Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Workshop 27 March 2015 – Making Connections: a bird’s eye view

Prepared by Habitat for Bush Birds Coordinator Tanya Loos.

On Friday March 27, some 30 people gathered together in the Sutton Grange area to explore  landscape ecology using the feathered five as our practical examples – these being our five focal species for the Habitat for Bush birds project; the Jacky Winter, Painted Button-quail, Hooded Robin, Brown Treecreeper and the Diamond Firetail.   

Dr Pia Lentini, an ecologist from Melbourne University brought her considerable expertise to the Sutton Grange hall to introduce us to concepts such as landscape connectivity and landscape ecology. Pia’s work on the Travelling Stock Routes of NSW has helped come up with some clear messages:

  • Habitat complexity is key – logs, shrubs, leaf litter: ‘mess’ in general
  • Large old trees in paddocks are important for a wide range of fauna such as woodland birds, microbats and bees
  • What makes up a “connected landscape” is different for different species
  • Position is also important- nearby native pasture or a patch of land with low resource use (i.e., low stocking rates) can really help fauna

Pia also introduced us to some principles of conservation planning –  How do we prioritise our actions?  We dipped our toes into this complex field by looking at a case studies and plenty of pictures of woodland birds. Pia concluded with mentioning that her environmental department at Melbourne University has carried out some conservation planning work using the eleven priority woodland bird zones identified for the Habitat for Bush Birds project. Watch this space – as Pia’s research is completed we will let you know more!

I gave a short presentation on the feathered five and structural habitat, with plenty of focus on behaviour and also identification of these declining woodland birds.

After lunch, David Merrick from Tarrleah Drive shared his story of the revegetation work that has been achieved in his small community over the past fifteen years. As one participant said,  David’s talk summarised beautifully “ the community interaction to create the habitat, and the ongoing interaction required to continue the work”.  Tarrleah resident Tamsin Byrne also kindly lent us her photo albums from the Tarrleah Drive revegetation works.

Exclusion plots

One of the ways to help preserve structural habitat in your woodland is to establish a series of exclusion plots – we sadly ran out of time before our visit to Axe Creek Landcare’s rehabilitation site to view the nifty plots pictured below and which can be viewed at Stony Crossing, Axe Creek Road (between Everode Drive and Steens Road).

In our Spring Workshop series,  we have a whole workshop devoted to “Conservation fencing: how to design, place and construct a fence or plot and monitor the results”: Sunday 13 September 2015.

Bird walk

We travelled to Tamsin Byrne’s property on Tarrleah Drive to do some birdwatching – this property has been lovingly revegetated and the box ironbark forest enhanced with supplementary planting. The birds were a bit thin on the ground that afternoon, but most people had views of Scarlet Robins, Grey Fantails and other small bush birds. The ancient red Box was an absolute delight!

Resources and Links:

Pia’s presentation Pia Lentini presentation 2015

Two scientific papers by Pia Lentini et al 2011 – Birds         Lentini et al 2011- SRNa

Tanya’s presentation  Birds and Landscape ecology presentation Mar 27

Recommended reading:

Wildlife on farms; how to conserve native animals 2003 David Lindenmeyer CSIRO publishing
Planting for wildlife: a practical guide for restoring native woodlands 2014 David Lindenmeyer CSIRO publishing
How to plan wildlife landscapes: a guide for community organisations 2002 DNRE
Recreating the country: a blueprint for the deisgn of sustainable landscapes 2009 Stephen Murphy
Ian Lunt’s blog

We were most fortunate to have Shane Carey present on the day to take some photographs. Shane is a photojournalism student at Latrobe University, who is taking photos of Connecting Country and our activities for his university requirements. Thanks Shane! Please click on the photos below to see them full size – especially the Red Box photo!

Dr Pia Lentini presents the ins and outs of conservation planning and connectivity

Dr Pia Lentini presents

Connecting Country- The Feathered Five

“The Jacky Winter does this movement with its tail!”


"The feathered five went thataway!"

“The feathered five went thataway!”

David Merrick and participants

David Merrick and participants

Tamsin Byrne's incredible Red Box tree.

Tamsin Byrne’s incredible Red Box tree.

One of Axe Creek Landcare's exclusion plots

One of Axe Creek Landcare’s exclusion plots

What a difference!

What a difference! Grazed on the right hand side, and protected by the netting on the left.