Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Rare and threatened plants of Maldon – 22 October 2022

Posted on 13 October, 2022 by Hadley Cole

Maldon Urban Landcare Inc. (MULGA) are hosting a presentation with local ecologist Karl Just on the rare and threatened plants of the Maldon area. The event is on Saturday 22 October 2022 at 10.00 am at the Maldon Neighbourhood Centre, cnr Church and Edward Sts, Maldon VIC. All are welcome!

Inland Red-tip Greenwood (photo by leoniec1965, iNaturalist.ala.org.au)

Karl will provide an overview of rare and threatened plants around Maldon across the Mount Alexander region, as well as discussing common threatening processes and what can be done to prevent future decline.

Karl Just is a botanist and zoologist, with over 15 years experience as an ecological consultant, playing a leading role in over 150 conservation-based projects. He is considered an expert in the ecology and conservation of Victoria’s terrestrial orchids. Karl has many years of practical experience in bushland management, assisting in restoring plant communities and recovering threatened flora and fauna.

Bookings are not required. For further information contact Bev Phillips (ph 0407 770 350).

For more information on MULGA – click here

 

Landcare sticky beak tour 2022 – Golden Point Landcare

Posted on 12 October, 2022 by Hadley Cole

As part of the Landcare sticky beak tour in October 2022 we will be celebrating the work of Landcare and friends groups across the Mount Alexander / Leanganook region of central Victoria.

Today we will have a little sticky beak into the wonderful work of Golden Point Landcare.

Many local residents will be familiar with the popular swimming spot at Expedition Pass Reservior in Golden Point, affectionately known as ‘the res’. Well, this special area has its very own Landcare group who care for the surrounding bushland.

Golden Point Landcare Group started back in 1994 and has worked in the Forest Creek catchment from Expedition Pass Reservoir to the Monster Meeting site in Chewton. They have partnered with private landholders and the various government agencies who have managed the crown land over that time.

The current public land manager is Parks Victoria and most of the catchment is in the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park.

The group’s main focus has been pest plant and animal management through funded projects complemented by community education programs. These activities place emphasis on helping the recovering landscape from the impacts of gold exploration starting back in 1851.

Sign post at Chinaman Point Road site (photo by Marie Jones)

One of Golden Point Landcare’s ongoing restoration sites is at Chinamans Point and Trapps Gully, which will be part of the Monster Meeting site walk. To check out some of the work they have been doing in this area, head to the intersection of Chinamans Point Road and Ammons Road in Golden Point VIC, and take a walk along the walking track.

They have the support of the ‘Chewton Chat’ community newspaper to keep everyone up to date with what is happening.

The Forest Creek walking track starts in Castlemaine, meanders through Chewton and follows the creek upstream to Expedition Pass Reservoir, passing through areas cared for by multiple Landcare groups. The amazing landscape restoration work that Landcare groups have achieved over the years means that everyone can enjoy our bushland and its creatures. But there’s always more to be done!

For more information on Golden Point Landcare Group or to become a member you can contact Jennifer Pryce via email (j.pryce@bigpond.com) or phone (0423 900 590).

During October 2022, get out there and explore your local neighbourhood and see what plants and animals you can find in your local Landcare group’s sites! You never know what you might discover.

The Landcare sticky beak tour was made possible through a Victorian Landcare Grant with North Central Catchment Management Authority.

 

Don’t miss out: Bursaria for butterflies

Posted on 11 October, 2022 by Ivan

We’re still looking for local landholders to join our ‘Bursaria for butterflies’ project, but you’ll need to get your expression of interest (EOI) soon! Our EOI process closes 5 pm on 17 October 2022. Read on for details on how to get involved, and please be sure to read the project criteria.

Small but beautiful: the Eltham Copper Butterfly is only the size of a ten cent piece (photo by Elaine Bayes)

Connecting Country’s Bursaria for Butterflies project aims to protect and enhance priority habitat for the threatened Eltham Copper Butterfly (Paralucia pyrodiscus lucida) around Castlemaine VIC. We’ll achieve this through practical on-ground actions to reduce threats and improve the quality, quantity and connectivity of available butterfly habitat. We will work with key landholders to protect and restore priority butterfly habitat on their land. We’re supporting local landholders to control threats (including weeds and rabbits) and revegetate their land, focusing on the butterfly’s host plant, Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa).

We are looking for interested landholders with properties (of at least 1 acre) adjacent to the known local populations of the Eltham Copper Butterfly around Castlemaine. To read more about the benefits of being part of the project – click here

Property selection criteria

Not every property will be suitable as Eltham Copper Butterfly habitat.

We’re looking for properties that meet the following criteria.

Land with:

  • Minimum of 0.4 hectares (1 acre) land size with space for revegetation planting
  • Proximity (within 1 km) to Kalimna Park, Castlemaine Botanical Gardens northern section, Chewton Bushlands (Dingo Park Rd region), Walmer Forest Reserve (near southern end of Woodbrook Rd) and Campbells Creek (near Broad Rd).
  • Suitable conditions for the target plant species to facilitate healthy growth.
  • No domestic stock grazing.

Landholders with:

  • Strong interest in managing their property for biodiversity conservation and restoration.
  • Commitment to planting and maintaining the revegetated plants.
  • Capacity to commit to future land management actions (e.g., weed and rabbit control, grazing exclusion, maintaining plant guards).

Landholder expressions of interest

If you meet the criteria and are keen protect and restore butterfly habitat on your land, please complete our expression of interest form – Click here

Please return your expression of interest form to Connecting Country via email (info@connectingcountry.org.au). Expressions of interest close on the 17 October 2022

This project is funded by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as part of the Environment Restoration Fund and Threatened Species Strategy Action Plan.

Learn more about the Eltham Copper Butterfly

For more information about the Eltham Copper Butterfly – click here

 

 

Landcare sticky beak tour 2022 – Tarrangower Cactus Control Group

Posted on 10 October, 2022 by Hadley Cole

As part of the Landcare sticky beak tour in October 2022 we will be celebrating the work of Landcare and friends groups across the Mount Alexander / Leanganook region of central Victoria.

Today we will have a little sticky beak into the wonderful work of Tarrangower Cactus Control Group.

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group is based in Maldon with the single objective to control Wheel Cactus plants in our local natural environment. The group originally formed in 2005 to help Parks Victoria control the infestations of Wheel Cactus in the Maldon Historic Reserve and to increase awareness of this weed species within the local community. They still focus on community education and landowner motivation, and continue to assist Parks Victoria to treat Wheel Cactus. 

 

This particular species of cactus was introduced from Mexico and is a declared Noxious Weed and a Weed of National Significance. The seeds are spread mostly by birds and is spreading quickly to other areas in the Mount Alexander Shire. Wheel Cactus is highly damaging for both our native plants and animals, and local primary industries. It is a very difficult plant to destroy or control, so it is vital to stop the spread of this highly invasive weed to new locations. 

Local Wheel Cactus infestation (photo by Lee Mead)

The photo of the Wheel Cactus infestation shows how dense and impenetrable infestations of Wheel Cactus become when untreated. 

To see the Cactus Warriors in action check out their video on our website –  click here

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (also known as the Cactus Warriors) holds community field days around the Maldon district on either private properties or public land managed by Parks Victoria. These field days are open to everyone interested in learning how to control this noxious weed, and are advertised on their website and Facebook page.

The group can also loan out equipment and provide independent advice and assistance.

If you would like some information about or assistance with Wheel Cactus, please contact the Cactus Warriors via their website – click here  

During October 2022, get out there and explore your local neighbourhood and see what plants and animals you can find in your local Landcare group’s sites!

The Landcare sticky beak tour was made possible through a Victorian Landcare Grant with North Central Catchment Management Authority.

 

Our land at contact with Newstead Landcare – UPDATE!

Posted on 10 October, 2022 by Frances

We received the following update from our friends at Newstead Landcare Group regarding thier AGM 2022 event:

Due to the high risk of floods today and tomorrow, in sorrowful mood we’ve decided to cancel the presentation by Barry Golding for our AGM tomorrow night.
Barry will do his presentation early in 2023. We will still have the AGM via Zoom (link and password below). The AGM will probably take about 20 minutes.

Newstead Landcare AGM 2022
13 October 2022 at 7.30 pm

To join the online AGM via Zoom – click here

 

Our land at contact

The arrival of Europeans in Australia produced profound changes across the continent. It can be hard to know exactly what the landscape looked like before this dramatic upheaval. The documents left by the earliest intruders can give us a few clues.

Professor Barry Golding of Federation University has combed through historical records to put together a picture of how the land around Newstead and its environs may have looked prior to contact. From the extensive permanent ponds on the Loddon containing literally tonnes of Murray Cod to the vast meadows of Yam Daisies (Myrnong), some of the descriptions Barry has found give us a glimpse of the extraordinary richness of our neck of the woods.

Barry will be presenting some of his findings at Newstead Landcare Group’s AGM on Thursday 13 October 2022. The presentation will start at 7.30 pm at Newstead Community Centre. A very brief AGM will follow. All are welcome to attend, gold coin donations appreciated.

Newstead Landcare Group  presentation
Presenter: Professor Barry Golding of Federation University 
When: TO BE CONFIRMED
Where: Newstead Community Centre, 9 Lyons St, Newstead VIC

The event will be postponed in the event of extreme weather or flooding.

For details on the Natural Newstead blog – click here

Yam Daisy or Myrnong (Microseris lanceolata) (photo by Frances Cincotta)

 

Bird of the month: Peregrine Falcon

Posted on 10 October, 2022 by Ivan

Welcome to Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are blessed to have the brilliant Damian Kelly from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, accompanied by his stunning photos.

Peregrine Falcon – Falco peregrinus

Peregrine Falcons can be found worldwide on every continent except Antarctica, with several subspecies identified. The species name peregrinus refers to its wandering habit in the northern hemisphere where it migrates to warmer climes in winter.

However, the Australian subspecies (Falco peregrinus macropus) does not migrate. The subspecies name macropus comes from macro = large, and pus = foot. It seems that the Australian birds have developed a large foot to facilitate the taking of Galahs, one of their preferred prey items. In addition, because they do not need to migrate, they have shorter wings and are heavier than most northern subspecies. Although this is less favourable for long flights, it aids in speed and manoeuvrability, which makes hunting medium to large parrots easier. In Australia, as in other parts of the world, Peregrines have adapted to humans and are now well-established nesting and living in large cities where they utilise tall buildings.

Peregrine Falcons are among the world’s most common birds of prey and are present in central Victoria (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

They have been used as trained hunters in the sport of falconry for at least 3,000 years. They are easily trained and adapt to humans, being easy to breed in captivity.

It is the fastest animal on earth, having been clocked at 112 km/hour in level flight and over 300 km/hour in a dive, recorded when a female Peregrine chased a skydiver. Prey consists largely of other birds, normally caught in flight, although sometimes knocked out of the sky during a fast dive. City falcons primarily take feral pigeons, along with other small birds such as honeyeaters and some water birds.

They also have a murderous reputation amongst their own kind, with female falcons killing other females to gain possession of a nest site. Occasionally a new male will drive away an existing male and take over a site with a sitting female. This is being played out with the Collins Street falcons at the moment in Melbourne. Females are larger than males.

Australian Peregrines tend to be sedentary, holding territories and nest sites throughout the year. They do not build their own nests, preferring ledges on cliffs as well as ledges on buildings in large cities, large hollows or sometimes taking over the existing nests of other species such as Whistling Kites. Research in Victoria has identified around 256 active nests – 60% on cliffs, 10% on buildings, 14% in stick nests of other species, and 16% in tree hollows. Both males and females incubate the eggs and feed the young.

Peregrine Falcons are extremely territorial and rare birds-of-prey that dive at neck-breaking speeds to hunt smaller birds (photo by Damian Kelly)

 

If you want to watch active nests in Australia, two have online webcam feeds with young that hatched around early October 2022.

To watch Peregrine Falcons nesting on a tall building in Collins Street in Melbourne VIC – click here
To watch Perigraine Falcons nesting in a nest box on a water tower in Orange NSW – click here

 

Damian Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Renew your membership 2022-23

Posted on 5 October, 2022 by Frances

Connecting Country Wattles event (photo by Gen Kay)

A great big thank you to those members who renewed their Connecting Country membership for 2022-23, and a hearty welcome to our new members!

We love new members and encourage all existing members to continue their membership for the coming year.

If you haven’t renewed your membership, it’s never too late and only takes a minute!

Begin or renew your membership – click here

Why be a member?

  • Demonstrates your commitment to local, on-ground landscape restoration.
  • Shows your support for Connecting Country, which helps us when seeking funding for new projects.
  • Allows you to vote at the Connecting Country AGM.
  • Gets you access to Connecting Country events, advice and equipment.
  • Provides you with insurance cover when attending events or volunteering with Connecting Country.

Membership is free. However, if you would like to offset the costs associated with your membership or are in a position to contribute financially to our landscape restoration work please consider donating. We are a registered charity, donations over $2 are tax deductible, and receipts are issued automatically.

Make a donation:

  • To make a secure online donation (via GiveNow) – click here
  • For other ways to donate – click here

We sincerely thank all our members for your continued support and participation in Connecting Country activities over the last busy year. We’re now working on some exciting new projects for 2022-23 and hope you can be part of our story.

 

Get to know the Fryerstown Grevillea with Castlemaine Field Naturalists – 14-15 October 2022

Posted on 5 October, 2022 by Ivan

As a monthly tradition, our friends at Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club hold a meeting with a guest speaker on the second Friday of the month, followed by a group excursion or field trip the following day. Castlemaine Field Nats provided the following details about their October 2022 meeting and excursion, which look very interesting and exciting. All are welcome to attend. For more information on the club, please visit their website – click here

MONTHLY MEETING: Friday 14 October 2022 at 7.30pm

Location: Uniting Church Fellowship Room, Lyttleton Street, Castlemaine VIC
Speaker: Georgie Custance
Title: Monitoring Fryerstown Grevillea, a threatened species in our region

Join ecologist Georgie Custance from the Threatened Species Conservancy to learn more about a locally endemic plant, the Fryerstown Grevillea (Grevillea obtecta). Although locally common in small areas, it is not widespread and is subject to threats such as inappropriate fire management. Learn how to record and monitor this species using a threatened plant monitoring app. called ProofSafe on your smartphone or tablet.

By mapping the locations of the Fryerstown Grevillea, the Threatened Species Conservancy will be able to assess the true status of this species and the need for recovery actions to enable it to persist in the wild.

We encourage you to load the free phone app, ProofSafe, to your mobile phone or tablet before the meeting as Georgie will provide instructions on how to use it as part of her talk. For detailed instructions from the Threatened Species Conservancy on how to load and use ProofSafe, please refer to the page on our website – click here

EXCURSION: Saturday 15 October 2022 at 1.30 pm

Grevillea obtecta project – learn how to identify and record sightings of this rare species in the field
Leader: Georgie Custance

Enjoy a walk in the bush to visit some local populations of this wonderful species as well as the many other native plants that are flowering at the moment. During the walk Georgie will demonstrate how to use ProofSafe to record your sightings of Fryerstown Grevillea (Grevillea obtecta) so that we can practice what we learnt at the meeting. Location to be confirmed but either Fryers Ridge or Porcupine Ridge which are some of our best wildflower areas.

We hope to see you there to learn how to identify this rare plant and how you can contribute to its crucial monitoring and conservation.

Meet: 1.30 pm at the Octopus building in Duke St, opposite the Castle Motel, Castlemaine VIC
Bring:  Water, afternoon tea, sturdy shoes, hat and if possible, your mobile phone or tablet with the ProofSafe app. loaded.
Enquiries: castlemainefnc@hotmail.com

 

Landcare sticky beak tour – Book Now – Saturday 8 October 2022

Posted on 3 October, 2022 by Ivan

The Mount Alexander region Landcare sticky beak tour is a celebration of Landcare and friends groups across the region! Many of the natural spaces you can experience in our beautiful region have been lovingly brought back to life and cared for by the incredibly dedicated network of Landcare and friends groups of the region.

Our Landcare sticky beak tour provides an opportunity for our local Landcare and environment groups to showcase their work both online over the month of October 2022, and in person at the launch on Saturday 8 October 2022 at Honeycomb Reserve (end of Honeycomb Rd), Campbells Creek VIC from 10.00 am to 12 noon.

Connecting Country will launch the project in partnership with local Landcare and friends groups, with a walking tour in and around sites in the Campbells Creek area. This is a great opportunity to hear about the activities of local Landcare groups, meet some of the Landcarers and share their stories. Everyone is welcome and morning tea will be provided. Sturdy walking shoes and drink bottles are recommended.

Please book to assist us with planning.

To book for this free event – click here

If you have questions about the Landcare sticky beak tour please contact Connecting Country’s Landcare Facilitator, Hadley Cole – hadley@connectingcountry.org.au

This project is funded by North Central Catchment Management Authority as part of the Victorian Landcare Grants.

 

Landcare sticky beak tour 2022 – Castlemaine Landcare Group

Posted on 29 September, 2022 by Hadley Cole

 

As part of the Landcare Sticky Beak Tour in October 2022 we will be celebrating the work of Landcare and friends groups across the Mount Alexander/ Leanganook region.

Today we will have a little sticky beak into the wonderful work of Castlemaine Landcare Group.

 

Castlemaine Landcare Group volunteers hard at work (photo by Gerry Egan)

 

Castlemaine Landcare Group (CLG) has been running for 20 years and has achieved a great deal along Forest and Moonlight Creeks, close to the centre of Castlemaine VIC.  An area of gorse, blackberry and other weeds, has been transformed into a place of natural diversity and beauty. There is always more to do to encourage indigenous flora and fauna and deal with the ever-present weed challenges. CLG are a welcoming and well-organised group, and are always pleased to see new volunteers join their regular working bees.

To explore some of CLG work head to the Happy Valley (or Leanganook) walking track alongside Forest Creek, from Happy Valley Road to Colles Rd, or the stretch of Moonlight Creek from Happy Valley Rd downstream to Forest Creek. This is a beautiful part of the local environment and showcases Castlemaine Landcare’s work over 20 years. The area is shown on the map below, with marked access points (eg. E2) and our names for work areas (eg., The Copses). This area stretches for about 1 km, and can be approached as one walk, or in parts.

 CLG has about 40 members plus a number of other regular helpers.  They work predominantly on the Crown Land along the creek reserves, with some involvement of neighbouring landholders. Working bees are usually held every fortnight. 

Further details can be found on the CLG website (castlemainelandcare.org.au) or Facebook page (facebook.com/CastlemaineLandcare)

This October, get out there and explore your local neighbourhood and see what plants and animals you can find in your local Landcare group’s sites!

A happy Kookaburra enjoying the scenery (photo by Gerry Egan)

The Sticky Beak Tour was made possible through the Victorian Landcare Grants with the North Central Catchment Management Authority.

 

 

Looking for landholders: Bursaria for butterflies

Posted on 27 September, 2022 by Ivan

The Castlemaine area is home to the largest remaining populations of the Eltham Copper Butterfly. Historically, survey efforts and management actions have focused on public land, yet we know there is potential butterfly habitat on adjoining private land. This habitat is under threat, particularly from urbanisation, weeds, changed fire regimes and grazing.

Connecting Country’s Bursaria for Butterflies project aims to protect and enhance priority habitat for the threatened Eltham Copper Butterfly (Paralucia pyrodiscus lucida) around Castlemaine VIC. We’ll achieve this through practical on-ground actions to reduce threats and improve the quality, quantity and connectivity of available butterfly habitat. We will work with key landholders to protect and restore priority butterfly habitat on their land. We’re supporting local landholders to control threats (including weeds and rabbits) and revegetate their land, focusing on the butterfly’s host plant, Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa).

Sweet Bursaria is a small prickly shrub that produces abundant small white flowers through summer. It’s a great habitat plant for wildlife and essential for Eltham Copper Butterflies. On warm spring nights their caterpillars climb Sweet Bursaria plants to feed, accompanied by their special attendant ants.

This project is funded by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as part of the Environment Restoration Fund and Threatened Species Strategy Action Plan.

Looking for local landholders

We are looking for interested landholders with properties (of at least 1 acre) adjacent to the known local populations of the Eltham Copper Butterfly.

Assistance for landholders

If your property is suitable for the project, we will:

  • Visit your property to identify remnant vegetation and assess its potential as butterfly habitat.
  • Discuss management actions and provide you with advice on how to protect, connect and enhance butterfly habitat on your property.
  • Provide suitable indigenous understory plants and plant guards for revegetation, with a focus on Sweet Bursaria.

For five key landholders with larger properties, we will also:

  • Develop a written property management plan setting our on-ground actions to protect and improve butterfly habitat.
  • Supply contractor support for weed and rabbit control, and revegetation planting.
  • Provide ongoing advice on how to manage your property as butterfly habitat.

Property selection criteria

Not every property will be suitable as Eltham Copper Butterfly habitat and we will prioritise properties that are closer to known butterfly sightings. We’re looking for properties that meet the following criteria.

Land with:

  • Minimum of 0.4 hectares (1 acre) land size with space for revegetation planting
  • Proximity (within 1 km) to Kalimna Park, Castlemaine Botanical Gardens northern section, Chewton Bushlands (Dingo Park Rd region), Walmer Forest Reserve (near southern end of Woodbrook Rd) and Campbells Creek (near Broad Rd).
  • Suitable conditions for the target plant species to facilitate healthy growth.
  • No domestic stock grazing.

Landholders with:

  • Strong interest in managing their property for biodiversity conservation and restoration.
  • Commitment to planting and maintaining the revegetated plants.
  • Capacity to commit to future land management actions (e.g., weed and rabbit control, grazing exclusion, maintaining plant guards).

Landholder expressions of interest

If you meet the criteria and are keen protect and restore butterfly habitat on your land, please complete our expression of interest form – click here

Please return your expression of interest form to Connecting Country via email (info@connectingcountry.org.au). Expressions of interest close on the 17 October 2022

Learn more about the Eltham Copper Butterfly

For more information about the Eltham Copper Butterfly – click here
You may also enjoy the following video, courtesy of N-danger-D.

 

Announcing Connecting Country AGM – 19 November 2022

Posted on 26 September, 2022 by Ivan

Connecting Country is delighted to announce our Annual General Meeting (AGM) for 2022. After two years of online AGMs, we finally meet at the magnificent Campbells Creek Community Centre in person. Hurrah!

Please join us for this free event on Saturday 19 November 2022 at 2.00 pm for brief AGM formalities, afternoon tea and our special guest presenter. As usual, it will be much more than an AGM!

Our theme is ‘Caring for large old trees in our landscape’ and we will feature a special presentation:

Large old trees: Caring and sharing their future
Chris Pocknee – Landscape and Biodiversity Conservation Ecologist with Biolinks Alliance

Chris is an ecologist with a passion for understanding the threats facing native fauna and ecosystems, and how we can address these issues. Chris grew up in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne and completed his MSc at the University of Melbourne in 2017 before undertaking an internship with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in NSW. Chris has recently submitted his PhD thesis at the University of Queensland, where he studied the impacts of fire and feral cats on the Endangered northern bettong. He relishes collaborative ecological work, and is passionate about empowering communities to conserve and recover local biodiversity. Chris loves exploring the outdoors, camping, wildlife photography and football.

Join Chris to learn about how to care for old trees in our landscape, and how vital they are to a host of woodland birds and other wildlife.

Everyone is most welcome! Please register your attendance for the meeting – click here

 

AGM formalities

The following Connecting Country AGM 2022 documents are available for download:

Our independant financial audit report 2022 is  in progress and will be available in early November prior to the AGM.

Please note only current Connecting Country members can vote in the AGM. To become a member or renew your membership – click here

If you have any questions, please email info@connectingcountry.org.au

Thank you to the Ian & Shirley Norman Foundation for their invaluable support of our ‘Caring for large old trees’ project.

 

Landcare sticky beak tour – Saturday 8 October 2022

Posted on 21 September, 2022 by Hadley Cole

The Mount Alexander region Landcare sticky beak tour is a celebration of Landcare and friends groups across the region! Many of the natural spaces you can experience in our beautiful region have been lovingly brought back to life and cared for by the incredibly dedicated network of Landcare and friends groups of the region.

Our Landcare sticky beak tour provides an opportunity for our local Landcare and environment groups to showcase their work both online over the month of October 2022, and in person at the launch on Saturday 8 October 2022 at Honeycomb Reserve (end of Honeycomb Rd), Campbells Creek VIC from 10.00 am to 12 noon.

Connecting Country will launch the project in partnership with local Landcare and friends groups, with a walking tour in and around sites in the Campbells Creek area. This is a great opportunity to hear about the activities of local Landcare groups, meet some of the Landcarers and share their stories. Everyone is welcome and morning tea will be provided. Sturdy walking shoes and drink bottles are recommended.

Please book to assist us with planning.

To book for this free event – click here

If you have questions about the Landcare sticky beak tour please contact Connecting Country’s Landcare Facilitator, Hadley Cole – hadley@connectingcountry.org.au

This project is funded by North Central Catchment Management Authority as part of the Victorian Landcare Grants.

 

Rapid Response Landcare Recovery competition – and the winner is….

Posted on 7 September, 2022 by Hadley Cole

As part of our Rapid Response Landcare Recovery project funded by the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, Connecting Country ran a competition for Landcare groups across the Mount Alexander region to win a plant voucher for 50 native plants plus 50 plant guards.

We had some very competitive entries, which made the decision too difficult. Thank you to all the groups who took the time to send in their entries. In the end we drew the winner out of the hat!

And the winner is…..Golden Point Landcare! 

Golden Point Landcare will use the 50 plants and guards to ‘replace a ghastly gorse plant with a gorgeous “good” plant in the Chinamans Point area to show what a difference one small act can make to the health of our local bush.’

Congratulations Golden Point Landcare! May all 50 plants flourish and thrive!

Connecting Country sincerely thanks the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust for funding this project and making restoration efforts accessible for Landcare and friends groups across the region.

 

Local tubestock ready for planting (photo by Ivan Carter)

 

Bird of the month: Brown-headed Honeyeater

Posted on 6 September, 2022 by Ivan

Welcome to our 29th Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are blessed to have both the brilliant Damian Kelly and talented Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, accompanied by their stunning photos.

Brown-headed Honeyeater (Melithreptus brevirostris)

Walking through Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve (Sandon VIC) in late August, with my camera in hand, I observed a honeyeater intently doing something in a bunch of leaves. I couldn’t see clearly what was going on until I got to study the photos. Turns out it was a Brown-headed Honeyeater in the very early stages of constructing a nest, using spider web and fleece from a sheep to build the anchor point from which the nest will hang. Thus, this month Damian and I bring you the Brown-headed Honeyeater.

In our region there are three fairly similar honeyeaters with white napes – the White-naped, Black-chinned and Brown-headed Honeyeaters. They are often tricky to identify without close views. The eyes have it, with White-naped having an orange eye ring, the Black-chinned with a blue eye ring and the Brown-head with a pale eye ring. In many ways the Brown-headed Honeyeater is a nondescript bird with grey and brown predominating. It favours upper foliage and you are more likely to hear it than see it. And there is the added complication that it can be mistaken for the young of the related White-naped Honeyeater.

I find the Brown-headed Honeyeater to be shyer and slightly smaller than many other honeyeater species. They tend to hang back at the bird bath and patiently wait until the brasher birds have finished splashing, shouting at each other (Fuscous Honeyeaters), and generally causing mayhem. Although a honeyeater, its diet primarily consists of insects and spiders, as well as nectar when available. Some studies have shown a pattern of about 35% nectar and 65% insects.

Communal behaviour is marked in the species, with them regularly travelling and foraging in groups. In winter family groups from adjacent territories often form large wandering mobs. Birds may preen each other and family parties often roost in huddles, usually in slender foliage near the tops of trees. Similar to other species that roost together, the Brown-headed Honeyeater huddles have the mature birds take up the outer perches with the young birds sandwiched in-between. Often adjacent birds face in different directions, which probably makes it easier to pack closer together as well as providing a wider view of possible predators.

Brown-headed Honeyeater taking flight (photo Damian Kelly)

 

Nests are cup-shaped structures suspended from branches. Nesting is sometimes assisted by additional birds. The material mainly consists of spiders’ webs used to bind together such things as horse and cattle hair, and even Koala fur has been recorded. Strangely, cattle hair is usually from white animals not those with darker colours.

Two or three eggs are laid with incubation and feeding of young by both parents. One or more auxiliary birds may assist in incubation and the feeding of the young. Generally, this species moves within a large home range, with movements dependent on food availability. Bird banding studies have confirmed this, with the 99% of recoveries within 10 km of the banding site. Distribution is from southern Queensland through to Western Australia, mainly closer to coastal area and inland rivers.

Late winter and early spring are exciting times in the bush, with all sorts of breeding activities going on. Such a great time to stumble on interesting and curious animal behaviours. The following photos show a Brown-headed Honeyeater in the very early stages of nest building, high up in a Box tree. The anchor is being made, from which a cup-shaped nest will hang, hidden by leaves.

Brown-headed Honeyeater starting to build a new nest high up in a Box tree (photo by Jane Rusden)

 

Brown-headed Honeyeater in the very early stages of nest building (photo by Jane Rusden)

 

To listen to the brown-headed Honeyeater call – click here

Jane Rusden & Damian Kelly

 

Wettenhall celebrates with Professor Tim Flannery – 16 September 2022

Posted on 6 September, 2022 by Frances

Our friends and supporters at Wettenhall Environment Trust are celebrating their 25th birthday in style with a special event at the Melbourne Museum.

Join environmental luminaries Tim Flannery and Ann Jones as they tease out the monumental environmental problems we face.

Professor Tim Flannery will make the keynote address. ABC journalist and presenter, Dr Ann Jones, will then moderate a panel session during which Tim and a diverse range of people discuss – where to from here?

Date: Friday 16 September 2022 5:00 – 8.00 pm
Location: Melbourne Museum Theatre, 11 Nicholson Street, Carlton VIC 3053
To view the event flyer – click here
To purchase tickets – click here

Full-price tickets are $50 and student tickets are $30.

To learn more about the Wettenhall Environment Trust and their amazing 25 years of grant support for projects that make a positive difference to the natural living environment – click here

May be an image of 2 people, outdoors and text that says "25VEARS 25 1? Wettenhall YEARS ENVIRONMENTTRUS 0 OF 5 ×N Professor Tim Flannery was our first guest speaker at our lecture series at the Museum. Now, quarter of century later after the launching of Wettenhall Environment Trust, he's back making second keynote speech. ABC journalist and presrenter, Dr Ann Jones will then lead a panel session at which Tim and a diverse range of people discuss- where to from here? 25 YEARS 25 GRANTMAKIN ANT"

 

Rapid Response Landcare Recovery: thank you and good luck!

Posted on 1 September, 2022 by Hadley Cole

Photo from the Connecting Country archive

Thank you to all Landcare groups for your entries for the 2022 plants giveaway as part of our Rapid Response Landcare Recovery project. We received amazing responses from you all and it will be a tough decision!

We will be announcing the winner early next week so stay tuned via the Connecting Country blog and Facebook page. Good luck!

This opportunity was made possible due to the Rapid Response Landcare Recovery project funded by the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust. 

 

Celebrate 25 years with Harcourt Valley Landcare

Posted on 1 September, 2022 by Frances

Its’s been 25 years since a small group of passionate locals came together to form Harcourt Valley Landcare, near Castlemaine in central Victoria. Many projects and volunteer hours have helped protect the unique Harcourt Valley environment.

Harcourt Valley Landcare invite the Mount Alexander community and Landcare network to come and celebrate with them over a morning tea from 10.00 am to 12.00 pm on Sunday 25 September 2022 at Leanganook Campground, Mount Alexander VIC. All are welcome to join and hear from guest speaker and local legend, George Milford.

For further event details please refer to their flyer – click here

If you wish to attend please RSVP by 16 September 2022 via email: info@harcourtvalleylandcare.org

But that’s not all!

Harcourt Valley Landcare just published their brand new, fabulous brochure promoting their wonderful people and beautiful landscape to prospective members.

To view the new Harcourt Valley Landcare brochure – click here

To learn more about Harcourt Valley Landcare, please visit their website – click here

We wish Harcourt Valley Landcare a very happy birthday and many congratulations for their many achievements over the last 25 years.

 

Welcome Anna, thank you Jacqui!

Posted on 1 September, 2022 by Frances

Thank you Jacqui!

Connecting Country would like to extend a warm thank you to our dear colleague and friend, Jacqui Slingo. Jacqui has recently moved on from Connecting Country to focus on her work at the Wetland Revival Trust and building her house.

Jacqui initially joined Connecting Country in 2018 as a Project Officer while Bonnie was on parental leave. She then supported our 30 Landcare groups as our Landcare Facilitator for the Mount Alexander region, while Asha took extended leave. Jacqui went on to make numerous vital contributions to Connecting Country, such as providing essential ‘virtual’ office support and overhauling our IT system to support remote work during COVID-19 lockdowns. Jacqui led development of our ‘Healthy Landscape’ guide, and juggled multiple admin tasks behind the scenes, including maintaining our member database, coordinating fundraising drives and organising events.

We are so grateful for Jacqui’s adaptability and the enormous contribution she made to Connecting Country over a challenging four years. We wish her the very best at the Wetland Revival Trust.

Scroll through the following gallery to enjoy some of Jacqui’s memorable moments!

Welcome Anna! 

Anna is a terrestrial ecologist with experience working in environmental management for state government and private sectors throughout eastern Australia. She has a passion for the conservation of lesser-known species, particularly reptiles. Anna’s PhD explored the conservation biology and ecology of some of Victoria’s rarest lizards: the Guthega skink, mountain skink and swamp skink.   

Anna lives in Castlemaine with her partner and enjoys tending her garden and looking after her ever-growing menagerie. 

Anna now works for Connecting Country one day per week (on a Monday) and provides organisational support across all our projects. She has already been an enormous help with delivering our ‘Future-proof our Forests’ project and work with Chewton Primary School. Anna can be contacted via anna@connectingcountry.org.au.

Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Anna!

Anna and students (photo by John Ellis)

 

A chance to win plants for your next Landcare project!

Posted on 24 August, 2022 by Jacqui

Landcare groups of the Mount Alexander region – we want to hear from you! 

We are delighted to announce a giveaway as part of our Rapid Response Landcare Recovery project. 

We encourage local Landcare groups to enter for a chance to win 50 plants and protective tree guards and stakes to use on one of your projects. 

To enter please answer this question in 100 words or less:
‘How would 50 plants and guards add value to one of your Landcare projects?’ 

Please respond via comments on this blog, email (hadley@connectingcountry.org.au) or on this post on the Connecting Country Facebook page. Make sure to identify your Landcare group in your response. 

Competition closes Wednesday 31 August 2022.

This competition is only open to Landcare groups within the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria.

Our Rapid Response Landcare Recovery project was made possible due to the generosity of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and their commitment to supporting the restoration and protection of sustainable environments across Victoria. 

Bonnie and Ivan from Connecting Country holding a selection of plants (photo by Jacqui Slingo)