Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

A team effort: monitoring biodiversity at Connecting Country

Posted on 3 December, 2019 by Jess

Community has always been at the core of what we do at Connecting Country. In recent years, it’s been increasingly difficult to source funding for environmental projects. In this new phase, we’ve had to rely on our community even more.

It is important we monitor local biodiversity so we can understand how our on-ground works are helping species. In past years, Connecting Country was able to employ staff members to monitor over 50 woodland bird survey sites, 450 nestboxes, and 48 reptile and frog sites.

Community members monitoring birds (photo: Connecting Country archives)

Nestbox monitoring
In recent times, the funding that once covered this monitoring has ended. 2018 was the first year our nestbox monitoring program was not funded. But that didn’t stop us! Asha, Beth, and Jess were able to incorporate nestbox monitoring into work and volunteer time. With the help of an army of volunteers, we monitored 297 of our 300 ‘core’ nestboxes. Special thanks to Beth, Asha, and Jeremy, Lori, Bev, Paul, Gayle, Carmen, Mal, Damian, Frances, Lachlan, Naomi, Claire, Meg and Naomi for providing invaluable assistance with our nestbox program.

Monitoring nestboxes (photo: Tanya Loos)

Woodland bird monitoring
Later in 2018, we received funding from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust to review all our monitoring programs, and to support volunteer ‘citizen scientists’ to carry out the monitoring. Spring 2019 was the first year our woodland bird sites were monitored by citizen scientists. Special thanks to our keen bird monitors: Damian, Lex, Jane R, Peter, Geoff, Jennifer, Euan, Asha, Jacqui, Jane M, Kerri P, Kerrie J, Lawrie, Lou, Sue, Peter, Steve, Tanya, Angus and Bob.

Reptile and frog monitoring
Our reptile and frog monitoring program has struggled to continue without ongoing funding.  We’re going to review our reptile and frog monitoring program early next year – so watch this space! Thank you to Mike, Paul, Thea, David, Kerrie, Rob, Kim, Mark, Alex, Beth, Neville, Geraldine, Geoff, Kerri, Tusker, Peter, Helen, Leanne, Jane S, Brendan and Jane R for your efforts with this program.

Many of our landscape restoration projects target species like this juvenile Spotted Pardalote (photo: Jane Rusden)

Data entry
We’ve collected nearly 25,000 species records since 2010. This year we recognized the importance of sharing this information with government agencies, so it can be put to the best use possible. We put a call out to see if anyone would be interested in assisting us with data entry, and we were blown away by many wonderful people offering to help. Thanks to Lou, Karen, Alex, and Corey – our data entry heroes! – for coming in to Connecting Country on a weekly basis, sitting in front of a computer screen and entering our species records into the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas.

Thank you!
This year, we had a small amount of money for a humble thank-you celebration for our volunteers. We wanted to be inclusive, so we initially wrote a list of all the people who had volunteered with us in any capacity over the past 2 years. This list came to over 120 people!  As much as we would have liked to have thanked each person, this was just not possible this year. So, we limited our celebration to our monitoring volunteers.

We enjoyed celebratory drinks and nibbles in The Hub Plot garden, a short summary of our monitoring achievements over the last two years, and Connecting Country’s inaugural ‘Klop’ game championship. Thank you to everyone who came and made it a wonderful evening with great company. A 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 monitoring programs run off the smell of an oily rag. But, because we are surrounded by an enthusiastic community, we are still able to check in on our local biodiversity and deliver our monitoring programs. If it wasn’t for your hard work, we simply would not be able to monitor our wildlife. To everyone who has helped Connecting Country: Thank you! We are so grateful for your support.



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