Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Last chance! ‘Camp Out Collage’ contributions due 18 April 2021

Posted on 14 April, 2021 by Asha

Don’t forget to visit our special web pages if you’d like to join us for this year’s virtual ‘Camp Out on the Mount 2021’! Joining in is easy and fun. To get started – click here!

We are hoping for lots of contributions so we can create a ‘Camp Out Collage’ of photos, stories, and pledges. For every contribution you make to the collage, you will be entered into a draw to win some great prizes, including nest boxes, plants, books, and more.

Prizes!

  • Nest box installed by Wildlife Nestboxes .
  • Book bundle on native plants of the Mount Alexander Region from Friends of the Box Ironbark Forests featuring Mosses, Eucalypts, Acacias, and Native Peas.
  • Local produce hamper.
  • Small selection of indigenous tubestock to plant (acacias and sheoaks).
  • Brochure bundle from Connecting Country featuring Woodland birds of Central Victoria, Indigenous plants of Castlemaine and surrounds, and Reptiles and Frogs of the Mount Alexander Region.

Entries are due by 18 April 2021.

Thanks to Theo Mellick-Cooper and Liz Martin for sending in these stunning contributions!

Camping Out photo by Theo Mellick-Cooper

Loving Leanganook photo collage by Liz Martin

 

Caring for old trees on 24 April 2021 – book now!

Posted on 8 April, 2021 by Ivan

Connecting Country is excited to announce that tickets are now available for the second event of our 2021 autumn workshop series. ‘Caring for old trees‘ will be hosted by two local leading naturalists, Jarrod Coote and Tanya Loos, who coincidentally both previously worked with Connecting Country. The event will be held in-person at the stunning Hillside Acres farm, in North Harcourt, Victoria.

This event is part of our ‘Healthy Landscapes’ project, funded through the Australian Government’s Smart Farms program.

The workshop will cover:

  • How to look after older trees in the landscape.
  • Why they are important to farming and biodiversity.
  • Methods of protection and providing succession.

We will also have the opportunity to tour of some beautiful large old trees at Hillside Acres. Old trees provide vital farm infrastructure, as well as habitat for many birds, arboreal mammals, microbats, and insects. The workshop will explore how to ensure that old trees remain part of our local landscape, and how to ensure the next generation of old trees.

The event will be on Saturday 24 April 2021 from 10 am to 12 noon in North Harcourt, VIC. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book please – click here 

Due to COVID-19 limitations, catering for this event is BYO. Please come equipped for potential weather extremes, wear sturdy shoes and bring adequate water and nourishment.

Our Healthy Landscapes project is about helping our local farmers and other landholders to manage their land sustainably for the benefit of wildlife, themselves and the broader landscape. We are also developing a Healthy Landscapes guide book, especially targeted to the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria. This event is part of a series of educational workshops for landholders on sustainable land management.

Our special presenters

Jarrod Coote

Jarrod is an environmental educator and practical ecologist. He runs Hillside Acres farm and has developed a sound knowledge of flora and fauna identification, ecology and habitat requirements. He has taught at education institutions and is a former Connecting Country employee. Jarrod has a passion for sustainable farming and land management, as well as birds and indigenous flora species.

Tanya Loos

Tanya is a superstar of many aspects of ecology and is best known for her ability to explain the intricacies and beauties of the natural world to the community. Tanya has previously worked with Connecting Country and Birdlife Australia, and is an expert in birds, mammals and community engagement. Her experience includes ecological consulting, project planning, client liaison and delivering training. She is also an author, blogger, and well-known advocate for environmental stewardship and sustainable land management.

 

Launched! Camp Out on the Mount 2021 web pages

Posted on 31 March, 2021 by Asha

It’s almost time! The virtual ‘Camp Out on the Mount’ officially kicks off this Saturday 3 April 2021, and the brand new Camp Out web pages are ready to explore right now! To have a look – click here

This year, to reduce the risk of having to cancel or reschedule, we have decided to jump the gun, get creative and plan for a virtual ‘Camp Out on the Mount’ 2021.

When: 3 – 18 April 2021
Where: 
Online at www.connectingcountry.org.au/landcare/camp-out-on-the-mount-2021/
How to join in: 
Explore the ‘Camp Out on the Mount 2021’ web pages and send in contributions to the ‘Camp Out Collage’ of photos, stories, and pledges
Questions:
Email asha@connectingcountry.org.au

Camp Out Collage

We aim to capture the ‘Camp Out on the Mount’ spirit by encouraging everyone to engage with our special ‘Camp Out 2021’ web pages, and inviting you to contribute to our ‘Camp Out Collage’.

Each page focuses on one of the elements that make the Camp Out special:

  • Camping out (of course!).
  • Caring for the land.
  • Loving Leanganook.
  • Connecting with Indigenous culture.

Join in and enter the draw

For each contribution you make to the ‘Camp Out Collage’ you will be entered into the draw to win a prize. Please note that you are only eligible to win the prizes if you live in Australia, and some of the prizes (such as the nest box and plants) will only be available for properties in the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria.

You may send in a maximum of four entries (i.e., one entry for each element). The four elements are: ‘Loving Leanganook’, ‘Connecting with Indigenous culture’, ‘Caring for the land’, and ‘Camping out’.

To learn more and to send in a contribution to the collage – click here

Send your completed form(s) to asha@connectingcountry.org.au by midnight on Sunday 18 April 2021. Your entries will be added to a collage of photos, stories, and pledges, which will be shared on our website in the coming months. You will also be automatically entered into the draw to win a prize (if you wish to opt out of the prize draw, please note this in your email).

Prizes!

  • Nest box installed by Wildlife Nestboxes.
  • Book bundle on native plants of the Mount Alexander Region from Friends of the Box Ironbark Forests featuring Mosses, Eucalypts, Acacias, and Native Peas.
  • Local produce hamper.
  • Small selection of indigenous tubestock to plant (acacias and sheoaks).
  • Brochure bundle from Connecting Country featuring ‘Woodland birds of Central Victoria’, ‘Indigenous plants of Castlemaine and surrounds’, and ‘Reptiles and Frogs of the Mount Alexander Region’.

Anyone and everyone is welcome to participate, so please share with your friends and start exploring!

This event was made possible by the Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program, funded by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning.

 

Rabbit Round-up Field Day 2021

Posted on 31 March, 2021 by Asha

Blampied–Kooroocheang/Rocky Lead Landcare Group, with support from Hepburn Shire Council and the Victorian Rabbit Action Network, invite you to a ‘Rabbit Round-up – Field Day 2021’.

A rabbit control workshop to demonstrate on-site, best practice approaches for farms, lifestyle and conservation properties.

The all-weather venue has a diverse range of rabbit issues, ideal for discussing strategy and demonstrating control techniques. Morning tea provided.

Newer and experienced land-managers welcome!

Date:  Saturday 10 April 2021
Time:  10 am – 12 noon
Location:  Camp Castle Hill, 3530 Midland Highway, Blampied VIC
Booking:  Places are limited, please register at https://www.trybooking.com/BPUQK or contact Brian Bainbridge (phone 0437 048 648 or email bbainbridge@hepburn.vic.gov.au)

To download the event flier – click here

 

Landcare Link-up – February 2021

Posted on 17 March, 2021 by Asha

Thank you to the enthusiastic cohort of Landcare and Friends group representatives from the Mount Alexander region, and other stakeholders, who braved the cold at our February 2021 Landcare Link-up.

The evening started with small, socially-distanced discussion groups where Landcarers talked about issues that are important to individual groups, our broader community, and the land we all share.

Discussion topics included:

  • Climate change impacts.
  • Biodiversity monitoring.
  • Weed and pest animal management.
  • Waterways.
  • Landcare promotion.
  • Group successes and challenges.


The second feature of the Link-up was viewing a series of nine COVID-safe video updates prepared by local groups in lieu of in-person presentations about their work. The videos are all unique and exceptional in true Landcare style, and well worth a watch.
They provide a valuable ongoing resource for all of us to keep sharing inspirational Landcare stories.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our series of blog posts presenting the videos. To visit our web page where you can view all the Landcare video updates at your leisure (and share with your friends!) – click here

 

 

Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club AGM plus excursion – 12 & 13 March 2021

Posted on 10 March, 2021 by Asha

As a monthly tradition, 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 thier March 2021 excursion. For more information visit their website – click here

Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club
2021 Annual General Meeting and Guest Speaker

Our meeting on Friday 12 March 2021, 7.30 pm will again be online using Zoom (if you wish to attend, please email Peter Turner at munrodsl@iinet.net.au).

Following our AGM, the guest speaker will be Reiner Richter, one of the most prolific contributors to citizen science databases in Australia with many specialties including dragonflies and orchids. Reiner will tell us about the recent field guide he has produced together with Ian Endersby: ‘Dragonflies and Damselflies of Victoria and Tasmania‘.  Reiner will explain what lead him to produce the book and the work required to get better photos of many of the species. He will also discuss the photo processing that was required in order to show the required detail for the publication.

Our guest speaker will follow the usual ‘observations’ session when members can share recent interesting sightings with an option to show a photo or two. If you have photos to be shown please email JPEG file(s) to Euan Moore at calamanthus5@bigpond.com by noon on the day of the meeting.

Excursion

Our February excursion to Tullaroop Reservoir had to be postponed due to the sudden COVID lockdown, so we will try again on Saturday 13 March 2021. Meet at the car park opposite the Castle Motel, Duke Street (Castlemaine VIC) at 1.30 pm sharp or at the Tullaroop Reservoir picnic ground at the dam wall at 2:00 pm.

Watch out for raptors as you drive across the Moolort Plains to the reservoir!

After gathering at the picnic ground, we will take a short drive to where we will park and then walk along the shore of the lake and in nearby bushland. Afterwards we will drive back to the picnic ground for afternoon tea. There is a toilet block at the picnic ground.

Bring binoculars, sunhat, block-out, hand sanitiser, water and snacks and wear stout walking shoes.

Please comply with current Government COVID-safe requirements.

The Field Trip will be cancelled in extreme weather conditions.

There are NO excursions on total fire ban days.

Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club

 

Camp Out on the Mount 2021 – we’re going virtual!

Posted on 10 March, 2021 by Asha

This year, to reduce the risk of having to cancel or reschedule, we have decided to jump the gun, get creative and plan for a virtual ‘Camp Out on the Mount’. No, this doesn’t mean toasting marshmallows by the light of your computer screen. We are encouraging everyone to plan their own camping trip in whatever way is possible for you, and to join in online by contributing to our ‘Camp Out Collage’ (details to come).

When: 3 – 18 April 2021
Where:
Online at www.connectingcountry.org.au/landcare/camp-out-on-the-mount-2021/
How to join in:
Sign up to our blog for updates, or check the webpage during the dates above
Questions:
email asha@connectingcountry.org.au

We hope to capture the ‘Camp Out on the Mount’ spirit by encouraging everyone to engage with our special ‘Camp Out 2021’ web pages, and inviting you to contribute to our ‘Camp Out Collage’ of photos, stories and pledges. These will focus on some of the elements that make the Camp Out special:

  • Camping out (of course!)
  • Caring for the land
  • Loving Leanganook
  • Connecting with Indigenous culture

More details about how to participate will be shared on our blog in the coming weeks. To subscribe to our weekly e-news so you don’t miss any updates – click here

Camp Out on the Mount 2019 (photo by Leonie van Eyk)

 

Healthy dams for habitat 2021 – more tickets now available

Posted on 4 March, 2021 by Ivan

Sold out in a week! We did not expect the 100 tickets for our ‘Healthy dams for habitat’ event to book out so quickly, but they did. So we have upgraded our Zoom account and now have another few hundred tickets available.

To book – click here

Healthy dams for habitat‘ is hosted by local leading naturalist and wetland expert, Damien Cook. The free online event will feature a presentation by Damien on how to create and improve dams to supply clean water and habitat for a variety of native plants and animals. The event is part of our ‘Healthy Landscapes’ project, funded through the Australian Government’s Smart Farms program.

The event will aim to help our local farmers and other landholders to manage their land sustainably for the benefit of wildlife, primary production and the broader landscape. We will also develop a Healthy Landscapes guide book, especially targeted to the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria, and deliver two further educational workshops for landholders on sustainable land management.

The online event will be held on Thursday 18 March 2021 from 7-8 pm. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book – click here 

Damien Cook

Damien has been a keen naturalist for 30 years and has developed a sound knowledge of flora and fauna identification, ecology and habitat requirements. He is a recognised expert in wetland, riparian and terrestrial ecology, particularly in the factors affecting the establishment and management of aquatic and wetland plants, and also the revegetation of terrestrial ecosystems. Damien is also Co-director of Rakali Ecological Consulting, a company based in central Victoria that specialise in ecological assessment (flora and fauna), mapping and land management planning for a variety of ecosystems, including wetland and terrestrial vegetation in south-eastern Australia. Damien’s roles include ecological consulting, project planning, client liaison and delivering training. Damien is also a shareholder in Australian Ecosystems Pty Ltd, an ecological restoration company with its own large scale indigenous plant nursery.

There are excellent examples of healthy dams in our region (photo by Bonnie Humphreys)

 

Healthy dams as habitat event on 18 March 2021 – book now!

Posted on 25 February, 2021 by Ivan

Connecting Country is excited to announce that tickets are now available for the first of our 2021 autumn workshop series. ‘Healthy dams for habitat‘ is hosted by local leading naturalist and wetland expert, Damien Cook. The free online event will feature a presentation by Damien on how to create and improve dams to supply clean water and habitat for a variety of native plants and animals. The event is part of our ‘Healthy Landscapes’ project, funded through the Australian Government’s Smart Farms program.

The event will aim to help our local farmers and other landholders to manage their land sustainably for the benefit of wildlife, primary production and the broader landscape. We will also develop a Healthy Landscapes guide book, especially targeted to the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria, and deliver two further educational workshops for landholders on sustainable land management.

The online event will be held on Thursday 18 March 2021 from 7-8 pm. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book please- click here 

Damien Cook

Damien has been a keen naturalist for 30 years and has developed a sound knowledge of flora and fauna identification, ecology and habitat requirements. He is a recognised expert in wetland, riparian and terrestrial ecology, particularly in the factors affecting the establishment and management of aquatic and wetland plants, and also the revegetation of terrestrial ecosystems. Damien is also Co-director of Rakali Ecological Consulting, a company based in central Victoria that specialise in ecological assessment (flora and fauna), mapping and land management planning for a variety of ecosystems, including wetland and terrestrial vegetation in south-eastern Australia. Damien’s roles include ecological consulting, project planning, client liaison and delivering training. Damien is also a shareholder in Australian Ecosystems Pty Ltd, an ecological restoration company with its own large scale indigenous plant nursery.

There are excellent examples of healthy dams in our region (photo: Bonnie Humphreys)

 

Clean Up Australia Day – Sunday 7 March 2021

Posted on 25 February, 2021 by Asha

Clean Up Australia is happening this Sunday 7 March 2021, including eight locations across the Mount Alexander region. Clean Up Australia inspires and empowers communities to clean up, fix up and conserve our environment. What was started 30 years ago, by an ‘average Australian bloke’ who had a simple idea to make a difference in his own backyard, has now become the nation’s largest community-based environmental event.

Local Clean Up Australia Day working bees include:

To view a map of Clean Up Australia Day working bees across the country, allowing you to search via postcodes and townships, please click here

Rubbish dumped at Muckleford Bushland Reserve (photo by Muckleford Catchment Landcare Group)

 

Healthy dams as habitat: 18 March 2021

Posted on 18 February, 2021 by Ivan

Save the date! We have booked our first event for 2021 and it is sure to be a big one, hosted by local leading naturalist and wetland expert, Damien Cook. The online event will feature a presentation by Damien on how to create and improve dams to supply clean water and habitat for a variety of native plants and animals. The event is part of our ‘Healthy Landscapes’ project, funded through the Australian Government’s Smart Farms program.

Our project is about helping our local farmers and other landholders to manage their land sustainably for the benefit of wildlife, themselves and the broader landscape. We will also develop a Healthy Landscapes guide book, especially targeted to the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria, and deliver a series of educational workshops for landholders on sustainable land management.

The online event will be held on 18 March 2021 at 7 pm, with online booking available in the coming weeks. It’s sure to be very popular.

With the good rains over summer 2020-21, our dams, waterways and wetlands are looking healthier in terms of water flow, but good management of these assets is a vital step for long-term improvements in water quality and biodiversity health.

Damien Cook

Damien has been a keen naturalist for 30 years and has developed a sound knowledge of flora and fauna identification, ecology and habitat requirements. He is a recognised expert in wetland, riparian and terrestrial ecology, particularly in the factors affecting the establishment and management of aquatic and wetland plants, and also the revegetation of terrestrial ecosystems. Damien is also Co-director of Rakali Ecological Consulting, a company based in central Victoria that specialise in ecological assessment (flora and fauna), mapping and land management planning for a variety of ecosystems, including wetland and terrestrial vegetation in south-eastern Australia. Damien’s roles include ecological consulting, project planning, client liaison and delivering training. Damien is also a shareholder in Australian Ecosystems Pty Ltd, an ecological restoration company with its own large scale indigenous plant nursery.

Stay tuned for further details in the coming weeks!

 

There are some excellent examples of healthy dams in our region (photo by Gen Kay)

 

Bird walk at Eganstown: Saturday 9 January 2021

Posted on 7 January, 2021 by Ivan

BirdLife Castlemaine’s beloved bird walks are commencing again with a leisurely stroll down through the Deep Creek Streamside Reserve, Eganstown, ten minutes drive west of Daylesford in central Victoria. It is the first walk for 2021, with 2020’s walks being interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Deep Creek Streamside Reserve has some excellent stands of mature grassy woodlands and herb-rich foothill forests, and will no doubt provide some excellent bird watching opportunities. Please see the details below, kindly provided by Birdlife Castlemaine.

Bird Walk – Saturday 9 January 2021 – Deep Creek Streamside Reserve, Eganstown

Hopefully, if the COVID-19 situation allows we will be able to have a full round of Bird Walks in 2021! Our 2021 program begins on Saturday 9 January (note – this is the second Saturday rather than the usual first Saturday of the month). We will walk along the road by Maclachlan Creek through manna gum streamside forest until we reach the reserve at the end of the road. Then along wide paths to the old spring. If there is time and the weather is good we will then walk through the bush – lovely messmate forest! Last time there blue-winged parrots were seen! Snakes are active in the area at the moment so long pants and boots a must – and bring snake kits if you have them (we will also have first aid kits with snake bite bandages).  There will be some uneven ground and walking through the forest but those feeling less up for a walk could easily walk down the road and then picnic down by the creek. Our walk leader is Tanya Loos. All welcome!

Where: Deep Creek Streamside Reserve, Eganstown VIC. Turn onto Deep Spring Road from the Midland Highway, approximately 9 km west of Daylesford and park near the Nowland Track which is about 600 m from the Highway. Coordinates: -37.350353, 144.074929

When: Meet at Deep Creek Streamside Reserve at 9:00 am. Walks last for approximately 2 hours.

Bring: Water, snacks, binoculars, sunscreen, hat, sturdy shoes. Long trousers are advised during snake season.

More info: Jane Rusden, 0448 900 896 or Judy Hopley 0425 768 559. To discover more about Deep Creek Streamside Reserve – click here

Please note that walks will be canceled if severe weather warnings are in place, persistent rain is forecast, if the temperature is forecast to be 35 degrees or above during the walk period, and/or a Total Fire Ban is declared.

Steep gorges and volcanic outcrops are on offer at Deep Spring Reserve (photo: Birdlife Castlemaine)

 

Celebrating our volunteer heroes at Connecting Country

Posted on 17 December, 2020 by Ivan

Connecting Country could not do what we do without our volunteers. Our management committee is run by volunteers, our monitoring programs rely on skilled citizen scientists, our landholders ensure landscape restoration is maintained, and others help with events, Landcare, engagement and in countless other ways. We love our volunteers and appreciate their dedication to our vision of increasing, enhancing, and restoring biodiversity across central Victoria.

This year, we were fortunate to receive a very generous donation from a local family to support our woodland bird monitoring, including providing a humble thank-you celebration for our volunteers on the evening of Monday 14 December 2020 at The Hub Plot, behind our office in Castlemaine, Victoria.

We enjoyed COVID-safe celebratory drinks and snack packs in the leafy Hub Plot garden. Our Monitoring Coordinator, Jess Lawton, provided a short summary of our monitoring achievements over the last year, followed by plenty of chatting and Connecting Country’s second annual ‘Klop’ game championship. Thank you to everyone who came and made it a wonderful evening with great company. Special thanks to Lou, Jane R, and Duncan for setting up and helping the evening run smoothly, and to Heather and Neil for the lovely venue.

These days our projects run off very tight budgets, with funding opportunities extremely few and far between. Community has always been at the core of what we do at Connecting Country. In this new phase, we’ve had to rely on our community even more.

Because we’re surrounded by an engaged and enthusiastic community, we’re still able to check in on our local biodiversity, and deliver monitoring, engagement, Landcare support and landscape restoration across our region. If it wasn’t for your hard work, we simply would not be able to continue our valuable long-term biodiversity monitoring, engage our community in caring for our local landscapes, or empower landowners to manage their land as wildlife habitat.

To everyone who has helped Connecting Country in 2020: a big thank you! We are so grateful for your support.

To find out more about volunteer opportunities at Connecting Country, please visit our website – click here

Please enjoy the following photos by Lou Citroen and Ivan Carter, capturing the beauty of our volunteer celebration on a balmy summer’s evening in Castlemaine.

 

 

 

 

 

Revegetation and monitoring for success webinar – 25 November 2020

Posted on 23 November, 2020 by Jacqui

Photo credit DELWP


Here’s an opportunity that may be of interest to our readers wanting to learn about the latest science on the benefits of revegetation and monitoring. Check out this short webinar hosted by Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) through the Arthur Rylah Institute, in collaboration with La Trobe University. The webinar will cover the latest advice for land managers and community groups on how to conduct successful revegetation and how to monitor the outcomes. 

Revegetation for Biodiversity: monitoring for success

Join us for a webinar on the benefits for biodiversity of revegetation activities.

Hear from experts at La Trobe University in collaboration with the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (DELWP) about:

  • The latest research on the value of revegetation: how it changes over time, and how it can be undertaken to have the greatest value for biodiversity.
  • A standard monitoring protocol designed for land managers and community groups to help assess revegetation outcomes across Victoria.

This webinar is for all audiences and will have a land management focus.

Date: Wednesday 25 November 2020
Time: 1.00 – 2.00 pm
Location: online

To register and for more information: click here

 

Weed management after fire webinar series starts 25 November 2020

Posted on 19 November, 2020 by Jacqui

Jump on and register for this opportunity to learn all about weed management after bushfire, delivered by the Weeds at Early Stages of Invasion (WESI) team and a wealth of expert collaborators. There are four free webinars in total, with each delivering a wealth of knowledge and useful information. It is vital to get on top of weeds after fire, as they usually are the first plants to immerge and have a blank canvas to invade and dominate in the years to come. 

Weed management after fire webinar series

After bushfire, our ecosystems are at their most vulnerable to weed invasion. Help us support indigenous flora and fauna by managing weeds in bushfire affected areas.

This webinar* series focuses on sharing practical knowledge so everyone can contribute to bushfire recovery.

Time:

Four webinars on the below dates all from 10:30 am to 12:15 pm.

Dates:

Webinar 1: Wednesday 25 November 2020 – Overview weed management after fire.

Webinar 2: Wednesday 2 December 2020 – Prioritisation of weeds after fire.

Webinar 3: Wednesday 9 December 2020 – Collaborative projects – weed management after fire.

Webinar 4: Wednesday 16 December 2020 – Weed identification and recording after fire.

For more information and to register for these free webinars: CLICK HERE

Collaborators:

  • State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams (SWIFFT)
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) including:
    • Weeds at the Early Stage of Invasion (WESI)
    • Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery (BBRR)
    • Natural Environment Program (NEP)
    • Connecting Communities Program (CCP)
    • Weeds and Pests on Public Land (WPPL)
  • Parks Victoria
  • East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA)
  • Weed Society of Victoria (WSV)
  • Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC)
  • Landcare Victoria
  • Trust for Nature
  • Regional Roads Victoria
  • Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR)
  • Australian Association of Bush Regenerators (AABR)
  • Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife (FNPW)

* These webinars are funded by the Victorian Government’s $22.5 million Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery program. For more information on the BBRR program, visit www.wildlife.vic.gov.au/home/biodiversity-bushfire-response-and-recovery

 

Greater and Squirrel Glider Symposium: 27-28 October 2020

Posted on 21 October, 2020 by Ivan

Our colleagues at Biolinks Alliance have put together a very impressive lineup for their Greater and Squirrel Glider Symposium, happening online this year. The event’s full title is’Greater and Squirrel Glider Symposium Leaping into Action: Sharing practical and scientific knowledge for Glider conservation’. This two-week online forum will focus on sharing information and improving collaborative and strategic approaches to conservation of Greater Gliders and Squirrel Gliders.

Connecting Country is a member of the Biolinks Alliance, a group that aims to build partnerships and capacity so that the significant momentum for community-driven conservation on public and private land in central Victoria is supported, coordinated and amplified.

Our very own Monitoring Coordinator, Jess Lawton will feature in the lineup of experts for the workshop titled ‘Squirrel Glider citizen science, community engagement and data quality workshop‘. Jess is fast becoming an expert in the practical application of citizen science and ecological monitoring programs.

Please read on for more information on this action-packed symposium, including booking details.

About this event

The threat of species extinction requires the sharing and application of the best knowledge and conservation strategy. Flagship species like the Greater Glider and Squirrel Glider are already fomenting collaboration and increased action. The recent fires raised the urgency of the challenge as well as many questions on what the best course of action is in a rapidly changing climate and more frequent catastrophic events.

Biolinks Alliance, with Wombat Forestcare, Strathbogie Ranges CMN and the Great Eastern Ranges, is holding an online digital symposium that will bring together researchers and conservation practitioners working in Victoria and New South Wales. This two-week online forum will focus on sharing information and improving collaborative and strategic approaches to conservation of Greater Gliders and Squirrel Gliders.

A series of digital video assets will be available at the commencement of the symposium, followed by several days of live panel discussions, keynotes, Q&A’s and workshops. The program will cover:

  • State of play – impact of drought and recent fires
  • New research – approaches and findings
  • Lessons from the ground – survey, monitoring, habitat protection, restoration and enhancement; community action
  • Planning for collaboration and increased strategic action

Symposium location: online via the Zoom platform – click here to book

Keynote presentations by leading research scientists:

  • Predicting habitat suitability for greater glider (Petauroides volans) using remote sensing: implications for conservation planning‘ keynote presented by PhD. candidate Benjamin Wagner
  • Conservation Planning in Dynamic Environments‘ keynote presented by Associate Professor Craig Nitschke
  • Examining changes in Greater Gliders population from several large-scale, long-term studies includes empirical analyses that quantify the impacts of various drivers of change‘ keynote presented by Professor David Lindenmayer
  • Temporal changes in populations of arboreal marsupials, including gliders in the Grassy Box-gum woodlands of southern Australia over the past 22+ years based on a series of long-term observational studies and experiments‘ keynote presented by Professor David Lindenmayer
  • Overlooked driver of decline–the influence of temperature on food intake in arboreal folivores‘ keynote presented by Dr Kara Youngentob
  • Maximising learning opportunities while replacing tree hollows for wildlife‘ keynote originally presented by Dr Rodney Van Der Ree as part of the 2019 TreeNet conference
  • Connecting habitat across roads‘ keynote originally presented by Dr Rodney Van Der Ree as part of the 2019 TreeNet conference
  • Squirrel Gliders: Nest box use and population monitoring‘ keynote presented by Associate Professor Ross Goldingay

Greater Glider ‘State of Play’ live panel discussion – Tuesday 27 October 2020

  • Gregg Borschmann (Facilitator)
  • Professor David Lindenmayer Australian National University
  • Ed Hill GECO
  • Dr Teresa Eyre Queensland Herbarium
  • Dr Jenny Nelson Arthur Rylah Institute

Squirrel Glider ‘State of Play’ live panel discussion -Wednesday 28 October 2020

  • Gregg Borschmann (Facilitator)
  • Dr Mason Crane NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust
  • Dr Rodney van Der Ree University of Melbourne & WSP Australia
  • Associate Professor Ross Goldingay Southern Cross University
  • Jerry Alexander DELWP

Bookings: online via the Zoom platform – click here to book

 

 

What I learned with beginner birdwatchers

Posted on 21 October, 2020 by Jess

We received this lovely report from Lou Citroen, one of our eleven experienced volunteer bird watchers who led a small group walk at one of Connecting Country’s group bird survey sites for our ‘Birdwatching for Beginners’ event on 17 October 2020. The 46 available spots for this field session booked out incredibly fast – a reflection of the strong level of interest in local birds within our community. To view the theory session from this event, presented online by Damian Kelly – click here

Dear Jess,

I wanted to thank you and Frances for all the work you have put into what turned out to be a resoundingly successful Birdwatching for Beginners day!  You must also have contacts in High places as the weather turned out to be just perfect after a rainy start of the day!!

I thoroughly enjoyed the webinar.  The Webinar is such boon and useful communication tool especially in these COVID times!

I found Damian’s presentation really informative, and useful.  It reinforces for me that it doesn’t matter how many years you do birdwatching, there is always something to learn from others; a lifelong learning process that is so enjoyable.  I loved Damian’s relaxed and chatty style.  The participants in my group also enjoyed it greatly. As concerns my particular group, we had a really fun and leisurely hour and a half on site with Carmen, Kate and Julia.

They were a lovely chatty group! Thankfully they all found the directions to the spot helpful (phew).  It was fabulous to have Frances there, not just as first aider, but as great company and to help fill in some of the details about this site.

After introductions and the short safety talk, the group were delighted with the bird identification brochures Frances handed out.  The brochures were indeed helpful in identifying a few of the birds we saw … or were looking for!

Group members learned an important bird watching skill: how to use binoculars (photo by Frances Howe)

 

With her keen eye, Carmen spotted a Galah nesting hollow (and another disused one), Julia eventually spotted one (of three!) Olive-backed Oriole, I showed them the White-winged Chough nest that Liz and I had spotted on the ‘reconnaissance mission’ … plus a few Choughs.  A loud Rufous Whistler remained elusive.  A beautiful raptor flew overhead but sadly remained unidentified (I still have trouble with identification of a number of raptors).  There were quite a few Crimson Rosellas and Red Wattlebirds about and we heard one or two Yellow Thornbills, but spotting a male and female Superb Fairy-wren at close range was a treat for all.

Here are some of the bird species Lou’s group detected on their walk (photos by Geoff Park):

As my hearing is still pretty good, I explained to the group that, a little differently from Damian’s approach, in addition to visual cues I place a fair amount of importance on learning to recognise bird calls.  I was able to show them that, while calls are unique to each bird (apart from the mimics that Damian pointed out) many have a little repertoire of calls to be aware of.  The Crimson Rosella showed off with three.

At the end of the walk, all three were thrilled when Frances gave them all a copy of Damian’s book (click here).  It was clearly a lovely surprise for them and a nice way to end our little excursion.

As I said to Frances afterwards, I think this was great success; an eye-opener (no pun intended) that there is such an interest in birds in our community. The three in our group were great to meet and clearly enjoyed the time.  I had a ball!  By about 3 pm we were all done and on our way home.

Thank you for the mountain of planning and coordinating behind the scenes to make it such a success!

Warmest wishes,

Lou

It was our pleasure Lou! We’re so glad your group had such a wonderful time. Receiving messages like this really warms our hearts and makes all that behind-the-scenes admin work worthwhile. We hope this is the beginning of an exciting bird watching journey for Carman, Kate and Julia, and all our participants.

This event was supported by the Australian Government’s Communities for the Environment Program. 

 

‘Birdwatching for beginners’ engages the next generation of birders

Posted on 21 October, 2020 by Ivan

Our popular ‘Birdwatching for beginners’ event last weekend (Saturday 17 October 2020) had 282 people register for the theory session in the morning and we quickly ‘sold out’ of free tickets for the practical afternoon session. The event proved once again that community interest in birds and bird watching is gathering momentum, creating a new generation of bird watchers. The event aimed to attract new bird watchers and bird survey volunteers, and get people out enjoying and exploring the natural assets we are blessed with in Central Victoria. We’re thrilled to have such a positive response and see the enthusiasm of the participants, who were mostly from the Mount Alexander region and surrounding areas.

Local author and bird enthusiast Damian Kelly presented an overview and introduction to bird watching in the morning session, covering a range of topics and tips to get people skilled-up for bird watching. Damian is the author of the terrific ‘Castlemaine Bird Walks’ book. Damian wooed the audience with some outstanding bird photos, mostly from his own garden in central Castlemaine. He provided practical suggestions on how to get to know birds and where to start looking for birds in our region. He also responded to participants’ questions, answering important questions about binoculars, birding groups and bird calls, before heading off to mentor a practical session near Castlemaine. It was a busy day for our community birding champion!

The afternoon practical session involved a team of 4-5 beginners teaming up with an experienced local birdwatcher to go bird watching at some of Connecting Country’s bird survey sites on public land across our region. We ‘sold’ all 45 allocated tickets for this event with a long waiting list. People were keen to take this excellent opportunity to visit some great bird watching sites, with an experienced mentor to guide attendees through the afternoon. Small groups meant participants had plenty of opportunities to ask questions and learn directly from mentors, while minimising COVID-19 risks.

Feedback from both the morning and afternoon sessions was positive and appreciative, with many participants emailing directly after the event with thanks and requesting recordings of the event. The afternoon practical session was invaluable for the lucky attendees, who got to experience mentoring and an expert guide to the local birds of our survey sites on public land. There were many highlights from the afternoon, including seeing Dusky Woodswallows, Brown Falcons, Olive-backed Orioles, Superb Fairy-wrens, White-plumed Honeyeaters and Welcome Swallows. Several nests were spotted, including the amazing clay nests of the White-winged Chough.

Please enjoy the following photos captured by Ivan Carter, Frances Howe and Asha Bannon during the practical sessions, with birds and new birders sharing together.

This event is part of our ‘Community for bush birds’ project supported by the Australian Government under the Communities Environment Program.

A recorded copy of Damian’s presentation is available for download – click here

If you would like to learn more about birds, or have an interest in raptors and/or thornbills, you might like to download the presentations below, from our ‘Tricky Birds of Central Victoria’ event. They are an excellent resource for a little more detail on these bird groups.

  • Geoff Park raptor presentation – click here
  • Chris Tzaros thornbill presentation – click here

If you enjoyed this event, please consider contributing to Connecting Country’s work. We run entirely from grants and donations, with all donations over $2 being tax deductible.

 

 

 

Celebrate National Bird Week with Aussie Backyard Bird Count – 19-25 October 2020

Posted on 15 October, 2020 by Ivan

 

Bird watching is an easily accessible activity that connects us to nature (photo: Geoff Park)

Celebrate National Bird Week with Connecting Country by joining thousands across the country participating in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count. The bird count has been increasingly popular over the past few years, with the past 12 months seeing a surge in bird watching  across the country.The next Aussie Backyard Bird Count is on 19-25 October 2020. The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is an activity for all-ages that involves observing and counting the birds that live near you – whether that’s in your garden, the local park, a beach or even your town centre. By recording the birds you’ve seen within a 20 minute period, you will help BirdLife Australia develop an understanding of local birds, while getting to know the wildlife on your doorstep!

Please read on for details from Birdlife Australia about the importance of this annual survey and how to participate.

How do I take part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count? 

To complete the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, spend 20 minutes standing or sitting in one spot and noting down the birds that you see. You will need to count the number of each species you spot within the 20 minute period. For example, you might see 4 Australian Magpies, 2 Rainbow Lorikeets and a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. If you can identify birds by their calls, please include these in your count, but if you aren’t sure of a bird without seeing it, please exclude it rather than making a guess. The Aussie Bird Count app has a handy field-guide to help you identify birds. Once you have completed your count, you can submit it in two different ways:

  1. You can submit your bird count through the online web form (this form won’t be made live until the 14 October)

OR

  1. You can submit your counts through the free Aussie Bird Count app. The app is available for iPhones and Android smartphones, go to the Google Play or iTunes to download the app for free. If you have the Aussie Bird Count app from previous years don’t delete it, it should update automatically with the newest version. In between event dates, the app operates as a field-guide/bird finder.

Why should I do the backyard bird count? 

By participating in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, you will be helping BirdLife Australia find out about the common species that live where people live. Providing us with a snapshot of Australian birds at the same time each year allows us to look at the trends in our bird communities from year to year. This is important because it’s these more common species that give us the best indication of the health of the environment – think of birds as a barometer for nature!

Why is the bird count in October? 

Spring is the season when birds are more lively and visible. They begin nesting, breeding and flocking and generally appear more playful. Thousands of migrant birds return to our shores in spring as well. For these reasons it is also National Bird Week, a tradition that started back in the early 1900s when 28 October was first designated by our predecessor, the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, as the first ‘Bird Day’.

What other surveys can I get involved with? 

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count only takes place once a year, however BirdLife Australia run other surveys throughout the year that you can take part in. Birds In Backyards runs seasonal surveys that you can join in with, even if you’re not an expert bird-watcher, and there’s lots of info on how to attract more birds to your backyard! Check it out here. You can also register with our Birdata app if you want to take part in more regular bird surveys.

 

 

A self-guided bird-watching walk with North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare

Posted on 15 October, 2020 by Asha

Take yourself on a self-guided bird-watching walk, organised by North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare with support from Connecting Country.

North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare have created this walk as the perfect excuse (if you need one) to go out and learn about what birds live where and why. This event is a self-guided tour in the North Harcourt Sedgwick area of Central Victoria. Just look for the posters and follow along!

The posters will have information about the habitat at different points along the walk and which birds you might see there. It is designed for everyone, from kids to avid bird-watchers. Any time is a good time for bird-watching, but the best times are early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

The walk begins at the intersection of Mandurang S Road, Springs Road, and Bryden Road in Sedgwick and follows the Coliban channel (see map on the right for details). You will need to bring some binoculars, and a device with a bird ID app is a massive advantage. Don’t forget good walking shoes, first aid kit, and some water and snacks. Allow around 20 minutes at each one of the four stations. The entire walk is around 3 km return (allow around 2 hours). The trail has some steep sections so please go at a safe pace. Please stay on the track at all times and, with the weather warming up, be aware of snakes.

When: This event will run from 19 October to approximately 8 November 2020.

To download the poster: click here

For more information about the walk please email NHSELandcare@gmail.com

For more information about North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare: click here