Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

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.