Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Victorian Landcare Awards: Extension for nominations

Posted on 9 July, 2019 by Ivan

The closing date for entries to the 2019 Victorian Landcare Awards has been extended until Thursday 11 July 2019 at 11:59pm.

More information: on criteria and how to nominate for the 2019 Victorian Landcare Awards go to www.landcareaustralia.org.au/landcareawards2019

The 2019 Victorian Landcare Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of the individuals, groups, networks and organisations who make significant contributions to protect, conserve and restore Victoria’s environment.

There are nine National Landcare Award categories and six Victorian (only) Award categories, see below:

National Landcare Award categories:  

  • Landcare Farming Award
  • Innovation in Agriculture Land Management Award
  • Individual Landcarer Award
  • Partnerships for Landcare Award
  • Coastcare Award
  • Junior Landcare Team Award
  • Young Landcare Leadership Award
  • Indigenous Land Management Award
  • Landcare Community Group Award

All Victorian winners of the National Landcare Awards categories will proceed as finalists (representing Victoria) at the 2020 National Landcare Awards.

Victorian Landcare Award categories:

  • Joan Kirner Landcare Award
  • Landcare Network Award
  • Dr Sidney Plowman Travel & Study Award
  • Heather Mitchell Memorial Fellowship
  • Urban Landcare Award
  • Environmental Volunteer Award

Nominations are encouraged from groups, networks and individuals involved in protecting and enhancing their local environment and improving agricultural productivity. They include:

  • Sustainable farmers & professional farming systems groups
  • Indigenous Landcare groups & individuals
  • Urban Landcare groups including ‘Friends of’ groups
  • Landcare groups
  • Coastcare groups
  • Individuals
  • Environmental volunteer groups
  • Junior Landcare groups (including day care centres, primary and secondary schools, youth groups)
  • Youth groups including Scouts & Girls Guides
  • Young Landcare leaders
  • Natural resource management agencies
  • Local government
  • Research agencies
  • Agricultural co-operatives, industry associations, suppliers or individual primary producers.

Landcare members assessing a Needle-Grass infestation with John Walter. Photo: Connecting Country archive

 

Wetland Plant Identification Course

Posted on 9 July, 2019 by Ivan

For anyone interested in wetland plant identification and ecology, below is a great opportunity to register for a 3-day course held by Rakali Consulting in northern Victoria. 

Observe the changing seasons and water depths of the stunning Reedy Lagoon, near Cohuna in Victoria over a 6 month period.   Each of the 3 days will focus on a different wetland habitat (wetting and drying) and associated plant community.

Dates
The course runs over 3 separate days:
31 October 2019, 9.00am – 4.30pm
5 December 2019, 9.00am – 4.30pm
19 March 2020, 9.00am – 4.30pm

Presenters
Damien Cook is one of Victoria’s leading wetland experts and SERA Restoration Excellence Award winner November 2016. Damien provides wetland expertise in the form of plant surveys, wetland condition assessments and wetland management planning for state government agencies across Victoria. Damien has been instrumental in planning and delivering some of the largest and most complex ecological restoration projects to date in Australia.

Elaine Bayes has been working as an environmental researcher, scientist and educator since 1994.

Course structure
Each day includes a field trip using the coloured field guide to identify wetland plants and class time for presentations, discussion and practice using floral keys.

Lunch, morning and afternoon tea provided.

Cost
$800 plus GST ($880)
$600 Student/Landcare plus GST ($660) (places strictly limited)

Course Location
Treetops, Spencer’s Bridge Road (off Cohuna-Koondrook Rd), Cohuna, Victoria.
Field work will be conducted at Reedy Lagoon or a nearby wetland and timed to follow environmental water delivery to ensure wetland plants are at their peak.

Bookings and further information
Book quickly as there are only 25 places available.
To register and pay click here.
For alternative payment methods, or for any more information on course content or other training needs, contact Elaine Bayes elaine@rakali.com.au.

 

Remix: Connecting Country’s short film just got shorter

Posted on 3 July, 2019 by Ivan

Connecting Country has been fortunate to receive a shorter remaster of the wonderful five minute ‘Safeguarding Woodland Birds‘ film made by Remember the Wild. This is one of ten films forming the Community Conservationists series made by the talented Remember the Wild team, and funded by the Wettenhall Environment Trust.

The second version of this film is under 60 seconds, making it perfect for promotion on the Connecting Country website and social media channels. The film is well worth watching, especially if you are new to Connecting Country and wondering what we are all about. Its focus is our work on woodland birds, but could easily have been on many aspects of our work, like our amazing nestbox program for brush-tailed phascogale and sugar gliders.

We are delighted to be a part of this series, and feel we’re in very good company with our fellow Community Conservationists.

To see our longer film and the other Community Conservationists: click here

Below is the brand new 60 second video for your enjoyment, what do you think?

 

 

Bird walk at Tipperary Springs, Daylesford – Saturday 6 July 2019

Posted on 3 July, 2019 by Ivan

Here are details from BirdLife Castlemaine about their special bird walk this weekend at Tipperary Springs, Daylesford VIC

Join us at Tipperary Springs, Daylesford for a winter bird walk, led by Daylesford local, Tanya Loos. The walk will go for about three hours. Please be aware there are narrow paths along the creek with some hilly/rocky sections. We will also celebrate our one year birthday! Bring a thermos and snacks to share. Beginners very welcome.

Location and directions: Meet at Tipperary Springs in Daylesford VIC (follow Tipperary Springs Road). Follow this link for a map: click here

Time: Meet at Tipperary Springs at 9:00 am, or to carpool from Castlemaine meet at 8:30 am outside Castlemaine Community House (former Continuing Ed building), 30 Templeton St, Castlemaine VIC.

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 BirdLife Castlemaine’s walk program, you can email them at castlemaine@birdlife.org.au, or call Judy Hopley (0425 768 559) or Asha Bannon (0418 428 721).

Diamond Firetail (photo by Bridget Farmer)

 

FrogID App’s first year: what the data tells us

Posted on 2 July, 2019 by Ivan

Have you tried the FrogID app? FrogID is Australia’s first national citizen science frog identification initiative – a project led by the Australian Museum in partnership with Australia’s leading natural history museums and IBM. You can use the App to create a profile, record frog calls and match your calls to the frog calls on the app, then upload your records to the Australian Museum frog experts for species verification.

The findings from the first 12 months of the FrogID App are in!

In just one year, FrogID has generated the equivalent of 13% of all frog records collected in Australia over the last 240 years. The submitted recordings have resulted in over 66,000 validated calls and detected 175 of Australia’s 240 known native frogs.

The data has provided information about:

  • Impacts of climate change and pollution on Australia’s frogs including the first evidence of the decline in Sydney of the Australian Green Tree Frog.
  • Spread of the invasive Cane Toad.
  • Breeding populations of 28 globally threatened and 13 nationally threatened frog species.

 

Location of all frog records for the first year of FrogID in Australia

 

‘Due to FrogID and the thousands of people recording the calls of frogs across Sydney, we have enough data for the first compelling evidence of the disappearance of the Green Tree Frog from most of Sydney,’ Dr Jodi Rowley (Australian Museum Curator of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Biology) said.

Evidence of the decline of the iconic Australian Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea) in Sydney is integral to conservation efforts.  They can now provide up to date information to land managers to better understand where they are located, and ensure the habitat that supports them is protected.

Another surprising result from the first year of the project has been the number of records of native frog species detected calling from well outside their known range, including the Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog (Litoria fallax) found up to 400 km from the known edge of the native range near the NSW -Victoria border. (To learn more about hitchhiking frogs – click here.)

This is all thanks to the efforts of the amazing citizen scientists driving this data collection. Check out the top frogger, Matt from the Northern Territory, featured recently in the media – click here.

To download the FrogID App – click here.

Happy frogging!

Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea) (photo by Nick Langley)

 

A creepy bride

Posted on 2 July, 2019 by Jacqui

It has a pretty name, and a pretty flower—after all, it was introduced into this country as a garden plant. Now it’s one of the worst invasive weeds in the country, a menace to the environment and agriculture. You guessed it: it’s Bridal Creeper.

Harmless looking plant, which can be a suffocating nuisance: dig it up! And make sure you get it all… (photo by John Ellis)

This invasive climbing herb with a very extensive tuberous root system can cause huge problems as it climbs on and chokes understorey species: it’s capable of completely blanketing out all other plants.

And it’s starting to emerge in the bush now.  If you come across a small isolated plant the best method of removal is to dig it up – though you have to make sure you dig deep enough to get all the tubers: if you don’t, the plant is tenacious at coming back.  Hang the offending weed in another bush or branch so that the tuber dries out and so that other people walking in the area know that it is an unwanted plant. They might be encouraged to use the same method of removal if they come across one.

We owe a thanks to all those generous people who have been digging this pest plant up over the years through our local bushland (especially Kalimna). What would the bush look like if it had been allowed to run rampant?

For more information on this Bridal Creeper and its control check this Weed Management Control Guide

And if you want to see what Bridal Creeper can do when it gets out of control, grit your teeth and have a look here.

Visit the Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests website – click here

For more weed information and resources see Connecting Country’s Weeds page – click here

 

Restoring woodland bird habitat in central Victoria – project update

Posted on 27 June, 2019 by Jacqui

 

In recent years, Connecting Country’s landscape restoration projects have focused on protecting and enhancing habitat for woodland birds. As many of you know, habitat loss is the single greatest threat to woodland birds, and is exacerbated by other threats including invasive pest plants and animals, and climate change.

That’s where Remnant Rescue: restoring woodland bird habitat in central Victoria comes in. As the title suggests, the project aims to restore habitat for woodland birds across the Mount Alexander region on public and private land. We are working with volunteer landholders across the region to support restoration of priority habitat on their properties.

The main focus of this three-year project is weed and rabbit control to promote natural regeneration of native species. Connecting Country has met with selected landholders to assess their properties and develop management actions tailored to their needs. Now, with our project partners Dja Dja Wurrung, we’re preparing for weed and rabbit control, fencing to exclude stock from priority habitat and strategic revegetation of key missing understorey plants. Plants have arrived at our depot in the last couple of weeks ready for planting.

Tree Violet (Melicytus dentatus), a hardy species that provides dense cover for small woodland birds (photo by Jacqui Slingo)

The project will cover more than 60 hectares of private land with complementary works across 40 hectares of public land managed by Parks Victoria.

Connecting Country is proud to oversee the project in collaboration with our project partners: local landholders, Dja Dja Wurrung, Trust for Nature, Parks Victoria, and the Victorian government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

This project has been funded by the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity Response Planning program and is helping to ensure that Victoria’s natural environment is healthy, valued and actively cared for.

 

From left to right: Hopbush (Dodonea viscosa), Hedge Wattle (Acacia paradoxa) and Spreading Wattle (Acacia genistifolia), just a few of the locally indigenous species arriving at our depot this week (photo by Jacqui Slingo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wetland Plant Identification Course 2019

Posted on 26 June, 2019 by Frances

Local ecologists Damien Cook and Elaine Bayes are once again running their well-respected Wetland Plant Identification Course for anyone interested in wetland ecology.

Registrations are now open for the Wetland Plant Identification Course 2019 commencing on 31 October 2019.

To find out more about the course see the poster below or click here

To register: click here

 

 

 

2019 Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Grants: update

Posted on 24 June, 2019 by Ivan

The closing date for the 2019 Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Grants has been extended for one week until Friday 28 June 2019 at 3.00 pm.

To applyclick here

Victorian schools, kindergartens, childcare centres, Scouts, Girl Guides and youth groups that are interested in working on a Junior Landcare biodiversity project in 2019-2020 can apply for the 2019 Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Grants.

The Victorian Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP), in partnership with Landcare Australia, is giving school and youth groups the opportunity to apply for a grant of up to $5,000 through the 2019 Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Grants. These grants offer funding for projects that seek to involve and educate young Victorians in valuing and actively caring for our natural environment. The Victorian Government is providing funding up to $410,000 for these grants in 2019.

Who can apply: schools, kindergartens, childcare centres, Scouts, Girl Guides and youth groups.

Grant funding: up to $5,000 is available for projects. The grants are for either direct action (i.e., projects with an on-ground component) or in direct action (i.e., projects with an environmental education component), or a mixture of both.

Type of projects supported by this program:

  • On-ground projects that restore, protect, enhance, or develop habitat for native flora and fauna, and/or address threats to biodiversity, e.g., weed invasion, habitat loss etc.
  • Projects that increase opportunities for children to connect with their natural environment, e.g., a school excursion to Healesville Sanctuary.
  • Projects that educate and raise awareness, among young people, of the benefits and importance of biodiversity and a healthy environment, and/or how they can contribute to environmental improvement.

Grant guidelines: click here

Nature play at Kalimna Park (photo by Connecting Country)

 

Need help to control Wheel Cactus?

Posted on 24 June, 2019 by Asha

Great message from our local Cactus Warriors:

Are you new to the Maldon area? Have you escaped the stressful city lifestyle and bought yourself a piece of paradise? Welcome, you’ve made the best decision! But have you now discovered there’s a few weeds to deal with?

If you have some Wheel Cactus plants, then the Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (TCCG) can help you to deal with these invasive weeds. If there’s just a few young plants then it’s much easier to destroy these while they’re small. But no matter how small or large your Wheel Cactus infestation, please don’t hesitate to contact the TCCG for help and advice.

You can contact us via our website at www.cactuswarriors.org where you’ll also find some interesting case studies about new community members who’ve bought properties with Wheel Cactus infestations and been very successful in eliminating the weed.

Thanks to ongoing support from the Mount Alexander Shire Council, our group is very well equipped with digging tools and injection kits that can borrowed free of charge. We also hold regular Community Field Days where we demonstrate the best techniques to use.

Our next Community Field Day is on Sunday 30 June 2019, and will be in Watersons Road, Maldon VIC. The route will be well signposted from Bridgewater Rd. The morning’s activities begin at 10:30 am and always end with a delicious BBQ lunch and friendly chat. These events are family friendly, but children must be accompanied by a parent at all times. If you have any queries please contact us via email at info@cactuswarriors.org

Wheel Cactus plants on a property near Maldon (photo provided by TCCG).

 

Special General Meeting and Acacia workshop – Saturday 24 August 2019

Posted on 24 June, 2019 by Frances

Connecting Country is holding a Special General Meeting and Acacia workshop at 2.00 pm on Saturday 24 August 2019 at Campbells Creek Community Centre.

Come along for brief meeting formalities and then learn all about identifying our amazing local Acacias with special guest and local legend, Ian Higgins!

To see our official notice to members about the meeting – click here

For more information on the interactive Acacia workshop, please see our flyer below. To download a copy of the flyer – click here

We encourage our members to attend, but all are welcome. To RSVP please visit TryBooking click here

 

Listening to Nature: a sonic landscape

Posted on 20 June, 2019 by Ivan

Hot off the press! The first video featuring nocturnal bird calls from the Mount Alexander region using song meter audio recorders.

During 2018, a group of volunteers conducted a project to monitor nocturnal birds in the Mt Alexander region, Central Victoria, using Song Meter recorders. This was a ‘Communities Listening for Nature’ project run by Victoria National Parks Association (VNPA) in partnership with Museums Victoria and assistance from Connecting Country.

The Communities Listening to Nature project uses automated sound recorders to monitor birds in their natural environments. The recorder recorded bird calls at many sites over long time periods. Partnering with local groups, the VNPA have been installing recorders at several locations, including Mount Worth State Park and surrounding district, Bunyip State Park, Mount Alexander region and the Wombat State Forest.

Each location has its own study design, which has been developed with input from local groups and land managers, and scientists from Museums Victoria. The recorded bird calls will help them learn more about Victoria’s birds. The recordings are also added to the public library of Victorian bird sounds managed by Museums Victoria and available to everyone from their online collections. Communities Listening for Nature is being carried out in partnership with Museums Victoria and with generous support from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.

For more information on the Listening to Nature project, please click here.

The video was produced by RMIT University student Charlie, who worked as an intern with Sera Blair at VNPA for a few weeks. One of his projects was to prepare a video based on the Listening for Nature Song Meter recordings. They selected segments from recordings from a local Sandon property and Charlie then blended these together to make a night-time story.

Thanks to local legend Jennifer Rolland for annotation and habitat images, and to Andrew Haysom for Eastern Yellow Robin and Superb Fairy-wren images.

The project uses spectrograms. Spectrograms are a visual representation of an audio signal, with the pitch or frequency displayed vertically, and the time horizontally. High frequencies (like those made by bats) are near the top of the image, while lower frequencies are near the bottom of the image.

 

Connecting with videos

Posted on 19 June, 2019 by Ivan

Did you know Connecting Country has a video channel on the Vimeo website platform?

We have 11 videos in total, with nearly 2,000 views. The most popular video is ‘Make a Rabbit Bait Station’, which has over 1,000 views and has proved very popular with its interesting mix of science, arts and comedy. Give it a go!

Connecting Country is keen to do some new videos in the coming years, which we will post on our website and Vimeo. Possible topics include monitoring birds, re-vegetation success stories and project outcomes. Do you have any video topics you would like Connecting Country to consider over the next few years?

Please enjoy this video on Vimeo, covering a range of topics from Connecting Country’s first eight years: click here

The Connecting Country Vimeo collection (photo by Connecting Country)

 

Invasive plant information

Posted on 19 June, 2019 by Ivan

Did you know Connecting Country has a useful website that contains detailed information about the most common invasive plants in the Mount Alexander region?

Invasive plants, pest plants, or weeds, have attributes that enable them to out-complete other species. They are plants that are not valued where they are growing and usually grow vigorously. They may produce prolific amounts of seed, spread vegetatively and grow rapidly, and are often unpalatable to livestock or wildlife. These characteristics often allow them to dominate and displace indigenous and crop plants, contributing to a decline in biodiversity and loss of agricultural productivity.

Under the Victorian Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (CaLP Act) certain invasive plants are classified as noxious weeds. Land owners and managers have responsibilities to control these weeds. Failure to do so could result in prosecution and severe fines.

Image result for gorse agvic

Gorse is common throughout the goldfields region (photo by Agriculture Victoria)

Environmental weeds are plant species that are particularly invasive in natural bushland, completing with or choking out native plants. Not all environmental weeds are listed as noxious weeds on the CaLP Act.

The Connecting Country website lists over 60 invasive plants from A to Z, and includes information about their distribution, likely habitat, how to identify them and control methods. Most of the invasive plants listed have brochures available for download or links to further information. Over the past decade, Connecting Country’s projects have controlled invasive plants across 6,183 hectares of land, resulting in better habitat and allowing desirable native species to reestablish these areas.

Click here to visit our invasive plant resources and let us know what you think!

Specific weed information

 

Local deer sightings on the hop

Posted on 13 June, 2019 by Ivan

Local residents have reported a recent increase in sightings of feral deer in the forested regions around Muckleford, Campbells Creek, Sandon and Maldon. This coincides with a Victorian state government report concluding there are as many as a million feral deer in Victoria, with some species increasingly found in urban areas.

Andrew Cox of the Invasive Species Council (ISC) said ‘The deer invasion is coming’ and feral deer are ‘one of the country’s worst emerging vertebrate pest problem in Australia’. ‘Modelling shows that deer could easily spread across the entire mainland,’ said Mr Cox.

One of the biggest problems with feral deer is the erosion they cause along waterways and damage they cause to native vegetation. ‘It is estimated that deer numbers increased by 60 per cent between 2009 and 2016’, stated the ISC. Drier conditions have resulted in deer feeding on urban vegetation, and the state government estimated more than than 1,000 plant and animal species had been impacted by deer.

In its submission to a federal government senate inquiry, the CSIRO warned deer were now in a high growth stage, when invading populations cause irrevocable damage. Most of Australia’s now-extinct mammal fauna disappeared when rabbit and fox numbers went through a similar boom in growth. Without management action, the existing six wild deer species in eastern Australia will progressively colonise nearly the entire eastern seaboard, Great Diving Range and western slopes.

Landcare Victoria Inc is supporting an open letter to three Victorian government ministers, all with primary responsibility for drafting and/or implementation Victoria’s Deer Management Strategy.

The aim is for organisations, academic bodies and notable individuals to sign the attached open letter, asking for effective action on feral deer in Victoria. If you would like to sign the letter please contact Landcare Victoria Inc for a copy. For any queries please contact Phil on 0427 705 133 or by email at philipi@vnpa.org.au

For more information on the potential distributions of the six feral deer species, please click here

Feral deer in the dry woodlands of Victoria (photo by ABC Victoria)

 

Victorian Landcare Awards 2019 – nominations now open

Posted on 13 June, 2019 by Asha

Nominations are now open for the 2019 Victorian Landcare Awards. These awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of the countless individuals, groups, networks and organisations who make significant contributions to protect, conserve and restore Victoria’s environment.

There are nine National Landcare Award categories and six Victorian Award categories.

National Landcare Award categories:  

  • Landcare Farming Award
  • Innovation in Agriculture Land Management Award
  • Individual Landcarer Award
  • Partnerships for Landcare Award
  • Coastcare Award
  • Junior Landcare Team Award
  • Young Landcare Leadership Award
  • Indigenous Land Management Award
  • Landcare Community Group Award

All Victorian winners of the National Landcare Awards categories will proceed as finalists (representing Victoria) at the 2020 National Landcare Awards.

Victorian Landcare Award categories:

  • Joan Kirner Landcare Award
  • Landcare Network Award
  • Dr Sidney Plowman Travel & Study Award
  • Heather Mitchell Memorial Fellowship
  • Urban Landcare Award
  • Environmental Volunteer Award

Nominations are encouraged from groups, networks and individuals involved in protecting and enhancing their local environment and improving agricultural productivity. They include:

  • Sustainable farmers & professional farming systems groups
  • Indigenous Landcare groups & individuals
  • Urban Landcare groups including ‘Friends of’ groups
  • Landcare groups
  • Coastcare groups
  • Individuals
  • Environmental volunteer groups
  • Junior Landcare groups (including day care centres, primary and secondary schools, youth groups)
  • Youth groups including Scouts & Girls Guides
  • Young Landcare leaders
  • Natural resource management agencies
  • Local government
  • Research agencies
  • Agricultural co-operatives, industry associations, suppliers or individual primary producers.

Entries close: Sunday 7 July 2019

More information:
on criteria and how to nominate for the 2019 Victorian Landcare Awards go to www.landcareaustralia.org.au/landcareawards2019

 

A foray in fungal realms with Alison Pouliot – Friday 14 June 2019

Posted on 13 June, 2019 by Asha

The Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club have once again engaged a great guest speaker for their monthly general meeting.

From the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club blog:

Hygrocybe sp. HYG8103 © Alison Pouliot

Alison has worked as a scientific photographer and ecologist for almost three decades. She has presented over 350 workshops and seminars on environmental and conservation themes in Australia and internationally – more details at alisonpouliot.com    

Throughout history, fungi have confounded humans with their strange appearances, peculiar habitats and dubious connotations. Yet without fungi, life as we know it would be radically different. Fungi regulate the biosphere and support the earth’s ecological functioning. They provide us with food, wine and medicine.

Alison will take us deep into the fungal kingdom, showcasing the aesthetics of these perplexing yet enchanting organisms, and explore some of their natural and cultural curiosities.

The talk is open to both members and visitors – bring along friends and family. The evening will commence from 7.30 pm on Friday 14 June 2019 at the Fellowship Room, behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine VIC (next door to the Castlemaine Art Museum). Tea and snacks available afterwards. There is no cost for attendance.

If you need further information please contact Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club.

 

Outcomes of our Bird Watch Workshop in May 2019

Posted on 12 June, 2019 by Jess

Bird monitoring at Connecting Country

A young Spotted Pardalote seen during a local bird survey (photo by Jane Rusden)

When Connecting Country started back in 2010, we began to survey woodland birds to monitor if our restoration efforts were influencing biodiversity. We carefully designed our study with the help of a university professor and selected 50 sites on private land across the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria. Since 2010, we have conducted over 1,200 bird surveys and collected 24,000 bird records. To read about the results of our long term bird monitoring – click here.

Previously, we had funding for Connecting Country staff to establish the program and conduct bird monitoring (click here). To allow bird monitoring to continue during fluctuations in funding, and ensure community relevance, we are moving to a system where data is collected by ‘citizen scientists’ – volunteers from the local community with an interest in nature conservation and bird watching. To learn more about this new approach – click here. We are now working closely with Birdlife Castlemaine District to continue our program. As we transition to this new approach, it is important our bird monitoring program aligns with community objectives.

Bird Watch workshop

Fifteen people attended an interactive community workshop on 19 May 2019 in Chewton. The purpose of the workshop was to clarify the aims of our monitoring program. We wanted to check if the questions we are asking about how our woodland birds are faring in the region are in line with concerns and objectives of the local community. We asked participants what they most wanted to learn about our birds.

While people were interested in a broad range of topics, three key themes emerged from our workshop that were relevant to monitoring. People are particularly interested in:

  • Effects of new housing developments on birds.
  • Effects of climate change on birds.
  • Effects of landscape restoration on birds (i.e., continuing our long term monitoring project).

We learnt a lot about what the community cares about, and we’ll be keeping this in mind as we consider new projects and funding opportunities in the future. You can read the outcomes of the day here. Connecting Country would like to sincerely thank all participants in the workshop for their contributions.

A common bronzewing at a birdbath (photo by Jane Rusden)

Future bird monitoring

Based on the discussion from the workshop, with the help of an amazing team of volunteers, we’re going to continue to monitor our existing bird survey sites, and build on the substantial data already collected. Our aim is to survey our 50 existing sites, or a subset according to available resources. We will continue to our investigation of the effects of landscape restoration on birds, and continue to collect long-term data on the effects of climatic events on birds in the region. If our capacity grows, we will be able to add additional sites, perhaps at housing developments.

 

Volunteer with Connecting Country – Biodiversity data officer

Posted on 11 June, 2019 by Jess

Do you have skills and interests in data management and collation? Interested in contributing to biodiversity conservation in the Mount Alexander Region, but prefer to work in a friendly office environment?

Connecting Country’s biodiversity monitoring

Adding our records into the VBA will help protect species like this Brush-tailed Phascogale (photo by Jess Lawton)

Connecting Country’s biodiversity monitoring began in 2010 and is central to our ongoing efforts towards habitat restoration and healthy environments in the Mount Alexander Region. Rigorous, long-term monitoring is essential to determine if threatened species are declining, or on-ground habitat restoration is successfully increasing populations of at-risk species, such as the brush-tailed phascogale and woodland birds. Connecting Country monitors birds, arboreal mammals, and frogs and reptiles. To date we have collected over 23,425 bird records.

As part of our Habitat Health Check Project, we are reviewing our long-term monitoring programs,  empowering our community to monitor biodiversity, and, importantly, ensuring that the data we collect is being shared and used appropriately.

We’re sharing our bird and mammal data so it can be useful to all

The Victorian Biodiversity Atlas (VBA) is a web-based information system designed to manage information about native and species present in Victoria. The VBA species observations are a foundation dataset that feeds into many biodiversity tools used in the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s everyday decision making. It shows where wildlife is now and how this has changed over time. It provides a core input to government processes, decisions and programs that impact native species.

The biodiversity data officer will coordinate the significant task of entering Connecting Country’s historic data sets into the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas.  Entry of fauna records into the VBA is an essential part of Connecting Country’s ongoing efforts towards habitat enhancement and healthy environments in the Mount Alexander Region. Adding records to the VBA is also a way to influence a range of government investment, regulation and management decisions.

Biodiversity data officer role

This is a volunteer role that would suit someone who is available to commit to working from the Connecting Country Office in Castlemaine VIC for around one day a week. We’ll provide training on how to use the VBA. Please click here to see the position description for this role, or feel free to contact jess@connectingcountry.org.au (Mondays and Tuesdays) for more information.

 

Photo competition, an opportunity to put local Eucalypts on the cover

Posted on 6 June, 2019 by Jacqui

A nation-wide photography competition run by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub is now open, offering an opportunity for anyone to submit photos capturing the beauty of Mount Alexander region’s eucalypts.

Yellow Gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) is one of our local eucalypts worthy of a photo. Mass flowering of this species is still continuing across our region, and it makes a stunning specimen to photograph for its smooth yellowish bark (sometimes rough at the base) and well formed shapely buds in threes.

The competition is being held to celebrate Australian eucalypts, which include the genera Eucalyptus, Angophora and Corymbia. It also marks a significant milestone in eucalypt conservation. A nation-wide assessment of the conservation status of Australian eucalypts is being completed to inform us about species at risk through a national conservation action plan for eucalypts.

Photos of high resolution (300 DPI 1-5 MB) can be submitted in three categories:

  • Trees.
  • Flowers and nuts.
  • Features (bark, foliage or anything else of artistic merit).


Prizes

Winning photographs will be included in the national conservation action plan for eucalypts and social media. Winners of each category will also receive a prize pack of the following books:

  • Eucalyptus, the award winning novel by Murray Bail.
  • Eucalyptus: An Illustrated Guide to Identification by Ian Brooker and David Kleinig.

 A river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) at Simpsons Gap, Northern Territory (photo by Jaana Dielenberg)


Photographs

To submit photos include the following information:

  • Photographer name.
  • Location photo was taken.
  • What species you think it is, if known.
  • Supplementary photos of buds and nuts (even if they are scraps from beneath the tree) and a general location so the identity of the species can be confirmed.

If you have multiple images consider supplying them in dropbox or another file sharing application.

You will also need to give consent to the Threatened Species Recovery Hub and the University of Queensland to use your photos in the national action plan and other materials used to promote this project.

To submit entries and get more information:

Competition closes: Monday 22 July 2019, with winners notified in late July.