Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Summer’s feathered migrants – Nature News November 7 2017

Posted on 20 November, 2017 by Tanya Loos

For this month’s Nature News, Newstead naturalist and photographer Geoff Park writes about the feathered migrants that are characteristic of our region in the summer months. This article was featured in the Midland Express on November 7, 2017.

Sacred Kingfishers are one of my favourite spring migrants, their loud ‘kek kek’ call may be heard anytime from late August around Newstead. The kingfishers return faithfully to favourite nesting sites along the Loddon River and in the surrounding forests. This species nests in earthen tunnels and tree hollows, with the first fledglings appearing around Christmas most years. Observers can delight in watching the kingfishers as they first stake out territories, refurbish nests and then commence feeding youngsters from late November onwards. The sight of Sacred Kingfishers bringing a selection of cicadas, yabbies, fish and reptiles to their hungry brood is one of the ‘sights of summer’.

My absolute favourite though is the Rainbow Bee-eater. This extraordinarily beautiful bird can be seen year round in northern Australia – but they are not the same individuals. Small flocks of Rainbow Bee-eaters make a twice yearly migration up and down the east coast, with some birds moving as far north as Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia. The birds we see around Newstead may well spend their winter on Cape York where they are replaced by international travellers during the northern summer, as the ‘Newstead’ individuals migrate south.

Rainbow Bee-eaters nest in small colonies, perhaps most notably near the Newstead Cemetery, but also at various locations along the Loddon River. The sound of the first trills of this species can be heard anytime from early October as they gather above their breeding grounds and make spectacular display flights. As spring progresses they descend to their tunnels, usually in a vertical bank of an eroded gully or riverbank and clean their nests in preparation for egg-laying. Not all nests sites are used each year, but some of these special spots must have been used for centuries by successive generations of magnificent ‘rainbowbirds’.

Other summer migrant specialties, such as the Square-tailed Kite, appear to be increasing in numbers.  Flocks of woodswallows (Masked and White-browed Woodswallows) arrived on the first warm northerlies in October. We can also expect to see waders arrive from the northern Hemisphere, such as Red-necked Stints and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. These tiny birds use Cairn Curran Reservoir (most years) and the Moolort Plains wetlands (if they are wet!) to fuel up before flying 10,000 kilometres back to their Siberian breeding grounds!

Look out too for the rarities that may visit each summer. Last year we had a Common Koel in Newstead and this year a spectacular small red honeyeater known as a Scarlet Honeyeater has been visiting the region in unprecedented numbers.

For more information contact Geoff Park at Natural Newstead www.geoffpark.wordpress.com

A Rainbow Bee-eater. Photo by Geoff Park

 

Now is the best time to try out Landcare!

Posted on 31 August, 2017 by Asha

Tanya on a walk with some excited ‘nature detectives’ at the 2017 Camp Out on the Mount

Landcare Week is coming up next week: September 4th – 10th 2017. It’s the perfect time to get outside, get your hands dirty, and connect with other community members. We have over 30 groups in the Mount Alexander region alone, so it’s easy to find an event or working bee that’s near you and suits your interests.

Landcare and Friends groups are always looking for extra hands to help and are keen to share their knowledge of our beautiful local plants and animals. During September, there are more than eleven events being run by Landcare groups, including nature walks to learn from experts and soak up the bush, and working bees to develop some hands-on skills and help improve habitat for native species.

CLICK HERE to visit our page with information about all of the Landcare events happening in the Mount Alexander region in September 2017.

 

Wetland Ecology and Training Courses: October 2017 – March 2018

Posted on 31 August, 2017 by Connecting Country

Registrations are now open for Rakali’s popular wetland courses commencing October 2017 through to March 2018. The courses are presented by SERA 2016 award winning ecologist Damien Cook and Elaine Bayes. Don’t hold off as the NEW courses may be a once off depending on level of attendance and it’s the last time the Wetland Plant ID will be held in the North Central region of Victoria. Click on the following headings to find out more:

NEW: THE WONDERFUL WETLAND ECOLOGY BUS TOUR, 12 & 13 OCT 2017

Join us on a bus tour through some of northern Victoria’s most ecologically diverse wetlands that will be looking their best because of recent rainfall and flooding. Learn how ecological drivers determine wetland ecology.  Dixie Patton, Barapa Traditional Owner will share knowledge on aboriginal uses of these amazing wetlands.  Other land managers will meet us along the way.

NEW: WETLAND RESTORATION AND MANAGEMENT, 16 & 17 NOV 2017

Learn about wetland restoration and management over 2 days with Damien Cook by visiting ‘Waterways’; a SERA 2016 award-winning wetland restoration project which he was involved in planning and implementing, followed by the 200 hectares of coastal park at the Victorian Desalination Plant, Wonthaggi.  Learn more about these projects here.

WETLAND PLANT IDENTIFICATION DAYS, STARTS OCT 2017 – MAR 2018

Learn to identify the most common wetland plants. In order to manage or restore a wetland you first have to thoroughly understand it.  Wetland plant species, condition and placement within a wetland can inform you as to what is going on. You can choose 1, 2 or all 3 days – Each day is timed to follow the wetting and drying of the stunning Reedy Lagoon at Gunbower Island or nearby wetlands so each plant guild can be seen in their splendor.

  • Day One:  Sedges, Grasses and Rushes
  • Day 2:      Aquatic Plants
  • Day 3:      Mudflat specialists.

Click here for more information and to REGISTER. Alternatively contact Elaine Bayes at  Rakali Consulting 0431 959 085 or email elaine@rakali.com.au. Each course can be done as an individual unit or as a complete package (ask Elaine about discounts).

Click here to read some articles on the importance of understanding wetland ecology and using plant knowledge for effective wetland management.