Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Aussie Backyard Bird Count: 21-27 October 2019

Posted on 17 October, 2019 by Ivan

There’s only one week to go until the Aussie Backyard Bird Count begins. Have you registered yet?

By participating in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, you will be helping BirdLife Australia find out about the birds that live where people live. This is especially important because even common bird species are strong indicators of the health of the environment. Think of birds as a barometer for nature.

Dusky Woodswallows at Mia Mia near Newstead VIC (photo by Geoff Park)

And if that’s not incentive enough, there are some exciting prizes on offer. With thanks to our generous supporters, you could win — a pair of Swarovski binoculars, a copy of ‘Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds’ or a Gang-gang Cockatoo pin badge. Simply submit a bird count to BirdLife from 21-27 October 2019 to be in the running!

If you have any questions about the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, please head to the FAQ page below, where you’ll find information about registering, participating and troubleshooting.

Get ready to count!

FAQ

 

Community trained in early invaders

Posted on 9 October, 2019 by Ivan

The Weeds at the Early Stage of Invasion (WESI) Project, together with Connecting Country, had a strong turnout for their training event last Thursday 3 October 2019 in Newstead VIC. The education event, part of our Habitat Health Check project, focused on identifying environmental weeds that are not yet established in our region, but have the potential to grow their distribution.

The session targeted identification of some early-invader environmental weeds relevant to the Mount Alexander region, including Asparagus fern (Asparagus scandens), White Spanish Broom (Cytisus multiflorus), Broad kernel Espartillo (Achnatherum caudata), Dropping Tree-Pear (Opuntia monacantha), Buffel Grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) and Old Man’s Beard (Clematis vitalba).

Early invaders are plants that have naturalised and started to spread. When spread has just begun, such plants are localised and generally encountered only by chance. Coordinated management intervention (i.e., eradication or containment) is feasible at this stage, due to their highly restricted distributions.

The training did an excellent job in alerting all attendees to the threats of many common garden varieties that can escape under the right conditions and impact surrounding landscapes. All 30 participants learned how to identify these plants, how to record and photograph them, and how to treat and survey the area.

The session also provided samples of another 25 plants that are invasive plants in our region, with attendees getting a chance to get up close and personal to the specimens and learn how to identify them from look-a-likes. Kate Blood and Bianca Gold, from the WESI-DEWLP team, showed passion and precision throughout the day and enlightened all who attended in the emerging threats to the regions biodiversity and agriculture. It was heartening to see attendees from the Mount Alexander Shire Council, Coliban Water, Parks Victoria, Landmate, North Central Catchment Management Authority, and many Landcare and community groups from across our region.

The WESI Project focuses on high risk invasive species at the early stage of invasion that threaten biodiversity. The WESI project works mainly with Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Parks Victoria staff looking after public land and biodiversity across Victoria, but also trains community groups and landowners in identifying early invaders.

For more information on the WESI training, please click here. If you would like to be involved in Connecting Country’s monitoring program, please click here.

Here are some photos from the training by Ivan Carter (Connecting Country) and Kate Blood (DELWP).

 

Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests PhotoShow – Now Open Togs Cafe

Posted on 26 September, 2019 by Ivan

One of Connecting Country’s closest collaborators, Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests (FOBIF), has a photographic show that is now open at Togs Cafe in Lyttleton Street, Castlemaine, Victoria. It will run till 24 October 2019 and features a stunning array of local photographers. All photos are for sale with proceeds going to FOBIF.

Since 1999, the Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests have been conducting art and photography exhibitions with this being their tenth exhibition since 2009. Six of these have been at Togs Cafe. They have all had the same purpose: to honor the native forests of the region, continuing the long tradition of artistic involvement with these forests. Photographers in this exhibition are all local residents, and talented ones at that.

Connecting Country would like to thank all the photographers who contributed photos to this project.

You can download a catalogue with a brief description of each photo here.

One of the photos from the show: Brown-headed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melithreptus) Photo: Patrick Kavanagh 2019

 

Cactus Warriors Wanted – Sunday 29 September 2019

Posted on 26 September, 2019 by Ivan

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (TCCG) and Parks Victoria will hold their next community field day this Sunday to the west of the Maldon township, Victoria, Australia. This event is open to everyone in the community and is a great way to learn more about the threats posed by Wheel Cactus and do something about the spread across our region.

Come along, enjoy the fresh air, destroy some cactus and then join the community for a free cuppa and sausage sizzle.

Where: 200 Treloars Road, Tarrengower VIC (follow the signs along Watersons Road)

When: 10.30 am to 12.30 pm, Sunday 29th September 2019

Map of the catctus field day location, with the “x” marking the spot

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group Inc. (TCCG) consists of Landcare volunteers dedicated to the eradication of Wheel Cactus (Opuntia robusta). TCCG, in conjunction with Parks Victoria, holds friendly and informal Wheel Cactus Control community field days to inform and demonstrate control techniques, on the last Sunday of the month from May to October. These field days always end with a free BBQ lunch, cuppa and cake and the opportunity to chat, exchange ideas and make contacts.

It is a great opportunity to spend a rewarding morning outdoors, meeting neighbours and others who are concerned about preserving our unique environment. Everyone is welcome, no previous experience is required and all equipment is supplied. View the video to catch the ‘cactus warriors’ in action.

Cactus Warrior volunteers at work on a Community Field Day (photo by Lee Mead)

 

Weeds at the Early Stage of Invasion – Thursday 3 October 2019

Posted on 17 September, 2019 by Ivan

The Weeds at the Early Stage of Invasion (WESI) Project, together with Connecting Country, invite you to join us for a session on identifying environmental weeds.

When: Thursday 3 October 2019 from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm
Where: Newstead Community Centre, 9 Lyons St, Newstead, VIC
To register: click here
To download the event flyer: click here

The session will focus on identification of some early invader environmental weeds relevant to the Mount Alexander region. The WESI Project focuses on high risk invasive species at the early stage of invasion (early invaders) that threaten biodiversity. The WESI project works mainly with Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Parks Victoria staff looking after public land and biodiversity across Victoria.

This training is targeted at community groups, individuals, organisations and land managers. Come along to learn how to identify these plants, how to record and photograph them, and how to treat and survey the area. Early invaders are plants that have naturalised and started to spread. When spread has just begun, such plants are localised and generally encountered only by chance. Coordinated management intervention (i.e., eradication or containment) is feasible at this stage, due to their highly restricted distributions.

This is a free event with morning tea and lunch provided.

Spaces are limited so please register below asap to ensure you don’t miss out!

For more information please contact Bianca Gold and Kate Blood (WESI Project), or Ivan Carter (Connecting Country):

 

Chilean needle grass was once an emerging weed in this region, but is now established around Taradale (photo by Connecting Country)

 

 

 

Meet Castlemaine’s endangered butterfly – Saturday 12 October 2019

Posted on 17 September, 2019 by Ivan

Did you know Central Victoria is home to the largest known population of the endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly in the world?!

Enjoy these beautiful pictures of the Eltham Copper Butterfly taken by Elaine Bayes.

 

Tim Low’s challenging ‘New Nature’ talk in Newstead

Posted on 17 September, 2019 by Ivan

Connecting Country and Newstead Landcare Group recently hosted a presentation by well-known author and biological scientist Tim Low. Tim attracted a packed room of 200 excited people to Newstead VIC. He guided us through some highlights from his recently revised book ‘The New Nature’, exploring the concepts of winners and losers in a world of human impact, changing climate and declining resources.

Tim said the attendance was one of the best he had been involved with and interest from the audience was outstanding. Tim described some surprising examples of how conservation and urbanisation can co-exist in some situations. A theme from the talk was that the conservation movement often talks about declining species, as it should, but this leaves many people unaware that some animals and plants are doing better today than ever before, because they have found ways to exploit us.

The ‘New Nature’ book reinforces the concept that animals don’t have any concept of ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’ so they don’t automatically recoil from cities and farms. Sometimes they can do better in cities than in forests, and Tim suggested that Australian cities and towns are gaining animals over time. The audience was surprised to hear that Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are now home for peregrine falcons that nest on skyscrapers, and feed off pigeons and other city-dwelling birds. After the talk Tim took questions from the audience. He stressed that while we will have some winners from our changing planet, we must continue to work hard to prevent losing more species to extinction through habitat loss.

Many thanks to Frances Cincotta and Newstead Landcare Group for helping organise this event and doing some fantastic work. The event was supported by funding from North Central Catchment Management Authority as part of Connecting Country’s ‘Prickly Plants for Wildlife on Small Properties’ project, as well as a donation from Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests.

Although the event was not recorded, there is link to a similar talk on Youtube below.

Tim Low (second from left) with Frances Howe, Frances Cincotta and Ivan Carter (photo by Connecting Country)

 

Tim Low
Tim Low is a biologist and best-selling author of seven books about nature and conservation. ‘Where Song Began’ won several prizes, including the Australian Book Industry Award for best general non-fiction. It was praised in the New York Review of Books and recommended by Scientific American. ‘The New Nature’ was praised by Time magazine and listed by Who magazine as one of the books of the year. ‘Feral Future’ inspired the formation of a conservation group, the Invasive Species Council. Tim’s articles have appeared in Australian Geographic, The Weekend Australian Magazine, The Guardian and many other places. He works partly as an environmental consultant, and has a lizard named after him. He recently returned from a visit to Manchuria as a guest of the China Writer’s Association.

You can read more about Tim Low and view his Blog and website – click here

 

 

Spring railway walk with Nuggetty Land Protection Group – 22 September 2019

Posted on 11 September, 2019 by Jess

Nuggetty Land Protection Group is planning a walk along the Nuggetty to Shelbourne Railway line. This was a branch line from Maldon through Nuggetty and Bradford and ends at the Shelbourne Station complex. The old railway line traverses farmland and Bradford Nature Conservation Reserve. The line was closed in 1960 after due to major fire damage. There will be a stop for lunch at the reserve to look at local birds, orchids and other flora. Binoculars, tea, coffee and water will be available.

Jacky Winter (photo by Kerrie Jennings)

Spring railway walk

When: Sunday 22 September 2019 from 9:30 am

Where: Park at Nuggetty Peace Monument, Nuggetty School Rd, Nuggetty VIC (turn right off Shelbourne Rd north of Maldon). A community bus will transport walkers to start of walk.

Bookings preferred: Jane Mitchell (0457 729 132) or Christine Fitzgerald (0419 347 408)

The walk is approximately 13 km. Bus will meet at intersections of roads if lift required and return you to your car or take you to next section of the walk. Please bring own lunch and water, and wear walking shoes, weather appropriate clothing and hats. The event will be cancelled if weather inclement. Please leave pets at home.

 

Castlemaine BirdLife walk at Pilchers Bridge – 7 September 2019

Posted on 5 September, 2019 by Ivan

Fancy a lovely walk through the Pilchers Bridge Nature Conservation Reserve (near Sutton Grange), led by local enthusiasts Jenny Rolland and Euan Moore? Please see the monthly Birdlife Castlemaine walk details below, from their e-newsletter.

Saturday 7 September 2019 at Pilchers Bridge Nature Conservation Reserve

Join us for a spring-time walk in the beautiful Pilchers Bridge Nature Conservation Reserve, led by Jenny Rolland and Euan Moore. We will walk down Andrews Track through mixed box forest to the dam where we will sit and watch the birds as we have a morning tea break (a small mat would be useful for sitting on by the dam). Then we will walk eastwards along Andrews Track (undulating), head north off-track and return to Andrews Track along the creek lines. The terrain here will be open and relatively flat but the ground could be uneven. We will then walk back up the hill to the cars. This walk is based on a walk from Damian Kelly’s ‘Castlemaine Bird Walks’ book (page 75).

We should see several honeyeater and thornbill species, Treecreepers, Scarlet Robin, Rufous Whistler, Grey Fantail, Crimson Rosella, and if we are lucky, Speckled Warbler and Hooded Robin.

All ages and levels of experience welcome. This is an easy walk covering approx 3 km, finishing at around midday. Please note there are no toilets at the Reserve.

Location and directions: From Harcourt, travel southeast along the old Calder Highway (Harmony Way) for about 6 km and turn left along Faraday-Sutton Grange Road. After about 9 km, turn left along the Bendigo-Sutton Grange Road and after about 7 km turn right into Huddle Road (unsealed). After about 1.5 km, look for a small unsealed track on the right – Andrews Track. Park at this junction or at the lay-by about 50 m before the junction. If you reach the sealed road, you have gone too far.

Time: Meet at the junction of Huddle Road and Andrews Track in the Pilchers Bridge Nature Conservation Reserve at 8:45 am, or to carpool from Castlemaine meet at 8:00 am outside Castlemaine Community House (formerly Continuing Ed), Templeton Street, Castlemaine VIC.

Important information about walks: Bring water, snacks, binoculars, hat, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, long pants during snake season, and other weather-appropriate gear.

Walks will be cancelled if the temperature is forecast to be 35 degrees or more during the walk period, severe weather warnings are forecast, and/or if the day has been declared a Total Fire Ban.

Questions? If you have questions about BirdLife Castlemaine’s walks program, you can email at castlemaine@birdlife.org.au, or call Judy Hopley (0425 768 559) or Asha Bannon (0418 428 721).

Jacky winter perched on a dead branch (photo by Peter Turner)

 

Reminder: talk by renowned author Tim Low on Friday 6 September 2019

Posted on 29 August, 2019 by Ivan

Don’t miss out on a chance to spend the evening with a renowned author who wrote the first nature book ever to win the Australian Book Industry Awards prize for best General Non Fiction! Tim Low will talk in Newstead VIC on Friday 6 September 2019 at 7.30 pm.

Connecting Country and Newstead Landcare Group are delighted to host Tim, who will speak on his book ‘The New Nature’. Although controversial when first published in 2002, the book was recently updated and its themes are now more relevant than ever. Following Tim’s presentation there will be an opportunity for questions and answers, then a cuppa and cake.

Tim Low talk on ‘The New Nature’
When: 7.30 pm on Friday 6 September 2019
Where: Newstead Community Centre, Lyons St (Pyrenees Hwy) Newstead, VIC

All welcome. A gold coin donation will help us cover costs. Bookings not required. 

For our event flyer – click here

This event is supported by funding from North Central Catchment Management Authority and Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests.

Tim Low
Tim Low is a biologist and best-selling author of seven books about nature and conservation. ‘Where Song Began’ won several prizes, including the Australian Book Industry Award for best general non-fiction. It was praised in the New York Review of Books and recommended by Scientific American. ‘The New Nature’ was praised by Time magazine and listed by Who magazine as one of the books of the year. ‘Feral Future’ inspired the formation of a conservation group, the Invasive Species Council. Tim’s articles have appeared in Australian Geographic, The Weekend Australian Magazine, The Guardian and many other places. He works partly as an environmental consultant, and has a lizard named after him. He recently returned from a visit to Manchuria as a guest of the China Writer’s Association.

‘The New Nature’
The conservation movement talks about declining species, as it should, but this leaves many people unaware that some animals and plants are doing better today than ever before, because they have found ways to exploit us. Australia has winners as well as losers. Animals don’t have any concept of ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’ so they don’t automatically recoil from cities and farms. Sometimes they can do better in cities than in forests – Australian cities and towns are gaining animals over time. Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane now have peregrine falcons nesting on skyscrapers. Some urbanising species, notably corellas and flying foxes, are becoming sources of conflicts that need careful consideration. The notion of wilderness can get in the way of understanding all this because it implies that nature is authentic only when there is no human influence. But animals and plants have been benefiting from humans ever since Aboriginal people began burning the ‘wilderness’ to manage it.

You can read more about Tim Low and view his blog and website – click here

 

Wattle walk and talk well received

Posted on 29 August, 2019 by Ivan

The wattles were blooming like crazy for the strong crowd of nearly 50 people at our ‘Wonderful World of Wattles’ event on Saturday 24 August at Campbells Creek in central Victoria. It was a day to remember, with sunny weather and two excellent guest speakers to educate participants about the beauty, benefits and biodiversity of the Acacia (wattle) species in our region. Connecting Country, Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare and Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests partnered to deliver the event, which was part of our larger ‘Prickly plants for wildlife’ project funded through the North Central Catchment Management Authority.

The event kicked off indoors with retired academic and botanist Rod Orr, who has spent many years volunteering at the Bendigo Field Naturalists Club. Rod provided an excellent overview on the ecology and biological function of wattles. The audience was fascinated to learn that wattles can produce their own nitrogen fertiliser through nodules in their roots, allowing them to live in extremely low-nutrient soils. This explains why they are so useful in colonizing disturbed sites and degraded landscapes, like central Victoria!

The second part of the educational event was a walk and talk with Campbells Creek identity Ian Higgins, through the Campbells Creek Reserve at the end of Honeycomb Road. This site proved perfect for the keen audience to test their skills in identifying the large array of Acacia species that had been re-established at the site. Ian pointed out some of the finer skills in how to differentiate between species. He also gave the group a lesson in growing Acacias from seeds, and managed to get the audience to complete some direct seeding in a site dominated by Phalaris grass!

For those who could not attend, Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests have developed an excellent 112 page book for sale, suited to beginners. In plain language, and generously illustrated, it presents 21 Acacia species that flourish in the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria. A general introduction explains different features of wattles, helping in identification and appreciation of these tenacious and beautiful plants.

Many thanks to Gen Kay, who generously volunteered her photography skills to capture the following images on the day.

 

Inquiry into tackling climate change in Victorian communities – respond by 26 August 2019

Posted on 22 August, 2019 by Ivan

Connecting Country’s activities – such as protection of remnant vegetation, revegetation, establishing wildlife corridors, control of pest plants and animals, and biodiversity monitoring – all contribute to climate change adaptation, mitigation and a better understanding of its effects. However, there is more that can be done locally and at larger scales. By working with people in our community to address the direct and indirect impacts of climate change, we hope to create a robust and healthy local landscape that remains livable for future generations of humans and other species.

Ways in which Victorian communities are responding to climate change will be the focus of a new parliamentary inquiry, with the Victorian Legislative Assembly’s Environment and Planning Committee inviting public submissions.

A changing climate is affecting biodiversity across the planet. As well as putting increasing pressure on individual species, it will exacerbate the effects of threatening processes in natural areas, such as habitat loss and fragmentation, drought, introduced species, erosion, bushfire and pollution.

The Senate Committee wants to hear from community members and organisations on actions they are taking to reduce the severity of climate change and adapt to its current and future impacts. The inquiry will consider ways in which the government can best support communities in their efforts. Written contributions are welcome by 26 August 2019 and the committee will be conducting public hearings across Victoria to speak with people on the issues they raise.

Details on how to make a submission are available at www.parliament.vic.gov.au/ClimateChangeInquiry

Community action on climate change

Here’s an opportunity to tell a parliamentary committee about community actions to tackle climate change. More details at www.parliament.vic.gov.au/ClimateChangeInquiry

Posted by Parliament of Victoria on Sunday, 14 July 2019

 

 

Cactus destroyers wanted – Sunday 25 August 2019

Posted on 22 August, 2019 by Ivan

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group and Parks Victoria will hold their next Community Field Day on Sunday 25 August 2019, with the group keen to get some new Cactus Warriors on board.

Come and join the Cactus Warriors and Parks Victoria for a morning in the fresh air and learn how best to destroy Wheel Cactus. The location is at the reservoir end of Whitlocks Road, near Maldon VIC. To get there, take South Parkins Reef Road out of Maldon and follow it to the end. The route will be well signposted. The morning’s activities finish with a delicious BBQ lunch and friendly chat. The event is family friendly but children must be accompanied by a parent at all times.

For more information on the infamous Cactus Warriors – click here.

Community Field Day
When: 10.30 am to 12.30 pm on Sunday 25 August 2019
Where: End of Whitlocks Road, Tarrangower VIC (near sheep yards), via South Parkin’s Reef Road and follow the signs.

Come along kill some cactus and then enjoy a free sausage sizzle

Check out the poster below for a location map or visit www.cactuswarriors.org and subscribe for a monthly field day reminder.

 

 

Video on Communities Listening for Nature Castlemaine

Posted on 14 August, 2019 by Ivan

Fresh off the press! We have received Museum Victoria’s published video summary of the fascinating ‘Listening to Nature Citizen Science Video’, which has been mapping out the sounds of our local bushland. Scientific wildlife surveys are essential for reporting and managing biodiversity, and researchers now listen as well as look.

During 2018, a group of volunteers began a project to monitor nocturnal birds in the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria using song meter recorders. This ‘Communities Listening for Nature’ project was run by Victoria National Parks Association (VNPA) in partnership with Museums Victoria and Connecting Country.

The Communities Listening to Nature project uses automated sound recorders to monitor birds in their natural environments. The song meters recorded bird calls at many sites over long time periods. Partnering with local groups, the VNPA  installed recorders at several locations, including Mount Worth State Park and surrounding district, Bunyip State Park, Mount Alexander region and the Wombat State Forest.

Each location has its own study design, which has been developed with input from local groups and land managers, and scientists from Museums Victoria. The recorded nature calls will help them learn more about Victoria’s nature. The recordings are also added to the public library of Victorian bird sounds managed by Museums Victoria and available to everyone from their online collections. Communities The project was supported with funding from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.

For more information on the Listening to Nature Program, please click here.

The video contains interviews with the volunteers and participants of the project and gives a great summary of why the project is vital to our future work. The Listening to Nature project uses spectrograms,  a visual representation of an audio signal, with the pitch or frequency displayed vertically, and the time horizontally. High frequencies (like those made by bats) are near the top of the image, while lower frequencies are near the bottom of the image. To learn more about some of the wildlife sounds recorded during the project in our region, please click here.

The filmmakers acknowledge the elders of the Dja Dja Wurrung community and their forebears as the traditional owners of Country in this region.

 

Tim Low on ‘The New Nature’ – 6 September 2019

Posted on 8 August, 2019 by Frances

Connecting Country and Newstead Landcare Group are delighted to host a presentation by well-known author and biological scientist Tim Low.

Tim will speak on his book ‘The New Nature’. Although controversial when first published in 2002, the book was recently updated and its themes are now more relevant than ever. Following Tim’s presentation there will be an opportunity for questions and answers, then a cuppa and cake.

Tim Low talk on ‘The New Nature’
When: 7.30 pm on Friday 6 September 2019
Where: Newstead Community Centre, Lyons St (Pyrenees Hwy) Newstead, VIC

All welcome. A gold coin donation will help us cover costs. Bookings not required. 

For our event flyer – click here

This event is supported by funding from North Central Catchment Management Authority and Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests.

Tim Low
Tim Low is a biologist and best-selling author of seven books about nature and conservation. ‘Where Song Began’ won several prizes, including the Australian Book Industry Award for best general non-fiction. It was praised in the New York Review of Books and recommended by Scientific American. ‘The New Nature’ was praised by Time magazine and listed by Who magazine as one of the books of the year. ‘Feral Future’ inspired the formation of a conservation group, the Invasive Species Council. Tim’s articles have appeared in Australian Geographic, The Weekend Australian Magazine, The Guardian and many other places. He works partly as an environmental consultant, and has a lizard named after him. He recently returned from a visit to Manchuria as a guest of the China Writer’s Association.

‘The New Nature’
The conservation movement talks about declining species, as it should, but this leaves many people unaware that some animals and plants are doing better today than ever before, because they have found ways to exploit us. Australia has winners as well as losers. Animals don’t have any concept of ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’ so they don’t automatically recoil from cities and farms. Sometimes they can do better in cities than in forests – Australian cities and towns are gaining animals over time. Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane now have peregrine falcons nesting on skyscrapers. Some urbanising species, notably corellas and flying foxes, are becoming sources of conflicts that need to be carefully considered. The notion of wilderness can get in the way of understanding all this because it implies that nature is authentic only when there is no human influence. But animals and plants have been benefiting from humans ever since Aboriginal people began burning the ‘wilderness’ to manage it.

You can read more about Tim Low and view his Blog and website – click here

 

Natural Newstead: A proper soaking and then woodland birds

Posted on 31 July, 2019 by Asha

If you love birds and our natural heritage, hopefully you’ve already discovered the Natural Newstead blog. The blog is a wealth of knowledge and expert observations of flora, fauna and landscape in central Victoria. With nearly 2,000 subscribers, it contains some of the best nature photography you will see anywhere. It is run by Newstead resident and local ecological identity Geoff Park, with contributions from other knowledgeable locals. Geoff Park has worked in various roles with the North Central Catchment Management Authority and in the private sector, and is very passionate about biodiversity conservation and on-ground biodiversity outcomes.

If you’re not familiar the blog, check it out here: https://geoffpark.wordpress.com

We particularly enjoyed Geoff’s recent post about woodland birds enjoying the wetter conditions this winter. To read this post on the Natural Newstead website, click here, or continue reading below.

A proper soaking and then woodland birds
Posted on 1 July 2019 by Geoff Park

We’re in the depths of winter and celebrating wonderful rainfall over the weekend.

Hopefully we move slowly now into a ‘typical’ spring that enables some recovery of woodland bird populations across the region. I was pretty chuffed to see some familiar faces at Muckleford Gorge, especially a pair of Hooded Robins. Along with the Crested Shrike-tit and Jacky Winter we encountered numerous Flame Robins, a Golden Whistler, Restless Flycatchers and Brown Treecreepers.

Crested Shrike-tit (adult male), Muckleford Gorge, 30th June 2019. Photo: Geoff Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crested Shrike-tit (adult male), Muckleford Gorge, 30th June 2019. Photo: Geoff Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hooded Robin (male). Photo: Geoff Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacky Winter on a branch. Photo: Geoff Park

 

 

 

Who will be our lucky 1,000th follower?

Posted on 25 July, 2019 by Ivan

Love it, or hate it, Facebook and the social media titans have changed the way many of us interact with the world and our community. Connecting Country has moved with the times and has an excellent website and a strong online presence through Facebook. It allows us to tell our story, and yours, through image, videos and words, as well as getting feedback from you!

We are sitting very close to 1,000 followers on Facebook, so its time to celebrate the milestone with a give-away prize for our 1,000th Facebook follower! We would like to offer a choice of three local books, to connect and educate our community with our natural heritage. The three books are listed below, all published by our local champions at Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests (FOBIF).

Wattles of the Mount Alexander Region
by Bernard Slattery, Ern Perkins and Bronwyn Silver

This 112 page guide, Wattles of the Mount Alexander Region, helps the beginner to make a start. In plain language, and generously illustrated, it presents 21 species that flourish in the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria. A general introduction explains different features of wattles, helping in identification and appreciation of these tenacious and beautiful plants. The book is published by FOBIF in association with Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club and Connecting Country.

 


Eucalypts of the Mount Alexander Regioncover-single-page-euc-book
by Bernard Slattery, Ern Perkins and Bronwyn Silver

This 90 page guide aims to help the beginner train the eye to see the differences between eucalypts, and to appreciate how spectacular they are. It presents common species of the Mount Alexander Region, generously illustrated and clearly described in plain language. Though firmly based on forests and reserves around the town of Castlemaine, it describes species common to the whole Box-Ironbark region, and would be useful to any enthusiast in that region, from Ararat to Chiltern. Sections on major species include drawings of buds, fruit, juvenile leaves and adult leaves by Leon Costermans. The book is a community project of FOBIF with a generous grant from the Worrowing Fund through the Norman Wettenhall Foundation. Castlemaine Field Naturalists’ Club and Connecting Country also provided support.

Mosses of dry forests in south eastern Australia
by Cassia Read and Bernard Slattery

A guide for students and absolute beginners – technically accurate, but free of technical language – this book presents a little-known part of the plant kingdom to a new audience. The guide contains an introduction explaining the life cycle of mosses and their importance in the ecosystem, tips on how to approach identification, detailed descriptions of common species, and appendices carefully distinguishing mosses from liverworts and lichens. This is a community project of FOBIF generously supported by The Norman Wettenhall Foundation.


So, who will be the lucky number 1,000th follower on Facebook? Click away for a chance to win, if you’re quick ……..

 

People for nature: an online workshop – Thursday 25 July 2019

Posted on 23 July, 2019 by Ivan

Explore citizen science and challenges concerning climate change on species conservation

The State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams (SWIFFT) is a network and an initiative supported by Federation University Australia, the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, Zoos Victoria, the Ballarat Environment Network and the Victorian Department of Environment Land Water and Planning.

SWIFFT comprises a wide diversity of interests such as Landcare, conservation and field naturalists groups together with members of the community, including farmers and landholders, who share an interest in nature conservation. SWIFFT also has involvement from environmental consultants, local government, tertiary institutions conservation agencies and organisations such as Trust for Nature, Greening Australia, Catchment Management Authorities, Parks Victoria and Connecting Country. All are welcome to join the conversation!

SWIFFT connects people with events, information and others interested in threatened species and biodiversity conservation. They are holding an online video conference on Thursday 25 July 2019 from 9:55 am – 12:15 pm AEST. You can connect from your home, or from a local state government office at Bendigo, Ballarat or further afield (click here for details)

The online event includes the following presentations:

  • Climate Watch: Informing climate change knowledge gaps through citizen science by Nadia Roslan (ClimateWatch Program Manager at the Earthwatch Institute).
  • A #BlueCarbonArmy counteracting climate change by Dr Maria Garcia-Rojas (Field Operations Manager, Blue Carbon Army).
  • Australian Museum’s citizen science project ‘frog id’ by Adam Woods (FrogID Science Communicator and Project Coordinator, Australian Museum).
  • Redmap by David Mossop (Redmap National Coordinator).

For more information and to register – click here.

SWIFFT requests those attending the video conference in person at an office location to please sign in at reception by 9:40 am. All are welcome to join other participants in the lunchtime conservation conversations following the presentations.

 

swifft area

SWIFFT is collating information on threatened species and nature conservation projects for all regions of Victoria.

 

A prickly reminder to watch the Wheel Cactus

Posted on 18 July, 2019 by Ivan

What is Wheel Cactus (Opuntia robusta)? A plant native to Mexico, this cactus is most commonly called Wheel Cactus in Australia, and believed to be introduced into our country as a ‘hardy’ garden plant. This cactus species has a distinct blue/green colour and large, flat, round pads with many short and long spines. The pads are circular like a wheel, different to the shape of Prickly Pear. The plant is erect and can grow to 3 metres tall. It has yellow flowers and dark red fruit in spring/summer, each containing approximately 500 seeds which are spread by animals and water. This weed has become widely established in central Victoria, western NSW and south-eastern and eastern SA. It particularly likes to grow on granite outcrops, but also infests woodlands and pastures.

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (TCCG) has been battling the prickly problem that is Wheel Cactus (Opuntia robusta) for many years now, ensuring the community and landowners are always on the look out for Wheel Cactus invading the landscape. Three excellent videos from TCCG (see below) have helped the community to easily access the library of information on Wheel Cactus and how to best remove this troublesome plant from the landscape, no matter the level of knowledge.

The three videos cover a variety of topics, such as what Wheel Cactus is and why it is an issue, who the Cactus Warriors are, management options for treating Wheel Cactus and some great footage of the warriors at work. We think the videos are an excellent resource for anyone wanting to know more about managing Wheel Cactus and how devastating it can be on agriculture and the environment alike.

TCCG consists of Landcare volunteers dedicated to the eradication of Wheel Cactus. The group holds friendly and informal community field days to inform and demonstrate control techniques, on the last Sunday of the month from May to October. These field days always end with a free BBQ lunch, cuppa and cake and the opportunity to chat, exchange ideas and make contacts. It is a great opportunity to spend a rewarding morning outdoors, meeting neighbours and others who are concerned about preserving our unique environment. Everyone is welcome, no previous experience is required and all equipment is supplied.

Please contact the TCCG via their website at www.cactuswarriors.org if you have any queries.  Click on the videos below to watch each video and learn about the incredible success the TCCG have achieved and how to remove plants correctly.

 

 

 

 

 

Nature Hotspot: Mega-Sign launched at Castlemaine Information Centre

Posted on 9 July, 2019 by Ivan

The Honorable State Government member for West Bendigo, Maree Edwards MP, launched our wonderful ‘Key Biodiversity Areas: Nature Hotspots’ sign at the Castlemaine Market Building Information Center, Castlemaine, Victoria, on Tuesday 25 June 2019, in front of a solid crowd of dedicated volunteers and members.

The sign aims to educate the community and visitors to the region about the internationally significant nature hotspots to the west of Castlemaine, which are part of the greater Box-Ironbark Key Biodiversity Area (KBA). The sign has some stunning pictures of five bird species that you might see in the KBA area and aims to encourage people to explore and connect with these important landscapes, which include the forests and woodlands around: 

1. Clydesdale-Strangways
2. Sandon/Strathlea
3. Muckleford-Newstead

The five bird species highlighted in the sign are the Swift Parrot, Powerful Owl, Painted Button Quail, Hooded Robin and the local darling, the Diamond Firetail, all of which rely on the KBA area to provide habitat, biodiversity and ecosystem function to ensure their survival in our region. The photographs featured in the sign were generously donated by local photographers Geoff Park, Chris Tzaros and Alison Pouliot, with the incredible graphic design donated by the talented Jane Satchell.

The sign design for “Caring for our Key Biodiversity Areas”. Photo: Jane Satchell

The sign was funded through the ‘Caring for Key Biodiversity Areas in Central Victoria’ project, which included working with seven volunteer landholders within the KBA to restore and protect habitat on their properties.  The participating landholders will play a vital part in ensuring the habitat remains viable and in good health for all species that are present throughout the seasons.  The project also included education events to raise the awareness of KBAs through community-run Easter Health Checks of these habitats.

Connecting Country held a series of workshops in partnership with BirdLife Australia, to recruit bird survey volunteers known as ‘KBA guardians’ and provided training in how to complete the annual ‘Easter Heath Check’ form. You can read about those workshops here. The Easter Health checks will continue to occur in our KBA landscape, despite the project finishing up shortly, with the community keen to monitor these areas. This will inform Birdlife Australia of the threats and management actions required to keep these precious woodlands and forests in good health.

Diamond Firetails are declining in our region and feature prominently on the signage. Photo by Geoff Park

We would like to thank all of those who have been involved in development of information, design, and proofing of the sign, there are so many of you and your help has made such a beautiful and lasting sign possible.

For further information about Key Biodiversity Areas, please click here. If you would like to be involved in the Easter Health check for these landscapes, please contact the KBA coordinator at Birdlife australia: kba@birdlife.org.au