Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Birdata workshop – 23 June 2019

Posted on 6 June, 2019 by Jess

BirdLife Castlemaine District and Connecting Country are partnering to bring you a new workshop on how to use the Birdata app to record bird surveys on your smartphone (both Android and iPhone). No experience is required. We’ll provide training on how to do a 20 minute – 2 hectare search using your phone.

Surveys can also be recorded on paper if necessary. However, if you have a smartphone, using the Birdata app is quick and easy, and saves time on data entry.

We often encounter Eastern Yellow Robins during bird surveys (photo by Jane Rusden)

Here’s what we’ll cover at the workshop:

  • What is a 2 ha area count and how do you do it.
  • How to use Birdata and record a survey.
  • Substantial afternoon tea!
  • Putting theory into practice by completing a survey in the field.


When:
Sunday 23 June 2019 at 1:00 pm

Where: Tea Room, Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, Downes Rd, Castlemaine VIC

Registration: Please email castlemaine@birdlife.org.au to register. That way we can provide plenty of afternoon tea and Birdata trainers.

 

Birds on Farms – volunteering opportunity

Posted on 30 May, 2019 by Ivan

BirdLife Australia’s Woodland Birds team is seeking the support of volunteer birdwatchers for its Birds on Farms program. This citizen-science monitoring program aims to learn more about how birds are using a variety of habitats on private rural properties by conducting quarterly 20 minute – 2 hectare surveys.

There are currently two properties within the area encompassed by BirdLife Castlemaine where survey plots have been established on landholders’ properties, but do not have an assigned birdwatcher (or birdwatchers). One is at Maldon with three survey plots, and another near Guildford with four survey plots.

If you and/or a small group of birdwatching friends are potentially interested in becoming the volunteer birdwatcher for one or both of these properties, please contact Caroline Wilson and Chris Timewell (woodlandbirds@birdlife.org.au) at BirdLife Australia to discuss this opportunity.

Background information about the Birds on Farms program is available on the BirdLife Australia website – click here

Musk Lorikeet in full colors (photo by Geoff Park)

 

Desperate plight of the Orange-bellied Parrot – 8 May 2019

Posted on 16 April, 2019 by Frances

Bendigo Field Naturalists Club and Snowgum Press Films are presenting a special screening of the documentary ‘The Desperate Plight of the Orange-bellied Parrot’, a film by David Neilson on Wednesday 8 May 2019 in Bendigo, Victoria

The Orange-bellied Parrot migrates between the Australian mainland and Tasmania, spending summer breeding in Tasmania and winter in coastal Victoria and South Australia. It is one of Australia’s most threatened species, with less than 50 parrots thought to exist in the wild. Like many of our local birds, threats include habitat loss and modification, predation by cats and foxes and weeds, as well as collisions with structures, and inbreeding.

This is a fundraising event for the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot. All funds raised go to support conservation efforts. Tickets are $15 (children free). Numbers are limited so register now to secure a seat. A special ‘meet the film-maker’ session and nature photography discussion is available prior to the screening ($20).

For further information please see the flyer – click here.

To book your seat contact Bendigo Field Naturalists Club via their website (http://www.bendigofieldnaturalists.asn.au) or email (info@bendigofieldnaturalsts.asn.au).

To find out what is being done to preserve the habitat and remaining populations of the Orange-bellied Parrot, please visit the Birdlife Australia website by clicking here

 

Male Orange-bellied Parrot . Photo: Birdlife Australia

Two male Orange-bellied Parrots. Photo: Birdlife Australia

 

 

 

New factsheets offer strategies for restoring urban waterways

Posted on 9 April, 2019 by Ivan

Landcare groups have worked hard to help restore and revegetate many of our urban waterways within the Shire of Mount Alexander of central Victoria. The Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities has just released a new product designed to walk practitioners through the nine components of repairing or designing a living stream site on a flowing urban waterway, and to support them in working out which actions to take.

The 13 factsheets about improving the ecological function of urban waterways cover nine different ecological components of flowing waterways: flow, geomorphology, riparian, connectivity (longitudinal, lateral, vertical), water quality (nutrients, physico-chemistry including toxicants) and biota. Most components have two factsheets—one for what to do at the site scale and the other for what to do at the catchment scale—so practitioners have more context and can work at both spatial scales.

How to restore the ecological function of urban waterways

Each factsheet gives the practitioner strategies to follow and the situations where the strategy will be most suitable and effective. Actions, rationales, and the relevant technical guidelines to follow are outlined for each strategy, as are clear diagrams and a list of useful supporting documents. The factsheets aren’t prescriptive but provide a useful resource for better understanding the environmental factors and urban constraints at a restoration site, and how each might be addressed.

The urban waterways of Castlemaine have seen great improvements over the years, and may benefit further from the implementation of these useful resources. These factsheets provide a practical starting point and an instructive resource for restoring urban waterway sites, such as a creek or stream channel, a constructed drain, a lowland river or a living stream built in a new urban development.

For more information or to download the factsheets, please click here

 

 

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

 

Snake and reptile workshop success

Posted on 24 January, 2019 by Tanya Loos

The weather was kind to us at our snake workshop on Saturday 19 January 2019 – sunny but not too hot. Over fifty participants were able to give the presenter and his reptiles their full attention. The event was run by Connecting Country in partnership with Muckleford Catchment Landcare, and supported by funding from North Central Catchment Management Authority.

Stu from Snakehandler gave us a fascinating full hour presentation, including plenty of myth busting, introduction to different snake species and their ecology, and hints on snake safety and snake bite first aid. We all learned so much from Stu! Stu has many years of experience and a great love for snakes and other reptiles. He helped us understand the importance of snakes to our local ecosystems, why snakes behave the way they do, and how we can all live safely with snakes. Frances took notes during Stu’s talk, which are well worth a read here.

After the presentation, Stu introduced us to some real live reptiles! Those who wished were able to hold a very sweet Eastern Bearded Dragon, a Common Blue-tongue Lizard and a large Murray Darling Carpet Python, and also see some local venomous snakes housed in special terrariums. All species were native to central or northern Victoria. All the animals used for the presentations are selected for their temperament and ability to handle stress, and will be rested for weeks before being used again, as Stu and his team have plenty of reptiles.

Many thanks to Stu from Snakehandler, Jacqui for organising this wonderful event, and to all those that assisted with set-up and pack-up. Special thanks to the Mellick-Cooper family who hosted the event on their beautiful property, and to Muckleford Catchment Landcare for the delicious morning tea. We hope all participants enjoyed the workshop as much as we did!

Please enjoy this gallery of photos from the day – scroll through by hovering your mouse on the right of the picture.

 

A threatened butterfly gets a lot of love in Kalimna Park

Posted on 29 November, 2018 by Tanya Loos

On Sunday 25 November, 2018 attendees at our Kalimna Park Butterfly Count were delighted to observe two Eltham Copper Butterflies flying and then perching on native shrubs such as Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa) and Rough Wattle (Acacia aspera).

The count was led by two Eltham Copper Butterfly enthusiasts, ecologists Elaine Bayes and Karl Just. Elaine and Karl have a long association with this tiny threatened butterfly, and the afternoon involved a very informative discussion about the ecology, life history, and threats facing the butterflies. We also went out butterfly-spotting of course!

This naturally deceased butterfly was found in Rhyll Plant’s bird bath in nearby Happy Valley. We thought it could be an ECB – but it is actually a closely related Grassland or Chequered Copper Lucia limbaria!

The Kalimna Park population of Eltham Copper Butterfly (ECB) is quite possibly the largest left in the state, but it is also not as well studied as other populations. Elaine and Karl are very keen to find volunteers who are willing to scour the park for adult ECBs.

The next butterfly count will be held on Saturday 12 January, 2019 between 1pm and 3 pm at Kalimna Park. Connecting Country will send out a blog post with all the details in early 2019. A subsequent count will be held on Saturday 16 February  – so pop those dates in your new diary 🙂

We were all fascinated by the complex life history of the ECB and this butterfly’s relationship with the Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa) and a species of ant. Elaine wrote a great article about this interrelationship in 2016 for one of our early Nature News – click here.

The Eltham Copper Butterfly has rightly received a lot of attention in our region over the years -Connecting Country is proud to take part in the story and work with the people who care for the butterfly in the coming months.

Please enjoy this gallery of photos from the Butterfly Count. Click on the arrow on the right to move through the pictures.

 

 

 

Science, fun and fine food: our 2018 AGM and Threatened Species Forum!

Posted on 15 November, 2018 by Tanya Loos

On Saturday 10 November 2018, some 60 people gathered at Campbells Creek Community Centre to enjoy an afternoon of science,  fun and delicious food. The event combined Connecting Country’s Annual General Meeting for the 2017-2018 year with a threatened species forum to launch our new ‘Habitat health check’ project. We celebrated the findings and achievements of Connecting Country’s long term monitoring programs with presentations by two very special scientists who directly support these programs: Professor Andrew Bennett and PhD Candidate Jess Lawton.

We would like to thank the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust for generously supporting ‘Habitat health check’, and to our presenters and all the committee members, staff and volunteers who assisted with the event.

Our AGM was short and sweet, and all but one of our committee members have re-elected for another year! The hard-working Connecting Country committee must be thanked for their considerable contribution to our organisation.

Elected members of Connecting Country’s 2018-19 committee of management are:
President:                  Brendan Sydes
Vice President:         Saide Gray
Treasurer:                  Max Kay
Secretary:                  Marie Jones
Ordinary member:    Karoline Klein
Ordinary member:    Malcolm Trainor
Ordinary member:    Christine Brooke

For minutes from the AGM and forum, please click here. A more detailed review of Andrew and Jess’ presentations will be shared next week.

If you would like a copy of our Annual Report for 2017-18, click here. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the report (especially Jacqui for making it look beautiful).

Please enjoy this gallery of some of the smiling faces at our AGM and Threatened Species Forum. (Photos by Tanya Loos and Frances Howe.)

 

 

 

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.

 

 

AGM update: Can revegetation reverse the decline of woodland birds in rural landscapes?

Posted on 25 October, 2018 by Tanya Loos

STOP PRESS! UPDATE ON OUR THREATENED SPECIES FORUM AND AGM!

In a slight variation to Connecting Country’s program for our event on 10 November 2018, our esteemed guest speaker Professor Andrew Bennett has now confirmed he will speak on:

Can revegetation reverse the decline of woodland birds in rural landscapes?’

Andrew will talk about a study of revegetation and birds in south-western Victoria (Hamilton area) that has results that may be relevant to our local revegetation work.

We’re very excited to hear this talk, as Connecting Country’s long-term bird monitoring results suggest that the answer is YES. Recent statistical analysis of our data by Dr Kerryn Herman at BirdLife Australia found that restoration sites support a high diversity of bird species (second only to gully or fertile sites). Furthermore, these restoration sites have the highest number of individual birds recorded out of all of our sites.

We’ll also hear PhD candidate Jess Lawton present her recent research on the Brush-tailed Phascogale. The updated program flier can be found here.

Beautifully revegetated bushland by Campbells Creek provides a haven for bush birds, thanks to Friends of Campbells Creek


Join our nature share

Following the popularity of our nature quiz earlier this year, we’ve planned another fun activity. This time, we ask everyone to bring along a small item of nature that they love or inspires them. It could be an object such as a feather, or an animal-themed shirt, or an artwork of some kind. Each table then decides on which item to share with the wider group. It’s a bit of fun – participation is encouraged rather than mandatory!

AGM formalities

Our annual general meeting (AGM) and threatened species forum will be held at Campbells Creek Community Centre (45 Elizabeth St, Campbells Creek VIC) from 4.00 pm – 7.00 pm, with AGM formalities taking place from 4.00 – 4.30 pm. For a copy of our agenda click here.

If you are a Connecting Country member, you are:

  • Entitled to vote on any and all relevant agenda items. Proxy forms are available if you are unable to attend the AGM, but still wish to vote. These must be received at least 24 hours before the AGM is held.
  • Able to nominate to join the Connecting Country committee. If you are interested in applying to join the committee, you are encouraged to contact the current president – Brendan Sydes – to talk about what is involved in being on the committee and the opportunities available (email: president@connectingcountry.org.au). A copy of the committee nomination form may be downloaded here.

Please contact Margaret (margaret@connectingcountry.org.au) if you are unsure if you are a member, if you’d like a proxy form, or if you’d like a copy of the 2017 AGM minutes or 2017-18 financial statements to read before the meeting.

RSVP

To ensure sufficient catering and seating, please RSVP by email to margaret@connectingcountry.org.au or call the Connecting Country team on 5472 1594.

All are welcome! Membership forms will be available if you’re not already a member of Connecting Country but would like to join.

 

 

Baringhup Birds on Farms workshop – a great partnership event

Posted on 13 September, 2018 by Tanya Loos

On 9 September 2018 about forty people gathered on a beautiful property in Baringhup to learn about Birds on Farms. The day was a joint workshop by Connecting Country and Baringhup Landcare, and the participants ranged from Connecting Country regular workshop enthusiasts, bird survey volunteers, farmers from in and around the Baringhup area and Landcare members.

Two bird surveys were conducted down on the bird survey area. Curiously each survey recorded 13 birds, though each time the species composition was different! The surveys may be seen here and here. A few new species were recorded on the day – including the Grey Fantail.

Many thanks to Roy and Caroline Lovel for being such wonderful hosts, and all the many helpers on the day, especially Jackie Brown who helped Roy wash up all the bowls and cups!

Attendee Liz Burns wrote this wonderful summary of the day. Thanks Liz!

 Birds On Farms workshop

As a long-term attender of Connecting Country’s field days, it was a pleasure to take up Tanya’s request for someone to write up today’s events. In fact, I could write a book with all the detailed notes that I’ve taken over the years.

As usual, this one hit the mark and maintained the usual high standard.

As a full-time biological farmer who relies upon our native birds for pest control and even some pollination services, and a keen lifelong observer of all the complex relationships in nature, this is a subject dear to my heart. It was even more heartening to meet other like-minded farmers with the added bonus of passionate  protectors of very old trees.

 To read Liz’s detailed notes of the speakers’ presentations click Birds-On-Farms-Field-Day-write-up

After lunch we did separate farm and birds walks: Roy led a group up to the top of the property, and Tanya and Chris conducted a bird survey on a lower restoration area.

I would like to see the Connecting Country model rolled out across the State, as the best value for money blending of agriculture, environment and Indigenous history, especially as 70% of the State is in private hands and the State does not manage Crown Land very well (in my opinion). If farmers could be helped with managing their land, incorporating environmental and cultural values, we could maximise biodiversity and future food production with a three-way partnership with farmers, environmentalists and Traditional owners.

As usual, the catering, the company and weather was of the highest standard.

Grateful thanks must go to Connecting Country and all involved, but in particular Tanya Loos for yet another fascinating and informative day.

Liz Burns, Trewella Farm, Musk

Please scroll through the following gallery of photos from the day.

 

 

‘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:

 

Castlemaine Bird Walks – a recommended resource

Posted on 29 August, 2018 by Tanya Loos

In April 2018, local birder and photographer Damian Kelly published the wonderful book Castlemaine Bird Walks: A guide to walks and birds in the Castlemaine district. The book has been warmly received by the local community, selling over 500 copies, and is now in its third reprint.

As our supporters know, we’re very much into birds here at Connecting Country. Hence we thought it timely to review this useful resource for our bird survey volunteers, or anyone interested in local birds.

Castlemaine Bird Walks is a comprehensive guide to walking and birding in the Castlemaine district. There are over 200 pages covering more than 40 walking sites plus a section on ephemeral swamps. For each walk, information includes a site description, how to get there, walking guide, distance and difficulty, detailed map, likely birds, and site notes.

The Forest Creek at Golden Point site (on page 35) has been surveyed four times a year since 2010 as part of Connecting Country’s long term monitoring program, so I’m very familiar with the site and the birds there. It was great to read the history of the site, as well as accurate descriptions of the habitat of this wonderfully revegetated site. I was thrilled to see a photo of the Olive Whistler at the site, as Jane Rusden and I spotted that highly unusual sighting!

The photos are very natural and show birds as you would see them in the field, with a lot of habitat context and natural light, providing a useful identification tool. Damian has used these to great effect in a section called ‘Birds and how to identify them’. Thornbills, robins, and honeyeaters are covered comprehensively. 

This is a book written by a birdwatcher for birdwatchers! The section ‘Bird watching – tricks of the trade’ provides some helpful hints about time of day, weather, and other phenomena such as flowering and thermals.

What about data?! I was glad to see the book covers data collection in two sections: ‘Contributing to our knowledge of birds’ and ‘Record keeping’. Here Damian lists eBird and Birdata as useful tools, and highlights the benefits of collecting data for conservation purposes. On the companion website to the book, the ins and outs of exploring and recording data on both these sites is described clearly. 

This wonderful photo of a Rufous Whistler cooling off on a hot day is on Damian’s excellent companion website.

A short and informative section on ‘Gardens and birds’ is at the end of the book, which Damian has updated and extended on the companion website

I have not had a chance to test-run any of the walks, but they look accurate and easy to interpret. Local birder Chris Timewell played a considerable role in assisting Damian in the site selection and creation of the maps.

Castlemaine Bird Walks also has an ‘accessibility guide’, which describes in detail which walks are suitable for those with limited mobility, or who use an electric scooter.

 

Damian has already been a walk leader for Friends of Box Ironbark Forests on a very enjoyable outing to Gower. 

In short, whether you are an experienced birdwatcher, or a total beginner this book is ideal. It is chock-full of helpful hints, beautifully illustrated and is an essential item for your bookshelf. For those electronically minded, subscribe to the blog of the Castlemaine bird walks companion website for updates and more great photos.

The book is available at Stonemans Bookroom, and the Castlemaine Visitors Centre, as well as online via this link.

Congratulations to Damian for this wonderful contribution to the birding community of Castlemaine!

 

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

 

 

Small bush bird habitat created at Bradford!

Posted on 30 July, 2018 by Tanya Loos

What a difference a couple of years makes! Last Thursday, 26 July 2018, Bonnie, Frances and Tanya had the great pleasure of visiting Kerri Peacoulakis’ property in Bradford to marvel at the growth of native plant species at their direct seeding site, and also chat about bird surveying. Below is a photo of part of the site taken in September 2016, about one year after direct seeding.

Direct seeding site – photo taken 6 September 2016

Below is the same site, taken in the same direction. Note the large eucalypt with the wide crown in the left hand side of the photo.

The same site taken July 26, 2018.

The site was direct seeded in 2015, as part of Connecting Country’s Habitat for Bush Birds project. It is amazing to think that there are many tiny young plants fighting for survival under all the prolific capeweed in the first photo! The site is a bird survey site called NW-PR-03, a northwest paddock revegetation site.  The direct seeding is even more successful looking in the other direction, towards the Blue Hills area.


In the above photo, Bonnie is using a trundle wheel and a counter to carry out a direct seeding success count. These counts measure how many plants have grown, giving a standard measure of trees/shrubs per metre count. This number is comparable from site to site, and enables us here at Connecting Country to monitor the growth of our direct seeding from year to year.

The plant species in the direct seeding included a mix of local wattles, eucalypts, she-oaks, hop bush, and hakeas.

Kerri is taking on the bird survey site, by surveying the site four times per year. During our visit, we conducted a 20 minute 2 hectare count, with Kerri entering the data on her Birdata app on her smartphone. So simple! During the survey, we saw many open country species such as Red-rumped parrots, Welcome swallows and Australian magpies. Kerri said that she had observed Superb fairy-wrens on the site – a true mark of success as these little birds are NEVER recorded in a bare, open paddock! Well done Kerri and also her partner Tusker and family for a fantastic project!

Kerri, Jane ( Kerri’s mum in-law,) Bonnie and Tanya, photo by Frances.

 

Nest box workshop # 2 – Sunday 17 June 2018

Posted on 6 June, 2018 by Tanya Loos

If you already own nest boxes, or want to set some up on your property, come along to a workshop with nestbox builder and naturalist Miles Geldard. Our nest box workshop in May was extremely popular, so we are holding another similar event, but at a different location.

This workshop will be held at a beautiful Trust for Nature property at Sedgwick, north of Castlemaine. Miles Geldard will shares his extensive knowledge on the design, construction, installation and monitoring of nest boxes for wildlife. Landholder Tamsin Byrne, and Connecting Country’s Tanya Loos, will also talk briefly about habitat restoration and local birdlife. The event includes a light lunch, indoor presentation and nestbox check using a special camera.

Five sugar gliders look at the camera from within a nestbox. Photo by Max Schlachter.

 

Sunday 17 June 2018 from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm

Please RSVP, including any dietary requirements, by Wednesday 13 June to Tanya Loos by email (tanya@connectingcountry.org.au) or phone (03 5472 1594).

Attendance is free. We also have a very special door prize for a lucky attendee!

A map to the workshop location will be provided when you book.

As this is a partly outdoor event, please dress warmly, and wear shoes and clothing appropriate for walking in the bush. In the event of severe weather we will hold the workshop inside.

 

 

Joint Management Plan for the Dja Dja Wurrung Parks: provide feedback

Posted on 30 May, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Community groups and individuals are invited to take part in community consultation regarding a joint management plan for six parks in Central Victoria.

From the Parks Victoria website:

Parks Victoria has a vision to manage all parks in their surrounding landscapes, in partnership with Traditional Owners, and other government and non-government organisations and community groups. Parks Victoria is currently supporting the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board to involve the community in developing a plan for the joint management of the six Dja Dja Wurrung Parks held by the Dja Dja Wurrung People as Aboriginal Title.

The Draft Joint Management Plan for the Dja Dja Wurrung Parks covers the following parks:

  • Greater Bendigo National Park
  • Hepburn Regional Park
  • Paddys Ranges State Park
  • Kara Kara National Park
  • Kooyoora State Park
  • Wehla Nature Conservation Reserve

Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owners meeting on Country in 2017 to participate in the planning for the Dja Dja Wurrung Parks

It is expected that this joint planning process will extend to other parks within the Mount Alexander Shire in the future.

To read the plan, make a submission, or access an online survey about the plan, click here: Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board

All submissions must be made by 19 June 2018.

 

Come frogging for World Environment Day – 5 June 2018

Posted on 23 May, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Celebrate World Environment Day 2018 with local ecologist Karl Just and Connecting Country on a special evening ‘frogging’ workshop.  

Karl Just will share his extensive knowledge of our local frogs, and help participants learn how to identify frogs by their calls, and by sight. The evening will also cover how we can look after frogs and their habitat. The workshop is free, and includes hot drinks and snacks and a frog identification guide.

A Spotted Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis) photographed by Peter Robertson

When: Tuesday 5 June 2018 from 4:30 to 7:30 pm

Where: Meet out the front of Newstead Community Centre (9 Lyons St, Newstead VIC) and carpool to a private property in Strangways

What to bring: Sturdy shoes, long pants, warm and weather-appropriate clothes, torch (as it will be dark around 5:30 pm)

The workshop will be strictly limited to fifteen participants so make sure you book!

RSVP: to Asha by Monday 4 June to asha@connectingcountry.org.au

Enquiries: (03) 5472 1594

 

Nestbox workshop – a sweet success!

Posted on 17 May, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Connecting Country’s Nestboxes for Wildlife workshop on Sunday 6 May 2018 was blessed with fine weather, a great presenter, and sightings of a little sugar glider family via our special nestbox camera. The workshop was held at a local Trust for Nature property owned by Jan Hall, a long-time Connecting Country friend and supporter. Jan kindly opened her home so we could view a presentation inside, and enjoy an al fresco lunch under the grapevines.

Our presenter, Miles Geldard, has had a long career in natural resource management, including working as a Land for Wildlife Officer and park ranger. But most relevant for us, Miles shared his in-depth understanding of the design, construction, installation and maintenance of nestboxes, gained over many years of observation and trail-and-error.

Information from Miles’ presentation will be summarised and made available as a fact sheet on our website.

Here is some of the wonderful feedback we received following the workshop:

  • ‘Loved the day. Will inspire us to put some boxes up on our 7.5 acres.’
  • ‘The finer points from Miles’ experience were very helpful.’
  • ‘Loved the ad hoc discussion in the field of what’s happening with the boxes. Damage, placement, etc.’
  • ‘Learnt new things about nesting boxes (been making them for thirty years).’

This workshop was very popular and was fully booked. Therefore we are holding a repeat workshop on Sunday 17 June 2018. Bookings are essential. If you would like to attend, please contact us by email (tanya@connectingcountry.org.au) or phone (5472 1594).

Many thanks to Miles, Jan, Asha, Frances and Duncan for their help on the day! And many thanks to the Wettenhall Environment Trust for the funding that made this workshop possible.
Please enjoy this gallery of photos from the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

Eastern Yellow Robin Talk – Thursday 31 May 2018

Posted on 16 May, 2018 by Tanya Loos

All are welcome to join Lana Austin of Monash University in Newstead next week as she unpacks the bizarre genetic story of what is known (and not known) about the Eastern Yellow Robin. Lana will also explain how volunteers can participate in this fascinating genetic study.

When:  Thursday 31 May, 2018 at 7 pm
Where: Newstead Community Centre: the Mechanics Hall (Lyons St, Newstead VIC)

This is a free event, with no need to book!

We featured the Eastern Yellow Robin project on the blog last week – read the story here if you missed it.  And click here for a poster about the event.

A stunning Eastern Yellow Robin, photo by Geoff park. Wonder which genotype THIS one is?!?