Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

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.)