, the bark needs to be damaged in some way – either by wind, lightning, fire or by animals (such as galahs) – so that termite or fungal activity may begin to create a hollow. In Box-Ironbark forests, termites do most of the hollow formation, whereas in wet forests it is fungi. Galahs and other parrots love to chew bark. Are they ecosystem engineers creating hollows for the future, or just larrikins sharpening their bills?

Miles has reviewed scientific papers on our local hollow-using fauna’s habitat needs and preferences. He uses this information when designing and installing nest boxes considering internal hollow dimensions, size of entrance, tree type, location on tree and orientation.

Miles suggests installing as many nest boxes as you can manage to install and maintain. Many hollow-dependent animals use multiple nesting sites located across their home range.

For Connecting Country’s full notes with nestbox design and installation tips: click here

The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning also recently published some useful general information about nestbox use (click here) and monitoring (click here).

 

Good riddance to deadly opera house yabby nets

Posted on 12 December, 2018 by Frances

The dams and waterways of central Victoria are perfect for catching yabbies over summer. However, poorly designed yabby nets also catch native wildlife like platypus, turtles and rakali (native water rat). Sadly, these air-breathing animals can become trapped in the nets and drown.

Opera house style yabby nets are believed to kill hundreds of platypus each year. In January 2018, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) recorded that 13 platypus died after drowning in illegally set opera house nets in Victoria. DELWP urged Victorians not to use enclosed traps such as opera house nets, and only use platypus-safe alternatives. Senior Wildlife Investigator Mike Sverns said, ‘Platypus are an iconic Australian species that are declining. To lose 13 platypus in one year is tragic’.

Opera house nets are banned in all waters throughout Victoria from 1 July 2019. Opera house nets have been phased out and replaced with new open-top lift nets, which are more wildlife friendly. Unlike opera house nets, open-top nets feature a 20 x 20 cm gap at their top, which enables air-breathing animals like platypus to escape. The Victorian Fisheries Authority has conducted trials and shown open-top lift nets are very effective yabby catchers.

When announcing the ban, Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said, ‘Opera house nets have been placing our platypus population at risk and so it’s time for us to embrace different fishing gear that will catch just as many yabbies without impacting our precious wildlife’.

Many people who have purchased opera house nets to fish for yabbies are unaware of the risks they present to wildlife, and that these nets have long been banned in Victorian public waters. From 1 July 2019 the ban will extend to include all private waters.

If you have an opera house net you should dispose of it and replace it with an open-top lift net. We recommend dismantling old opera house nets, as even on land they can still entangle terrestrial wildlife, leaving them to a slow and painful death.

Major fishing equipment suppliers and responsible retailers have already removed opera house nets from sale, with some participating in a yabby net swap program. However, a few retailers continue to sell opera house nets despite the wildlife risk and imminent ban.

Image result for opera house net banUnder the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975 there are penalties associated with taking or being in possession of protected wildlife or using prohibited equipment which is up to a maximum of $38,0562, and/or 24 months imprisonment. To report crimes against wildlife you can call Crime Stoppers confidentially on 1800 333 000 or online at https://www.crimestoppersvic.com.au/report-a-crime/

 

Open mic at Castlemaine Field Nats! – 14 December 2018

Posted on 12 December, 2018 by Asha

As per Castlemaine Field Naturalists tradition, their December 2018 general meeting is a chance for any member (or visitor) to make a short presentation. People are encouraged to talk for up to five minutes about a topic related in some way to natural history. It might be photos from a holiday to an exotic location, video footage of birds in your backyard, an analysis of recent weather patterns, or reciting a poem about a forest. It is only limited by your imagination. There will be a projector, PC laptop and screen available for use.

The evening commences from 7.30 pm on Friday 14 December in the Fellowship Room behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine VIC (next door to the Castlemaine Art Museum). Members and visitors of all ages are welcome, and entry is free.

If you’d like, bring along a plate of food to share with everyone afterwards.

For further information on Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club see their website here.

 

Citizen scientists sought – testing new wildlife monitoring technology

Posted on 12 December, 2018 by Asha

Deakin University, in collaboration with Land for Wildlife, is seeking volunteers to participate in a citizen science project called Wildlife to Wellbeing. The project will trial new camera technology to monitor and identify wildlife on properties registered with the Land For Wildlife program in Victoria.

This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a project that tests new video technology developed at Deakin University, and being used for the first time anywhere in the world! The technology enables 24-hour, continual monitoring of wildlife and will capture video recordings of a greater proportion of animals than existing wildlife cameras.

The cameras will operate for up to three months from the time of set up in January/February 2019. Deakin Uni will collect the cameras at the end of the project to reuse in future projects.

To participate, your property needs to have heathy dry forest or grassy dry forest ecological vegetation classes (EVCs). You may qualify if your property is located in central Victoria, within the rough area of Bacchus Marsh – Ballarat – Ararat – Maryborough – Dunolly – Bendigo – Elmore – Rushworth – Seymour – Yea – St Andrews – Whittlesea – Sunbury.

Getting involved

For more information about getting involved, go to http://bit.ly/Wildlife_To_Wellbeing

Or contact Jason Major by email at j.major@deakin.edu.au or phone (during business hours) on 0455 288 309.

 

Butterfly count at Kalimna Park – 25 November 2018

Posted on 7 November, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Join ecologists Elaine Bayes and Karl Just on a walk searching for the endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly, hosted by Friends of Kalimna Park.

An adult butterfly, by Elaine Bayes

The Eltham Copper Butterfly was once distributed around Victoria. Now the largest surviving population of this little butterfly lives in Castlemaine – it could very well be called the Castlemaine Copper Butterfly!

Karl and Elaine will lead us on a guided walk through the bushland at Kalimna Park on the edge of Castlemaine, and show us how to look for the adult butterflies. Friends of Kalimna Park members will explain how to help the habitat of these beautiful insects.

Friends of Kalimna Park’s Annual General Meeting will be at 12.00 – 12.30 pm, followed by a light lunch, with the butterfly walk and talk starting at 1.00 pm.

When: Sunday 25 November at 12.00 noon – 3.00 pm
Where: Kalimna Point Rotunda, Kalimna Road, Castlemaine VIC
RSVP: Numbers are limited – so book now! Contact Tanya Loos, (Monitoring and Engagement Coordinator at Connecting Country) by email at tanya@connectingcountry.org.au or call our office on (03) 5472 1594.

All welcome! Please wear shoes and clothing appropriate for walking outside.

An Eltham Copper butterfly caterpillar being attended by  ants (photo by Elaine Bayes)

Elaine writes:
The reason I am fascinated with Eltham Coppers is because like many of the Blue butterfly family they have a weird and wonderful and totally dependent (obligate) three-way relationship with Notoncus ant species and Sweet Bursaria plants (Bursaria spinosa).  Notoncus ants are nocturnal ants which live underground including at the base of Sweet Bursaria plants. Eltham Coppers lay their eggs at the base of a Sweet Bursaria plant and once hatched the larvae is guided into the ant nest and protected. The larvae overwinters in the nest and ants lead them out to graze at night exclusively on the leaves of Sweet Bursaria. In return, the ants feed on sugars which are excreted by the larvae’s honeydew gland.

 

 

Creatures photo exhibition in Castlemaine

Posted on 17 October, 2018 by Frances

Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests (FOBIF) is holding a ‘Creatures’ photo exhibition. The 24 photos show a small percentage of the many wonderful creatures that inhabit our Box-Ironbark Forests. They were selected from 125 photos submitted by 23 local photographers.

The exhibition runs from 12 October to 29 November 2018 at Togs Place, 58 Lyttleton St, Castlemaine VIC.

Over half of the exhibition photos are of birds and include the critically endangered Swift Parrot, a group of perching Juvenile Scarlet Robins and a Red Wattlebird bathing. The rest show other beautiful local fauna including a macro shot of a Grasshopper Nymph, a watchful Koala and a curious Yellow-footed Antichinus. To see all submitted photos in a FOBIF Flickr album: click here

Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests has been conducting art and photography exhibitions since 1999. They have all had the same purpose: to honour the native forests of the region, continuing the long tradition of artistic involvement with these forests.

This Creatures exhibition aims to give viewers an appreciation of the amazing variety and unique qualities of fauna to be found in our local bushlands. All photos are for sale with proceeds going to Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests. More than one copy of each photo is available for sale.

For inquiries please contact Bronwyn Silver on 0448 751 111.

 

National Waterbug Blitz Workshop

Posted on 27 September, 2018 by Asha

Help monitor the health of waterways in the Mt Alexander region!

North Central Waterwatch, Castlemaine Landcare Group and the Friends of Campbells Creek are working together to engage local community members in monitoring the health of Forest Creek, Barkers Creek and Campbells Creek in the Mt Alexander region. They will be providing an introduction to and training in water quality monitoring and waterbug assessments to those citizen scientists wishing to join the program.

Water quality monitoring looks at the temperature, turbidity, salinity, nutrient and pH levels of water, to helps us understand how conditions change over time. Waterbugs (or macroinvertebrates) are excellent indicators of river health and one way we can measure the success of remediation work over time.

Join these groups, together with John Gooderham (freshwater ecologist and co-author of ‘The Waterbug Book’) for this accredited workshop. You will learn the Agreed Level Taxonomy (ALT) macroinvertebrate method of identifying waterbugs and how to use water quality monitoring equipment. They will demonstrate how we can use this information to assess creek health, and show you how you can be a citizen scientist.

Each year North Central Waterwatch, in partnership with Castlemaine Landcare Group and the Friends of Campbells Creek, will release an Annual River Health Snapshot Report. The report will highlight changes in ecosystem health of these waterways using data collected by citizen scientists.

North Central Waterwatch is hosting a registration day and training session on Campbells Creek – please come along!

Campbells Creek – National Waterbug Blitz
When:
 Tuesday 16 October 2018 from 10.00 am – 2.30 pm
Where: Campbells Creek Swimming Pool Reserve, Midland Highway, Campbells Creek VIC (across the road from Beards Hardware). A map will be provided following registration.
Cost: Free event, lunch is provided.
To register: Click here or call 03 5448 7124
Bring: If you have them, bring gumboots or waders, waterbug ALT guide, magnifying glasses, camera and smart phone.

Download the Waterbug App from your App store prior to the event.

 

Threatened fauna forum and our AGM – 10 November 2018

Posted on 20 September, 2018 by Tanya Loos

A date for your diary! Join Connecting Country for an afternoon/evening of science, food and fun.
Hear from two leading scientists and share a yummy vegetarian meal, incorporating our (famously short) AGM.

All welcome!

Threatened fauna forum and AGM
Saturday 10 November 2018 from 4.00 to 7.00 pm
Campbells Creek Community Centre (45 Elizabeth St, Campbells Creek VIC)

Our presenters are both wonderful supporters of Connecting Country. Andrew helped design both of our long term monitoring programs (woodland birds and nest boxes). Jess has incorporated the Connecting Country nest box data into her PhD on Brush-tailed Phascogales. Jess also assisted enormously in our 2018 nest box check.

Professor Andrew Bennett (La Trobe University & Arthur Rylah Institute): Connecting Country’s woodland bird data – trends and questions  


 

 

 

 

 

PhD candidate Jess Lawton (La Trobe University): Results of Connecting Country’s Brush-tailed Phascogale monitoring 

 

RSVP is essential if you wish to join us for dinner.
For more information and bookings email tanya@connectingcountry.org.au or phone 5472 1594.

To view our flyer for the event: click here

This threatened species forum is generously supported by the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust via our Habitat Health Check project.

 

Learn about landscape connectivity: science and practice

Posted on 18 September, 2018 by Asha

Newstead Landcare are hosting an interesting talk this Thursday.

Dr Jim Radford (Principal Research Fellow from the Research Centre for Future Landscapes, La Trobe University) will talk about the science and practice of connecting landscapes, what works and what we should be aiming for in landscape restoration projects.

Jim will focus on the benefits of revegetation in restoring rural landscapes, guiding principles for landscape restoration, and priorities and guidelines to improve landscape connectivity.

Landscape connectivity: science and practice
Venue: Newstead Community Centre, 9 Lyons Street Newstead VIC
Date: Thursday 20 Sept 2018
Time: 8 pm to 9 pm followed by supper

A gold coin donation would be appreciated to help cover costs.

 

Fabulous fauna photos required for FOBIF exhibition

Posted on 13 September, 2018 by Tanya Loos

The theme of the next Friends of Box Ironbark Forests (FOBIF) photo exhibition is Creatures, and they are seeking entries now.

TOGS Cafe in Castlemaine will host the exhibition in November 2018.

So if you have a favourite photo/s of wildlife in our region send them along to FOBIF (info@fobif.org.au). Get cracking and select your fave pics: the closing date for the submission of photos is  1 October 2018.

Bronwyn Silver has kindly supplied some beautiful photos of local fauna for some inspiration.

For more info and the submission guidelines, see the FOBIF website here.

 

 

Biodiversity Response Planning: a new Connecting Country project

Posted on 13 September, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Biodiversity Response Planning projects announced

BRP planning – photo by DELWP

Over the six months, a diverse array of government, Traditional Owner and community organisations from across Victoria came together to participate in an intense Biodiversity Response Planning process. Connecting Country was one of these organisations!

After a lot of hard work, 89 new projects were just announced by the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio MP, including 85 projects for on-ground biodiversity action worth $33.67 million. These projects are part of the government’s investment to implement Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 and will be delivered by various stakeholders over the next three years.

Connecting Country is excited to announce that our proposed project was selected for funding.

For the full list of successful projects visit: https://www.environment.vic.gov.au/biodiversity/biodiversity-response-planning

Our project: Remnant rescue – restoring woodland bird habitat in central Victoria

Local landscape – photo by Bonnie Humphreys

We know that much of central Victoria’s native woodland has been heavily disturbed by a long history of mining, clearing, woodcutting, grazing, and changes in fire and water regimes. The Box-Ironbark landscape contains provides habitat for many threatened species including the threatened Temperate Woodland Bird Community. Scientific studies demonstrate an alarming acceleration in the decline of most species within this community over recent years. Habitat loss is the single greatest threat to woodland birds, and exacerbates other threats, such as predation by cats and foxes, and prolonged drought. Many of the remaining woodlands lack complexity and are missing the key understorey species that provide food, nesting sites and protection from predators for woodland birds and other animals.

Within the Mount Alexander region, large areas of remnant woodlands and priority habitat exist on private land. Through our work, Connecting Country has identified numerous private landholders with the interest, enthusiasm and capacity to protect and restore woodland habitat on their land, but require guidance and practical assistance.

This project restores habitat for the Temperate Woodland Bird Community by focusing on weeds and rabbit control to promote natural regeneration of native species. We’ll supplement this by strategic revegetation with key missing understorey plants to increase species diversity and community complexity. The project targets 60 ha of priority areas of potential habitat on private land, engaging landholders to develop appropriate management actions tailored for their properties. We’ll also implement weed and rabbit control on 40 ha of complementary areas of public land.

Diamond Firetail – photo by Geoff Park

Connecting Country is proud to oversee the project in collaboration with our project partners: local landholders, Dja Dja Wurrung, Trust for Nature, Parks Victoria and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

 

‘Future-proof your restoration’ seminars

Posted on 6 September, 2018 by Tanya Loos

The recent ‘Future-proof your restoration’  seminars brought the local community together with relevant experts to discuss and share the issues we face in landscape restoration, especially the challenge of our changing climate. Seminar one (Friday 24 August 2018) explored ‘Weeds to watch’. Seminar two (Friday 31 August 2018) addressed ‘Planting for the future’.

Our excellent guest speakers shared a wealth of knowledge and experience, and their expertise was warmly received by an enthusiastic audience at both events.

Thank you to everyone who helped make these seminars successful, including our presenters, the Landcare Steering Group, and volunteers who helped behind the scenes. The seminars were funded by the North Central Catchment Management Authority, through the Victorian Landcare Program, and organised by Asha Bannon, Connecting Country’s Landcare Facilitator.

Everyone gathered to listen to our guests speak about ‘Weeds to watch’

Read on for short summaries of each event, and click on the presentation titles to download a copy of the slides. Keep an eye out for another blog post coming soon, with links to copies of the resources we had available at the events.

Weeds to watch

David started us off by talking about the ecology of weeds, and how they affect us and the environment. He gave useful advice about the most strategic ways to manage weeds effectively. David encouraged us to look at ‘absences’ of weeds on our properties and project areas, to learn to appreciate what we have achieved rather than be overwhelmed by the weeds we have yet to control. John then shared information about grassy weeds – those that are  a problem now, and those that are likely to become a bigger issue with climate change. He stressed the importance of early detection and eradication of new and emerging weeds, plus better practices to reduce their spread in the first place. For details see:

 

Planting for the future

The three presentations were very different and complemented each other beautifully! Jeroen spoke passionately about the urgent need for large-scale landscape restoration, based on his work on Bush Heritage properties in the Wedderburn and St Arnaud area – particularly the Nardoo Hills. Sacha clearly outlined a practical way to approach revegetation that buffers the changing climate, and uses scientific monitoring to guide us in that approach.  Brian took us down to the square metre level as he recounted the tale of the restoration of an urban waterway, and the return of bush birds such as Brown Thornbills to the Merri Creek. Brian also talked about the struggle many of us face when it comes to accepting and adapting to the new approaches needed to future-proof our restoration.

From left to right: Chris from Connecting Country, Jeroen, Sacha, Brian and Asha.

For details see:

 

Baringhup Birds on Farms Workshop – Sunday 9 September

Posted on 22 August, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Join us with Baringhup Landcare and others interested in habitat restoration at Roy and Caroline Lovel’s property to explore the benefits of birds on farms
The Lovels live on a beautiful 60 hectare property at Baringhup, north of Maldon. Over the past 25 years they’ve revegetated much of the property, with a strong emphasis on supporting and sustaining bird habitat.

Research shows that increasing bird populations and diversity enhances productivity of crops, orchards and grazing land. Birds contribute to the long term health of old paddock trees, sustain native vegetation, and bring joy with their colour and song.

  • Roy and Caroline Lovel will introduce you to their property and their motivation and vision.
  • Colin Jennings will speak about his experience as a landholder with responsibility for private land within Bells Swamp, wildlife corridors, and efforts to balance farm production and the environment.
  • Tanya Loos from Connecting Country will take participants on a bird walk visiting the long term bird monitoring site on the Lovel’s property.
  • Chris Timewell, coordinator of the Birds on Farms project at BirdLife Australia, will discuss various approaches to improving woodland bird habitat on rural properties.

White-plumed honeyeaters are commonly seen in River Red Gum paddock trees. In this photo by Geoff Park, a honeyeater adds cobweb to a delicate cup nest in a eucalypt sapling.

 Donations are always welcome, and feel free to bring a plate of nibbles to share.

When: Sunday 9 September from 9:30 am – 2:30 pm
Where: 49 Hayes Rd, Baringhup VIC
This is a free event. We will serve a light lunch of soup and rolls.

What to bring:
*Shoes and clothing appropriate for walking outside in the bush.
*Binoculars if you have them (we’ll also provide some).
RSVP: Bookings and enquiries to Tanya Loos tanya@connectingcountry.org.au or call our office on 5472 1594