Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

April bird walks – Birdlife Castlemaine District

Posted on 2 April, 2019 by Asha

Birdlife Castlemaine District have two great walks coming up in April 2019:

Saturday 6 April – Coliban Main Channel, Tyquins Road, Taradale

This walk follows the Coliban water channel. With a reliable water supply, plenty of edge habitat and open forest, this track often produces good lists of birds. It is a flat walk mostly, as it follows the contour alongside the water channel. Access is via a stile over the fence. The walk will be led by Damian Kelly, local bird expert, photographer and author of Castlemaine Bird Walks: A guide to walks and birds in the Castlemaine District.

Location and directions: Coliban Main Channel, Tyquins Road. From Taradale take the Old Calder Highway towards Malmsbury. About 1.9km from Taradale turn right into Conlans Road and follow this about 700m to a T-intersection. Turn left here, which is the continuation of Conlans Road, for about 1.2km until you reach Tyquins Road. Turn left into Tyquins Road and continue for about 1.6km until you reach Channel Track on your right. The old Tyquins Cottage is situated here. You can park here or go up the rough track another 150m and park near the gate.

Time: Meet at Tyquins Cottage at 9:00am, or to carpool from Castlemaine meet at 8:30am outside Castlemaine Community House (formerly Continuing Ed), Templeton Street.

Sunday 14 April – Bald Hill Reserve, Kyneton (rescheduled from March)

This is a very special bird walk at Bald Hill Reserve, Kyneton, jointly led by Friends of Bald Hill Reserve and BirdLife Castlemaine District. The Reserve is a very beautiful and special place, with 3 distinct habitat types. The Friends group has achieved so much in helping the public appreciate its significance and, with Carolyn Robb from the Friends group bringing her incredible local knowledge, this is a walk not to be missed. To discover more about Bald Hill Reserve click here.

Location and directions: Bald Hill Reserve, Mount St Mary’s Lane, Kyneton. Approach Mount St Mary’s Lane from the south, off Pipers Creek Street – the Reserve is well signposted on your left.

Time: Meet at Bald Hill Reserve at 9:00am, or to carpool from Castlemaine meet at 8:15am outside Castlemaine Community House (formerly Continuing Ed), Templeton Street.

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 the bird walks program, you can email castlemaine@birdlife.org.au, or call Judy Hopley (0425 768 559) or Asha Bannon (0418 428 721).

The adorable Jacky Winter. Source: Peter Turner

 

 

A recent visit from a pie eater

Posted on 28 March, 2019 by Ivan

We received an exciting and amusing email this week from Saide and Gary, regarding a pie-eating guest she had visiting her home. Below is a copy of the email and some great photos. Thanks, Saide!

 

We found this tail …. And waited

Next there was a body attached to the tail

Bottoms Up!

Is it a possum, very determined to get into that nook?

Then it fully appeared. The creature spent some time exploring the scientific data sheets then, finding a cosy nook, among the papers, tuan curled up and went to sleep, but only after eating a morsel of warmed meat pie.

I swear the dear creature whispered ‘thank-you’, before nodding off for the rest of the day.

By 6pm tuan was off into the world of Connecting Country’s nestboxes, eucalyptus and wildflowers to be, in the Heathy Dry Forest ridgetop adjacent to this house!

 

The Dead Tree Detective- Scientists need your help spotting dead trees

Posted on 28 March, 2019 by Ivan

Have you seen dead or dying trees in your area? No doubt with the current hot and dry conditions, many of us have seen trees under severe moisture and heat stress.

A collective of concerned scientists have launched a new citizen science project, The Dead Tree Detective, which aims to record where and when trees have died in Australia. Unfortunately, the current drought across many regions of Australia has been so severe that some native trees have died or are under severe stress. It is important to document these occurrences, which will assist  scientists in understanding and predicting how native forests and woodlands are vulnerable to climate extremes.

This project will allow people Australia-wide to report observations of tree death. In the past, there have been many occurrences of large-scale tree death that were initially identified by concerned members of the public such as farmers, bushwalkers, bird watchers or landholders. Collecting these observations is an important way to monitor the health of trees and ecosystems.

Climate extremes have pushed some of our local iconic native trees to their limits of survival, so it is essential to document which species are surviving better than others under these conditions. This project allows you to upload photos of your trees and answer a few questions to help identify the possible causes. You will find some information about each of these causes in the ‘Resources’ section. You can even revisit the locations in following months to document whether trees recover or not. To see what other records there are in your area, go to the ‘Data’ section. See the ‘Blog’ for details of any new major tree death events that we have become aware of.

Please click here to upload photos regarding this project and to read the full project description, which is hosted on the Atlas of Living Australia.

Red Box at St Brigid’s Catholic Church Maldon photo by Bev Phillips of Maldon Urban Landcare Group)

 

Managing foxes in urban and semi-urban areas

Posted on 28 March, 2019 by Ivan

Connecting Country often hears concerns from landholders and other community members about the impacts of local fox populations. Here is some information about foxes in urban and semi-urban areas, and some tips about what you can do to help keep fox numbers under control and reduce their impacts on native wildlife and livestock.

Foxes are one of Australia’s most serious pest animals and are often seen in townships and semi-urban areas, where their food sources are easy to come by. Foxes are known to prey on native animals and livestock, and are a huge threat to many of our threatened birds, mammals, and other wildlife. They have also been estimated to have an annual economic impact of over $227 million dollars across Australia.

It may be hard to imagine, but fox densities are higher in urban and semi-urban areas than rural areas, with highest densities in Victoria existing in Port Melbourne! There are a limited number of control and deterrent methods available to landowners in urban areas, where poisoning and shooting are not an option.

Effective fox management uses a combination of the available control measures that are feasible on your property. These may include a combination of the following control methods:

  • Harbour removal: Foxes often make dens under metal piles or blackberry and gorse bushes. Fallen timber can act as harbour, but it is also important habitat for lots of native wildlife, so be careful if you decide to move it.
  • Den fumigation and ripping: This involves fumigating the den and then using machinery or tools to destroy the den complex (by a qualified contractor).
  • Property hygiene: Ensuring food scraps, animal carcasses and pet food are secure will avoid attracting foxes.
  • Exclusion fencing: Large and secure fencing to prevent foxes from entering your property.
  • Guardian animals: Some producers have successfully used trained guard dogs (e.g., Anatolian shepherds, Maremma sheep dogs) to protect their flocks from fox predation. The presence of domestic dogs may discourage foxes from visiting suburban back yards.

Foxes can often be seen during the middle of the day in urban areas hunting for food (Photo source: Agriculture Victoria)

Unfortunately, fox populations are very resilient to conventional methods of control and can quickly breed up to infest areas where they have been removed. One issue with controlling or deterring foxes on smaller properties is that foxes are highly mobile and can travel up to 10 km per night. Another important point to remember is that rabbits form a major part of fox diets, therefore controlling rabbits on your property may also help to reduce the number of foxes in the area.

For more information on invasive animals, please visit the Agriculture Victoria Website by clicking here.

A fox caught on a motion sensor camera next to its den (photo source: Agriculture Victoria)

 

 

 

 

Reminder to register: Camp Out on the Mount 2019

Posted on 21 March, 2019 by Ivan

Just a reminder to register for the Camp Out on the Mount 2019!

CLICK HERE to visit the booking website and register for this free event. This helps us to prepare for the right amount of people for each activity and create a fun environment for all (and provide plenty of food!). Updates will also be emailed to all who register closer to the weekend, with further information on activities and what to expect.

For more information, CLICK HERE to visit our web page about this year’s Camp Out.

When: Saturday 6 – Sunday 7 April 2019
Where: Leanganook Camping Ground, Joseph Young Drive, Mount Alexander Regional Park, Faraday VIC
What to bring: Camping gear and supplies, food for Sunday breakfast, gold coin donation or Saturday night BBQ, weather-appropriate clothes, sturdy shoes and sun protection.

If you have any questions, please call Asha on (03) 5472 1594 or email asha@connectingcountry.org.au

 

Local couple donate $1 million for vital habitat links

Posted on 21 March, 2019 by Ivan

In a major act of biodiversity kindness and long-term vision, local residents Caroline and Terry Bellair have donated savings of $1 million to Bush Heritage Australia to convert private property into nature reserves and help create habitat links for plants and animals to adapt to a changing climate. Terry and Caroline are members of Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare and cherish their local environment and the achievements of their active Landcare group.

Some of the inspiration for the couple came after hearing Jeroen van Veen from Bush Heritage talk at an event organised by Connecting Country in Campbells Creek in 2018, called ‘Planting for the Future’ – part of our ‘Future-Proof your Restoration’ series. This event featured three guest speakers on the topic of adapting to a changing climate (click here for details). Jeroen spoke about Bush Heritage’s private property conservation program and some of the amazing outcomes the organisation has achieved through purchasing private properties with high conservation value. For example, Bush Heritage is working to link up isolated bits of habitat around St Arnaud and Wedderburn in northwest Victoria. Habitat fragmentation is a huge conservation challenge, with many areas of forest cleared for farming and mining, resulting in small, disconnected habitat havens and climate refuges.

The day after the Connecting Country event, the family began the process of donating a million dollars to Bush Heritage. The original plan was a bequest in their will, but that was soon changed to an immediate donation, allowing them to see the impacts of the Bush Heritage purchase. Over 15 years, Bush Heritage has bought more than 1,500 hectares to connect habitat in the Kara Kara-Wedderburn Landscape.

Bush Heritage also hopes to buy another nearby block with the Bellair donation, on top of the 203 hectare block near Emu, which will help form a chain between Wedderburn and the Kara Kara National Park.

For more information on the Bellair’s generous donation, click here.

Caroline and Terry Bellair have donated a generous and long-lasting gift to the planet. (Source: Meredith O’Shea, The Age)

 

 

 

 

Queensland Fruit Fly confirmed in Harcourt

Posted on 19 March, 2019 by Ivan

Harcourt Valley Fruit Fly Action Group has just confirmed the presence of Queensland Fruit Fly in southern Harcourt in central Victoria

Fighting fruit fly requires everyone in the community to help manage their land. Details about the required actions will be provided shortly. For now, to help the community please:

  • Practice fruit hygiene – Don’t leave ripe fruit on the tree or ground, including fruiting veggies like tomatoes. Be cautious about sharing fruit.
  • Set fruit fly traps – Buy traps such as BioTraps from Bendigo Wholefoods, MacDonald’s Nursery (Bendigo) or Bunnings, or make your own.

A mature Queensland fruit fly (photo by Agriculture Victoria)


If you find fruit with maggots in it:

  1.  Place fruit into sealed plastic bags.
  2.  Leave the bags in the sun for 5 -7 days to kill maggots, or boil or freeze.
  3.  Put the bags into your garbage bin. Do not put affected fruit into your compost.
  4.  Send an email to harcourtfruitfly@gmail.com with your name, address, phone number and photo if you can.

 

Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni) is a significant horticultural pest that permanently inhabits parts of the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, and increasingly parts of Victoria. It attacks a wide range of host plants, decreasing production and making fruit inedible. This can have severe consequences for local and international trade.

While Queensland fruit fly activity generally increases in spring as the weather gets warmer, it is not strictly tied to a particular season. If sufficiently warm weather persists into autumn or winter, fruit flies can continue to reproduce, if a suitable host fruit or fruiting vegetable is available.

Traps are designed to lure and kill adult fruit flies. Some traps are used to monitor Queensland fruit fly numbers only, indicating if fruit flies are active in your area and when you need to act. These traps are often referred to as male-only traps. Other traps control Queensland fruit fly populations by catching females as well as males.

If Queensland fruit flies are in your garden, you need to actively control these populations with a trap that can catch females as well as males. These fruit fly traps contain a protein which attract females then kills them. Follow the product instructions how set up and place the traps. Fruit fly traps are usually placed in host trees, but they can also be placed around the garden to draw fruit flies away from your produce.

Watch the video below for more information.

 

 

 

 

Future of our Forests – consultation ends 31 March 2019

Posted on 16 March, 2019 by Ivan

The Victorian Government, in partnership with Traditional Owners, is embarking on a major program to reform our forest management and guide the modernisation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements. This is an important opportunity to influence the future management of our forests, both in our region and across the state.

Victoria’s public forests are valuable in their own right and important to the community. The connection that Victoria’s Traditional Owners and Aboriginal communities have with Country is core to their culture and wellbeing. Forests provide Victorian communities with a broad range of uses and values that include clean water and air, habitat trees, biodiversity conservation, recreation and connection with nature, and climate change mitigation and refuge.

This is your chance to have a say in the modernisation of Victoria’s Regional Forestry Agreements and forest management system. The aim is to develop a vision and strategy for a future-ready, responsive management system. Outcomes of the engagement will inform the strategic direction for future forest management in Victoria, negotiation of Regional Forest Agreements with the Commonwealth government, and reform of Victoria’s regulatory framework and forest management planning.

Engagement aims to focus on understanding how people value and use our forests, seek people’s views on a vision for future forest management, and include joint engagement with the Commonwealth government specifically focussed on Regional Forest Agreements. This will be supported by other activities including workshops, meetings, drop-in centres and listening posts at community events.

Click on the following link to access a survey to provide your views on how management of Victoria’s forests can be improved, and what you would like from forests into the future:
https://engage.vic.gov.au/future-of-our-forests

Public consultation via the survey closes at midnight on Sunday 31 March 2019.

Winter dawn at Strangways Forest (photo by Tanya Loos)

 

 

The remarkable world of wild orchids with Newstead Landcare – 21 March 2019

Posted on 14 March, 2019 by Ivan

Newstead Landcare group are delighted to present a talk by Emily Noble on ‘The remarkable world of wild orchids’ at 8.00 pm on Thursday 21 March 2019 at Newstead Community Centre.

Emily is the Secretary of the Field Naturalists’ Club of Ballarat and Business Manager of the Ballarat Environment Network. She’s also Coordinator of the 540 ha Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary in Linton (Victoria) for Birdlife Australia, and proud owner of a bush block south-west of Ballarat that is home to at least fifty different wild orchids. However, she still finds time to pursue her interest in orchids and their interactions with the co-inhabitants of their environment.

Trying to catch these interactions on camera provides her with many unexpected insights into their ecology, helping inform her conservation activities, and providing a source of ongoing wonder.

Come along to learn more about these remarkable plants and their fascinating relationships with their world. Newstead Landcare welcomes everyone to Emily’s presentation and supper afterwards (and promises there will be no business meeting to sit through!). 

Pollinating bee on Golden Sun Moth Orchid (Photo by Emily Noble)

 

The remarkable world of wild orchids’ talk by Emily Noble
When:
Thursday 21 March 2019 at 8.00 pm
Where:
Newstead Community Centre, 9 Lyons St, Newstead VIC
Bring: a gold coin donation would help be appreciated to help cover costs

For those interested in reading more about the Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary in Linton, please click here.

 

Regenerative regions event – 19 March 2019

Posted on 14 March, 2019 by Frances

Regenerative regions: from renewable energy to carbon farming, from the local to the global

Shedshaker Brewery’s Taproom in Castlemaine is hosting an evening sustainability session as part of an emerging series of stimulating talks and networking drinks:

What does regional leadership on climate change look like? What would it take for Castlemaine and surrounds to become a carbon positive region, capable of meeting our energy needs and drawing valuable carbon out of the atmosphere to create healthy soils and flourishing agriculture? Join this event for a discussion with local experts on the barriers and opportunities to large-scale uptake of some powerful climate solutions for our region. Three guest panelists from Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, Regenerative Australian Farmers and Climateworks will introduce the Renewable Energy Roadmap being developed for this region, the regenerative farming initiatives underway and the global perspective on sub-national government leadership.

Panel discussion moderated by Jodi Newcombe of Carbon Arts.

No charge, pizza menu available, drinks at bar prices.

Regenerative regions: from renewable energy to carbon farming, from the local to the global
When:
Tuesday 19 March 2019 at 6.30 pm for a 7.00 pm start
Where: Shedshaker Taproom, The Mill, 9 Walker St, Castlemaine VIC

For further information contact Jodi Newcombe on 0410 838 083 or see: https://www.facebook.com/events/2146057402373692/

 

 

 

Linking up Landcare

Posted on 14 March, 2019 by Asha

So many stories, so little time! Thirteen of our local Landcare and Friends groups shared stories of their work with about forty other fellow Landcarers and other community members at the recent Landcare Link-up. It was great to see so many inspiring Landcarers in the same space, and hear about the great work being done in our community to care for the land.

With so many stories to share, we can’t fit them all into one blog post! So here is a small taste of what each group spoke about – if anything piques your interest, please go ahead and contact the group to chat more!

Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare – Proposed project for platypus monitoring using DNA sampling in Campbells Creek.

Nuggetty Land Protection Group – Launch of their most recent publication, the ‘A History of Seventeen Central Victoria Schools’, and their struggle with kangaroo population numbers.

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group – Using Cochineal beetles as biocontrol to support Wheel Cactus management.

Maldon Urban Landcare Group – Monitoring and protecting large old trees on public land in Maldon.

Elphinstone Land Management Association – Successful projects including an arboretum, winter solstice bonfire and nature walks.

Golden Point Landcare – Dealing with the challenges of climate change impacts, e.g., new weeds, lower revegetation survival rates.

McKenzies Hill Action and Landcare – Impacts of cats on wildlife and challenges of encouraging responsible pet ownership.

Muckleford Catchment Landcare – Keeping Landcare fun with activities such as bike rides, kid-friendly working bees and social gatherings.

Barkers Creek Landcare and Wildlife Group – Successes of their group, including holding meetings over morning tea at working bees, the ‘B-team’ works crew, and following up on-ground works with maintenance.

Friends of the Box-Ironbark ForestsFOBIF’s 2019 walks program, which are held on the third Sunday of the month.

Guildford and Upper Loddon Landcare – Revegetation project on the Guildford Plateau to provide wildlife corridors and shelter belts.

Taradale Landcare – Collecting and propagating seed has created many learning and community engagement opportunities.

Post Office Hill Action Group – The history of Post Office Hill and information about a new map soon to be released.

For contact details and more information about the Landcare and Friends groups in the Mount Alexander region, CLICK HERE.

 

 

ResourceSmart Schools Awards 2019 – now open

Posted on 13 March, 2019 by Asha

The 2019 ResourceSmart Schools Awards are now open.

ResourceSmart Schools is a free program offered by Sustainability Victoria that supports Victorian schools to embed sustainability across the school facilities, community and curriculum, while saving resources and money for schools.

The awards:

  • Recognise and celebrate Victorian schools’ community, curriculum and campus improvements towards environmental sustainability.
  • Highlight their contributions to embedding sustainability and taking action on climate change.

Eligibility:

  • Entries are open to all Victorian schools, including government, independent and Catholic schools.
  • Entries must comply with the eligibility requirements of the selected category, and the awards terms and conditions of entry.

2019 award categories:

  • ResourceSmart School Teacher of the Year.
  • Teacher of the Year.
  • Student Action Tea of the Year (primary and secondary).
  • Community Sustainability Leadership School of the Year (primary and secondary).
  • Sustainability in the curriculum leadership school of the year (primary and secondary).
  • Sustainable Campus of the Year (primary and secondary)


Entries close: 1 April 2019
.

To enter: go to www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/schoolsawards

 

Online tools for accessing and sharing biodiversity information – Friday 22 March 2019

Posted on 7 March, 2019 by Ivan

Connecting Country is excited to host an interactive workshop in conjunction with the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation on Friday 22 of March in Castlemaine.

Hooded Robins are a key species for our monitoring program (photo by Geoff Park)

This interactive workshop is part of Connecting Country’s Habitat Health Check project (click here for more information), funded by the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust over the next two years. This project aims to review our long-term monitoring programs, to shift to a monitoring model that empowers our community to conduct robust biodiversity monitoring, and, importantly, to ensure that the data we collect is being shared and used appropriately.

To meet this third goal, we are working with the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) at Federation University Australia. CeRDI has developed many award-winning web-based spatial information and knowledge portals that provide public access to data sets that are often hidden from view. The team at CeRDI have great resources that are relevant to us at Connecting Country and are well worth checking out.

The interactive workshop will cover two important databases in detail:

  • State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams (SWIFFT) – a knowledge sharing network for biodiversity conservation and threatened species
  • Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity (VVB) – a web portal containing spatial information on environmental values, conservation activities and research

At the workshop we will:

  • Showcase projects run by community groups and researchers
  • Participate in an interactive session about sharing and accessing biodiversity data
  • Explore ways to improve knowledge sharing through online platforms
  • Network with other biodiversity organisations and community groups in your region

Please come and join us at the lovely Garden Room within the grounds of Buda Historic Home and Garden for this free workshop. Workshop numbers are limited, so please book.

Workshop: Online tools for accessing and sharing biodiversity information
When: Friday 22 March 2019 from 9.30 am to 2.30 pm
Where: Buda Garden Room, 42 Hunter St, Castlemaine VIC
Bookings: to book online please click here

For further details please contact Ivan Carter at Connecting Country on 03 5472 1594 or email ivan@connectingcountry.org.au

 

Monitoring and engagement staff update

Posted on 7 March, 2019 by Frances

Farewell Tanya

Last week we farewelled our much-loved colleague Tanya, who is moving on to pursue exciting ventures involving writing and birds. During her five years at Connecting Country Tanya generously shared her incredible knowledge of local ecology. Her enthusiasm for local woodland birds and other animals is infectious, and was the force behind our monitoring and engagement programs. We appreciate her warmth and patience in running engaging events, and openly sharing knowledge with beginners and experts alike. We wish Tanya all the best.

Scroll through to enjoy these pictures by Tanya and friends from Tanya’s delightful farewell picnic in the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens.

 

Introducing Jess and Ivan

It is with much pleasure that Connecting Country welcomes our brand new Monitoring and Engagement Coordinators, Jess and Ivan, who officially started last week with a handover from Tanya. Welcome Jess and Ivan – we are delighted to have you both on board!

Jess Lawton – Monitoring Coordinator

Related image

Jess will already be known to many through her previous hard work with Connecting Country’s nestbox program. Jess is now finishing her PhD on the conservation biology and landscape ecology of the Brush-tailed Phascogale. Her detailed research into this threatened species has included setting 354 camera traps for 14,160 trap nights across more than 20 public reserves and 40 private properties across the Mount Alexander region, resulting in over 350,000 camera trap images from 116 study sites! Jess has also worked as an Environmental Project Officer with Nillumbik Shire Council and Nillumbik Landcare Network, working on a forest health monitoring project in the north eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

Jess is based in Melbourne with her adorable dog Bunsen, and splits her time between Melbourne and Castlemaine. She will be working at Connecting Country on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Ivan Carter – Engagement Coordinator

Ivan has worked in environmental management and community engagement roles with state government and private enterprises over the past two decades. He brings a strong background in environmental science, community engagement, event management, reporting and project management. Ivan has run a small environmental consulting business and been Communications and Engagement Officer for a small environmental community group. He’s run stakeholder forums, workshops and field days, produced landowner and roadside signs, and prepared reports, media articles and communications products. Ivan manages social media pages for two other community groups, and a website for the Victorian Serrated Tussock Working Party. You may have heard him interviewed on local radio and ABC Country Hour!

Ivan lives in the Daylesford area with his young family, and has a passion for soccer and food gardening. He will be based at Connecting Country on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

 

Be on the lookout for declared noxious weed Orange Hawkweed

Posted on 7 March, 2019 by Frances

Orange Hawkweed

We recently became aware of the discovery of Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) in the Trentham, Daylesford and Blackwood regions, and wanted to remind Connecting Country members about this highly invasive weed. Orange hawkweed is easily identified by its bright orange daisy-like flowers with square ended petals. The flowers are up to 15 mm across and arranged in clusters on the stem. It is a state prohibited weed in Victoria, the highest category in the noxious weed list and is very invasive and difficult to remove once established.

Locals Jenny and Euan have volunteered up in Victoria’s high country doing line searches for the three species of Hawkweed found there, and know how difficult it is to control once it gets established. We hope that any sightings in our region can be reported quickly and managed appropriately.

For more information on this weed visit the Agriculture Victoria website here: click here

For information about the three species of Hawkweed present in Victoria: click here

All sightings of orange hawkweed should be reported to Agriculture Victoria immediately by calling 136 186 or emailing weed.spotters@ecodev.vic.gov.au.

Remember that all our major weeds were once new and emerging weeds that weren’t addressed or controlled in a timely manner!

 

Farm fencing course – 31 March 2019

Posted on 26 February, 2019 by Frances

Beginner’s farm fencing: a hands-on course
Sunday 31 March 2019 from 8.30 am – 12.30 pm in Harcourt VIC

Good fences are an essential management tool for protecting large old trees, remnant habitat and revegetation from grazing damage.

Jarrod Coote, local farmer and experienced fence-builder, is running this course for anyone who wants to repair an old fence or learn to build a new one.

A flyer is available: click here

For bookings and further information please contact Jarrod by email via info@hillsideacres.com.au

 

Needle grasses and native grasses

Posted on 26 February, 2019 by Ivan

Distinguishing needle grasses from native grasses

Needle grasses, in particular, Chilean Needle Grass (Nassella neesiana), are becoming serious pasture and environmental weeds in south-eastern Australia, including around the Mount Alexander region. They are very invasive and form dense infestations in pastures, bushland and roadsides. They can tolerate drought and will seed prolifically, giving them a great potential to spread and over-run existing vegetation. It has been estimated that the potential distribution for Chilean Needle Grass alone exceeds 40 million hectares across Australia.

A large, dense infestation of needle grass near Malmsbury (photo by Connecting Country)

One of the biggest challenges facing successful treatment of needle grasses is identifying infestations before they become large and dominating in the landscape. Thankfully, a local community champion recently produced an information sheet on how to differentiate needle and native grasses, titled ‘Distinguishing between needle grasses and native grasses. The information sheet has useful photographs and identifying features of needle grasses, and compares these features to a variety of spear grasses (Austrostipa species), wallaby grasses (Rytidosperma species) and native tussock grass (Poa labillardieri). Grasses covered include Chilean, Texas and Cane Needle Grass (all members of Nassella genus), and the closely related Espartillo (Amelichloa caudata).

Landowners learning the finer points of needle grass identification at a field day (photo by Connecting Country)

During the warmer months, needle grasses produce large amounts of unpalatable flower stalks with little leaf material, resulting in a severe reduction of stock carrying capacity. A dense infestation of needle grass can carry  up to 15,000 seeds per square metre beneath infestations. These seeds can remain viable for over ten years, and can spread via livestock, machinery and disturbance.

Another helpful information sheet, ‘What to do if you find needle grass’ details first-hand experience in how best to manage these grassy weeds and prevent further spread.

 

Clean Up Australia Day – 3 March 2019

Posted on 26 February, 2019 by Asha

Join a Clean Up Australia Day working bee this weekend.

CLICK HERE to find an event near you, or see the map below.

Clean Up Australia Day 2019 working bees in the Mount Alexander region

 

Clean up Campbells Creek

Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare are also holding a Clean Up Australia Day working bee that isn’t on the map.

Date:               Sunday 3 March 2019 from 9.00 to 11.00 am, followed by morning tea

Meet:               Winters Flat Footbridge, Johnstone Street, (Midland Highway), Castlemaine VIC

Provided:        Collection bags, rubbish skip (courtesy of the Council), tea/coffee and biscuits

Please bring:  Hats, gloves, sturdy clothing, enclosed boots/shoes, sun protection, a rake if you have one, your own water, and a friend!

 

Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity workshop

Posted on 21 February, 2019 by Tanya Loos

Connecting Country’s major monitoring project over the next two years is our Habitat Health Check (click here for more information), funded by the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust. This project aims to review our long-term monitoring programs, to shift to a monitoring model that empowers our community to conduct robust biodiversity monitoring, and, importantly, to ensure that the data we collect is being shared and used appropriately.

To meet this third goal, we will be working with Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) at Federation University Australia. CeRDI has developed many award-winning web-based spatial information and knowledge portals that provide public access to data sets that are often hidden from view. The team at CeRDI have two great resources that are relevant to us at Connecting Country and are well worth checking out.

State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams

Firstly, The State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams (SWIFFT) is a network for knowledge sharing and information exchange that supports conservation and management of threatened species, biodiversity and the natural environment across Victoria. You can explore a map displaying the range projects that are part of the network (click here), or see a list of their projects (click here). As part of Habitat Health Check we will be making sure that Connecting Country has a presence on this fantastic website.

Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity

Secondly, CeRDI has developed the Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity (VVB) tool (click here). VVB consolidates access to spatial environmental datasets and information – created and managed by government agencies, organisations, community groups and individuals – into a user friendly and interactive platform. You could use this platform to view, for example, records of mammals or birds near your property. CeRDI is one of many places for sharing and visualising nature data in Victoria – you can see a wonderful infographic on how these interact by clicking here.

Want to know more?  We’ll be running a workshop with CeRDI (Date to be confirmed) to learn about the power of the Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity tool.

More information to come soon – watch this space!

 

Climate impacts for Maldon community – presentation 28 February 2019

Posted on 20 February, 2019 by Frances

Maldon Neigbourhood Centre is holding an event to help the community understand the local impacts of a changing climate.

Understanding climate impacts in our local community
When: Thursday 28 February 2019 from 7.00 – 8.30 pm
Where: Maldon Neighbourhood Centre hall, corner Church St and Edwards St, Maldon VIC
RSVP: (03) 5475 2093 or info@maldonnc.org.au

For further information please see the event flyer below.