Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

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)

 

Bird of the month: Fuscous Honeyeater

Posted on 25 February, 2021 by Ivan

Welcome to our twelfth Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are lucky to have the talented and charismatic Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, with assistance from the brilliant Damian Kelly and Ash Vigus.

Fuscous Honeyeater (Lichenostomus fuscus)

Since we’ve all been in lockdown and spending most of our days at home, I thought the ever constant, interactive communities of Fuscous Honeyeater a good place to start this month. Partly because their endearing daily antics are the very opposite of what COVID-19 restrictions do to our own lives.

Visually the Fuscous Honeyeater is nothing to rave about, much like us living through lockdown in our PJ’s. In fact, I tell those new to bird watching, if they see a honeyeater but can’t quite work out what species it is, it’s probably a Fuscous. The small yellow tuft of feathers below the eye, on the jawline, can be very difficult to see, and otherwise they are a nondescript, mid olive-brown bird.

Their habit of foraging for insects on the wing, and lerp, honeydew and nectar in the treetops, makes them difficult to see as they flit about in the foliage. There is nothing to indicate which are male and female, although the male is very slightly larger than the female. Immature and non-breeding birds have a yellow gape, whereas breeding birds have an all-black bill (see photo comparison).

Fuscous Honeyeater with a yellow gape, indicating an immature or non-breeding individual (photo: Jane Rusden)

I find the best way to observe this species is at my birdbaths, which they absolutely love – not surprising as they are known to be drawn to water sources. I’ll often see about five birds gathering in a circle like they are at a noisy party, where they shout at each other all at once, then fly off one after the other in quick succession. There have been some long-term studies that indicate the Fuscous Honeyeater is a semi-colonial species, although they breed in monogamous pairs. They lay 1-3 eggs in a cup shaped nest that appear to be quite flimsy. However, they must be successful breeders and their densities can be up to five birds per hectare in highly suitable habitat.

If you find yourself somewhere on the east coast, between South Australia and Queensland, in a dryer forest, straining to looking at an olive-brown honeyeater that you can’t quite identify, but it’s vigorously chasing other birds through the canopy or shouting at it’s friends … you might be looking at a Fuscous Honeyeater.

Fuscous Honeyeater with a black bill indicating it’s a breeding adult (photo: Jane Rusden)

To listen to the call of the Fuscous Honeyeater, please  visit Graeme Chapman’s website – click here

A big thank you to contributors to this edition of Bird of the Month – Jane Rusden and Damian Kelly – for their amazing knowledge and skills.

 

 

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)

 

Landcare video updates – Sutton Grange Landcare Group

Posted on 25 February, 2021 by Asha

To complement the February 2021 Landcare Link-up, we asked each Landcare and Friends group in the Mount Alexander region (Central Victoria) to film a short video update to share their achievements with the community. As usual, Landcarers rose to the occasion! We will be sharing these videos through a series of blog posts, as well as screening them at the Landcare Link-up and uploading them to our Landcare page.

The Sutton Grange Landcare Group video features committee member Zane, as he takes us on an inspiring and entertaining tour of some of the group’s recent projects. To watch their excellent video, scroll down to the image below or – click here

With an active and diverse committee, Sutton Grange Landcare Group has many landscape restoration projects on the go, as well as ongoing connections with their community through their engaging and informative newsletter, and meetings that often feature fabulous guest speakers.

Zane explains some of the impacts the pandemic has had on their group, and the ways that they are still carrying on and thriving.

To learn more or get involved with Sutton Grange Landcare Group, contact them via email at

 

Weed management after fire – resources from WESI

Posted on 18 February, 2021 by Jacqui

After wildfire, our ecosystems are extremely vulnerable to weed invasion. The blank canvas created by wildfire is often a perfect platform for invasive species, with little competition to prevent a blanket of weeds from returning to the landscape, at the expense of many vulnerable native species.

The Weeds at the Early Stage of Invasion (WESI) team recently uploaded four webinars from their recent online forum on weed management after fire. This forum featured four separate webinars with a variety of topics and guest speakers from all over the state, and was very popular with the community and stakeholders. The list of guest speakers and presenters is staggering and the events were very well put together.

Invasive species management, including weed management, is an integral component of any landscape or reserve scale conservation program. The benefits of a preventative and early intervention approach has been adopted in many parts of the world with great success. The WESI Project was created to promote these benefits and enable Victoria to adopt this approach, with a focus on high-risk invasive weeds that are in the early stage of invasion and threaten biodiversity. They work with public land and biodiversity managers all over Victoria. The WESI Project, and several other weed management projects, are funded by the Victorian Government through the Weeds and Pests on Public Land program.

Whether you are managing weeds in fire impacted areas or other areas, we are sure much of the content will be relevant. We highly recommend having a look.

To view the webinar recordings, please click on the following links:

To view the complete webinar series directly on YouTube series – click here

Alternatively, to access the recordings of the four webinars, along with the links posted in the online chat function during each event – click here

Weed Management After fire Webinar Image Cape Conran: Andrew Geschke

Cape Conran regeneration after a devastating fire in 2020 (photo by Andrew Geschke)

 

 

Landcare video updates – Golden Point Landcare

Posted on 18 February, 2021 by Asha

To complement the February 2021 Landcare Link-up, we asked each Landcare and Friends group in the Mount Alexander region (Central Victoria) to film a short video update to share their achievements with the community. As usual, Landcarers rose to the occasion! We will be sharing these videos through a series of blog posts, as well as screening them at the Landcare Link-up and uploading them to our Landcare page.

This Landcare video update from Golden Point Landcare is a lovely conversation between executive committee members Marie and Jennifer. To watch the video click on the image below or – click here

Learn about some of the long history of the group and some of their upcoming activities, such as the Clean Up Australia Day working bee around Expedition Pass Reservoir. Also discussed are challenges the group faces, some positive local changes, and new engagement with community members.

If you would like to learn more or get involved with Golden Point Landcare, contact Jennifer via email at j.pryce@bigpond.com

 

Landcare video updates – Maldon Urban Landcare Group (MULGA)

Posted on 18 February, 2021 by Asha

To complement the February 2021 Landcare Link-up, we invited each Landcare and Friends group in the Mount Alexander region (Central Victoria) to film a short video update to share their achievements with the community. As usual, Landcarers rose to the occasion! We will be sharing these videos through a series of blog posts, as well as screening them at the Landcare Link-up and uploading them to our Landcare page.

Maldon Urban Landcare Group (MULGA) provided a video update that takes us on a visual journey through some of their amazing work. To view the video click on the image below or – click here

MULGA’s video includes footage of a beautiful large old eucalypt as a snapshot of their ‘Living Treasures’ project. They aim to obtain detailed records for eucalypts that are estimated as growing before 1852 (pre-European settlement) in Maldon, and to achieve long-term protection for these trees.

To read more about MULGA and their work – click here
If you would like to get involved, contact Bev via email at maldonurbanlandcare@gmail.com

 

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)

 

Landcare video updates – Tarrangower Cactus Control Group

Posted on 11 February, 2021 by Asha

To complement the February 2021 Landcare Link-up, each Landcare/Friends group in the Mount Alexander region was invited to film a short video update to share their achievements with the community. As usual, Landcarers rose to the occasion! We will be sharing these videos through a series of blog posts, as well as screening them at the Landcare Link-up and uploading them to our Landcare page.

Our second video update is from the Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (aka Cactus Warriors!). Click here or scroll down to view their video, which tells us about their group and captures the fun and hard work of a typical cactus control field day. It certainly is inspiring and well put together.

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (TCCG) consists of Landcare volunteers dedicated to the eradication of Wheel Cactus (Opuntia robusta). TCCG, in conjunction with Parks Victoria, holds friendly and informal Wheel Cactus Control community field days to inform and demonstrate control techniques. These field days always end with a free BBQ lunch, cuppa and cake, as well as the opportunity to chat, exchange ideas and make contacts. It is a great opportunity to spend a rewarding morning outdoors, meeting neighbours and others who are concerned about preserving and improving our unique environment. Everyone is welcome, no previous experience is required and all equipment is supplied.

TCCG volunteers also provide advice and practical assistance to landholders, conduct trials of control methods and network with other Landcare and weed control groups, locally and nationally. TCCG raises awareness of the extent of the Wheel Cactus problem and its status as a Weed of National Significance through networking, regular articles in local newspapers and other media, pamphlets and participation in local community events.

If you would like to learn more about the Tarrangower Cactus Control Group or to get involved, visit their website at www.cactuswarriors.org or email info@cactuswarriors.org

 

Feral photo and video competition: now open

Posted on 11 February, 2021 by Ivan

Here is a call out to the photographers in our region, who might be interested in snapping some invasive plants and animals for the Centre of Invasive Species Solutions, who are running a photo and video competition. The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions is Australia’s collaborative research, development and extension organisation formed to tackle the ongoing threat from invasive vertebrate pests, and weeds. They concentrate on developing smarter tools to prevent and detect new invasions, advanced and tactical tools to strengthen integrated management strategies and knowledge.

The competition entries will be published on their website, and will feature some pretty amazing prizes for the lucky winners. Please see the full provided details below, from their website.

The popular Feral Photo and Video Competition is being reignited by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions with some amazing prizes on offer thanks to our competition collaborators Animal Trap SolutionsCSIRO Publishing and Outdoor Cameras Australia.

Submit your images and video footage which showcase invasive species in Australia. This might include pest animals, weed infestations, exotic insects and/or the damage these species cause. Remote camera images and footage is allowed.

Entry is free and you can enter as many times as you’d like, noting each time you enter you will have to fill out the complete form.

The winning entries will be completely decided by you, the audience, through a popular vote (details on how to vote below). The entries with the most votes will be notified by phone to receive one of the four major prizes listed below.

So share your entry far and wide via social media or email, to get as many votes as possible.

You can list a list of the entries so far, by clicking here. Below is our favourite entry to date, from Sandy Horne.

Squabble in the stubble. Sandy Horne entry to the feral photo competition.

Key dates:

Entries open: Tuesday February 2nd, 2021 – 6am AEDT

Entries close: Friday April 30th, 2021 – 12pm AEST

Voting open: Tuesday February 2nd, 2021 – 6am AEDT

Voting closes: Friday May 14th, 12pm AEST

Prize winners notified: Week beginning May 17th 2021

For more details, please click here

 

 

Landcare video updates – Muckleford Catchment Landcare

Posted on 11 February, 2021 by Asha

To complement the February 2021 Landcare Link-up, each Landcare/Friends group in the Mount Alexander region was invited to film a short video update to share some of their achievements with the community. As usual, Landcarers rose to the occasion! We will be sharing these videos through a series of blog posts, as well as screening them at the Landcare Link-up and uploading them to our Landcare page.

The first of our Landcare video updates comes from Muckleford Catchment Landcare. Click here or scroll down to view their video, which shows some of the group’s past and current revegetation works, takes us through their nest box monitoring project, and gives insight into how the group has been navigating through the pandemic. We really enjoyed the video and thought it was an inspiration to see the growth of the revegetation in such a short time.

The aims of the Muckleford Catchment Landcare group are to:

  • improve water quality in the Muckleford Creek and its tributaries
  • conserve soil in the Muckleford Creek catchment
  • create a healthy and viable balance between farming and biodiversity
  • encourage discussion, debate, participation and co-operation between landholders within the catchment
  • harness local knowledge and expertise to improve the environment and productivity
  • assist landholders to access funding for land improvement projects

If you would like to learn more about Muckleford Catchment Landcare or get involved, visit their website at www.mucklefordlandcare.wordpress.com or email mucklefordlandcare@gmail.com

 

How to build a wetland, and why

Posted on 11 February, 2021 by Ivan

We came across this thoughtful and well-developed article on how to build a wetland on your property and why this might be beneficial for your landscape, biodiversity and primary production. The article is written by Hepburn Shire resident, and ecological author, Mara Ripani, for Pip Magazine. We particularly liked the way she entwined her ecological observations, with solid science and creative writing.

‘Think of it as the most amazing natural swimming pool, where all the indigenous plants you have introduced filter and absorb nutrients. In summer the wind passes through the water’s surface cooling down local microclimates through evapotranspiration’.

How To Build A Wetland

Wetlands should have a broad mixture of plants to be established both on the edges and inside the wetland itself, via a relatively shallow gradient transition. Photo: Mara Ripani

 

Wetlands are powerhouses of biodiversity, supporting endless lifeforms. We show you how (and why you should) build a wetland.

It is possible to create extraordinarily beautiful and meaningful habitat by building a wetland.

Unlike a typical dam, a wetland will have been designed to allow for a broad range of aquatic plants, creating homes for frogs, insects, visiting birds, dragonflies, bats, antechinus, planigale, brolgas, native geese and bandicoots, to name a few.

Wetlands, swamps, damplands and sumplands all vary in terms of the amount of water they hold at different times of the year. With some holding water most of the time and others only showing water above soil during very wet seasonal rains.

They are all extremely important, as they provide homes and drinking water for our exceedingly beautiful wildlife and help to cool local microclimates. They are dynamic vibrantly rich habitats, which allow us to reconnect with the wild and welcome in an exciting chorus of animals.

Wetlands and clay soil

The first step to designing and beginning to build a wetland is to identify your soil type, as only clay will do. And not just any clay. Some clay soils are dispersive meaning that they do not stick together when wet.

A clay soil that when moist “can be rolled to the thickness of a pencil without breaking apart, will hold water once it has been compacted” (Romanowski 1998).

Another approach for determining the clay content of your soil is to place a sample of soil taken from the desired wetland site and place it in a glass jar. Shake the jar vigorously with lid tightly on and then let the soil settle for up to 24 hours, by which time sand should settle to the very bottom. Followed by silt and clay. Click here for help.

To test if soil is dispersive (structurally unstable) click here.

To read the full article, please click on the link below via the Pip Magazine.
pipmagazine.com.au/build/build-a-wetland/

 

 

Connecting with old paddock trees: Guildford

Posted on 5 February, 2021 by Ivan

We were lucky enough to tour Guildford and surrounds this week, hosted by passionate local character and historian Max Kay (who also happens to be Connecting Country’s Treasurer), and his daughter and photographer Gen Kay. Our aim was to capture an array of photographs featuring the local landscape, threats and some of the natural assets of our region. The photographs are to be used in our upcoming Healthy Landscapes Guide, which is about helping our local farmers and other landholders manage their land sustainably for the benefit of farms, wildlife, and broader landscape health.

Another highlight of the tour was a visit to long-serving Guildford and Upper Loddon Landcare President and local legend Maurie Dynon, who has an amazing knowledge of the region and the restoration efforts over the past few decades. Maurie has preserved many of the large native trees on his property, including a Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) he estimates to be over 500 years old.

Well done Maurie, it is still growing strong and looking healthy. The large old trees we visited in Guildford on private property were a mix of Yellow-Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) and Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa). The trees are a stunning example of valuable habitat and Indigenous cultural heritage, and what can be achieved if these trees are protected and encouraged to exist within farming landscapes. Maurie kindly invited us to photograph the large scar tree near his dam which he learned is a canoe tree when he had it assessed and registered.

We are lucky enough to have old paddock trees in our shire, with many of them hundreds of years old. They provide critical resources for wildlife including hollows which are slow to develop taking more than a hundred years to form, and as such are a limited resource in surrounding regenerating woodlands and forests.

Paddock trees are associated with an increase in the abundance and diversity of insect pollinators and natural pest control agents.  Native microbats, lizards, and birds will prey on common farm pests, and many of these species use paddock trees for roosting, nesting and foraging due to their thick bark, large canopies, and often heavy flowering.

Please enjoy a selection of photographs, taken on the day, with more to come from professional photographer Gen Kay. Photos by Ivan Carter.

Healthy Landscapes guidebook

The guidebook will cover practical topics such as:

  • Reading your landscape: Assessing a property to identify natural assets (e.g., remnant vegetation and large old trees), threats (e.g., weeds, overgrazing, erosion), the need for shade and shelter for stock.
  • Property planning: Whole-property planning tailored to landholder needs and aspirations, to protect and enhance natural assets, increase farm productivity, reduce threats and build farm resilience.
  • Managing soil and water: Identifying soil types, managing soil erosion, building soil carbon, managing farm dams as habitat, fencing waterways and off-stream watering to improve water quality.
  • Promoting biodiversity: Fencing remnant vegetation, grazing exclusion, revegetation techniques, selecting revegetation areas and plants to achieve landscape connectivity, enhance remnant vegetation, protect soil and shelter stock.
  • Managing threats: Weed and pest animal identification, control methods, integrated pest management, staying ahead of new and emerging weeds using the latest online tools.

 

 

BRP Remnant Rescue at Yandoit – a landholder story

Posted on 4 February, 2021 by Jacqui

Connecting Country has been privileged to oversee a three-year project in collaboration with our project partners: local landholders, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Trust for Nature, Parks Victoria, and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), funded through DELWP’s Biodiversity Response Planning (BRP).  The project will finish at the end of June 2021. We hope you enjoy this article about participating landholders Rocco and Sue Montesano, and their caretaker Steph Towner, who spoke to Connecting Country’s Bonnie Humphreys recently.

Rocco and Sue Montesano’s property at Yandoit is managed for agriculture and wildlife.  For the past 29 years, the property has been managed with the assistance of Steph Towner, who lives on site as caretaker. Previously home to horses and cattle, the property contains expansive paddocks, remnant trees, areas of bushland and is lucky enough to have the Jumcra (Jim Crow Creek) running through the property. Steph often sees Rakali and Platypus swimming about in the creek.

‘It’s so special to see animals around the farm and to be able to look after the land and improve it for all the animals.’

Steph loves learning about the local flora and fauna that inhabit the property. She has a special spot for the big trees amongst the regeneration, with her favourite a very old and large Yellow Box. She says has been lucky enough to see wildlife of all kinds using this habitat, including eagles, Sacred Kingfishers, Crested Shrike-tits, and  Brush-tailed Phascogales.

YellowBox_Towner_Steph Yandoit

Steph’s favourite tree is a very large old Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora). Photo Steph Towner.

Working full time meant that she didn’t have much time to explore the property, but more recently life has allowed her time to walk around and get to know it better. With the help of her very knowledgeable friend, Robyn Higgins, she has also been getting more familiar with her plants.

‘The property is already home to lots of special plants such as Dianella amoena, blue devils, remnant bottlebrushes, lilies and orchids. The diversity of the landscape, from rocky hills to valleys and creeks, make it a prime habitat.’

Another large old tree favourite, a River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) with the creek in flood. Photo Steph Towner.

‘I’m privileged to be able to work on the land helping the regeneration and repair process.’

She found out about Connecting Country through friends and local media, and although she didn’t know if the property would be eligible (as it is just outside of the Shire boundary) she contacted Connecting Country to enquire!

Steph notes,  ‘Rocco and Sue were greatly interested in how we might be able to work together with Connecting Country for the greater benefit of the flora and fauna as well as continuing cattle side of the property.’ 

With Connecting Country’s help through the BRP Remnant Rescue project, fencing was built to exclude stock grazing, planting to increase understorey presence and diversity, and rabbits and weeds treated.

‘It was amazing to see how the works crew (Djandak) operated, they were like a well-oiled machine, and they just got the work done in a few days.’

Within the project areas, all the fallen trees are being left on the ground for wildlife. These are especially important for a number of woodland birds, and for animals such as reptiles, echidnas and brush-tailed phascogales. The rest of the property is currently lightly stocked to give native plants the chance to regenerate.

Variable glycine (Glycine tabacina). Photo Steph Towner.

Connecting Country’s project on the property has enabled lots of new native plants to be established on-site. It aimed to regenerate and repair the land through the project activities and existing management practices. Steph is looking forward to watching the plants grow and seeing what animals use the habitat.

While there is still lots more work to be done, Steph says this project has been a great step forward.

‘We would like to extend thanks to Connecting Country and their project partners.’

Thank you Rocco, Sue, and Steph for all your work to restore habitat, and for sharing your story.

Steph is looking forward to caring for the plants that have gone in and watching them grow. Photo Bonnie Humphreys.

The creekside vegetation was extended with planting and fenced to exclude stock. Photo Bonnie Humphreys.

 

 

Landscape restoration resource – Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Guide for Landcare

Posted on 4 February, 2021 by Jacqui

Our rabbit control blog post last week mentioned the importance of considering cultural heritage when planning rabbit control and as a follow-up, we have provided access to the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Guide for Landcare.

The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Guide published in October 2019 can be useful in understanding our shared responsibility to protect cultural heritage. The guide assists Landcare, volunteer groups and the community that care for landscapes in Victoria to better understand the state’s Aboriginal cultural heritage management process.

The guide was updated in January 2020  to step out the process for meeting the requirements of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and helps groups and networks determine whether a Cultural Heritage Permit is required. The guide also provides the key Aboriginal cultural heritage contacts, including for the 11 Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) in Victoria.

The guide has been developed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in collaboration with members of the Landcare community, Aboriginal Victoria, Registered Aboriginal Parties, the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council and Catchment Management Authorities to:
• raise awareness, knowledge and appreciation for all Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.
• assist the community to understand their obligations and requirements to ensure compliance with the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2018.
• build the capability and capacity of both Landcare and Traditional Owners to partner for the delivery of environmental outcomes.

To view or download the guide: click here

 

Landcare Australia Webinar Series: catch-up online

Posted on 28 January, 2021 by Ivan

It sure was a busy year for webinars in 2020, with Connecting Country hosting no less than a dozen online events and training sessions. Landcare Australia was also busy with a series of webinars throughout 2020, which delighted audiences in lockdown with a variety of interesting topics. The topics tapped the immense knowledge of the Landcare community and allowed the knowledge to be shared and enjoyed across the nation.

The webinar series included five ways to improve soil health, engaging youth in Landcare, how to recruit volunteers and approaching Landcare as a business. If you missed these webinars in 2020, they are now available as recorded videos online through the Landcare Australia website. Please read on for details of the full list of topics and where to locate the online webinar videos. We are particularly excited about the soil health and improvements webinar video, which highlights some practical and achievable methods to improve soil health on your property.

Landcare Stall at the Maldon Market, showing the importance of engaging with the community (photo courtesy of Tarrangower Times)

 

Landcare Australia Webinar Series

2020 could be renamed the Year of the Webinar, and we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who joined us for a Landcare webinar! There is a wealth of knowledge in the Landcare community, and we’ve had some brilliant sessions. You can view the recordings of our previous webinars further down this page.

The program for the 2021 Landcare Webinar Series will be announced in February, and you can register below to be sure you’re kept up to date.

Our Landcare webinars are hosted on online community platform, Landcarer. You can register for Landcarer by visiting www.landcarer.com.au, however you can still access the webinars without registering.

If you missed any of our National Landcare Conference webinars in 2020, they’re all available for you to watch online. You can catch up on sessions about recruiting and engaging volunteers, how two Landcare organisations found great success operating as businesses, five interventions that can help improve soil health, and more. Visit this page to access the recordings, and sign up for this year’s Landcare Webinar Program.

 

Rabbit Buster Month with North Central CMA

Posted on 28 January, 2021 by Ivan

Rabbits are a persistent landscape pest in our region, particularly in the granitic soils around Mount Alexander in central Victoria. Many landholders and Landcare groups have implemented rabbit control programs over the past decades, with some excellent outcomes across the region. It is estimated that approximately 200 million feral rabbits inhabit Australia, a staggering number, but considerably less than the numbers prior to the introduction of the biological control viruses.

February is the North Central Catchment Management Authority’s (CMA) ‘Rabbit Buster’ month, when landholders and communities are encouraged to revisit their rabbit control plans. Connecting Country strongly encourages landholders to participate in this program. Persistence is a vital aspect of rabbit control, especially when numbers are relatively low.

To view Connecting Country’s fact sheet dedicated to rabbit control – click here

Rabbits can impact native vegetation, revegetation and pastures alike (photo: Pest Smart CRC)

 

Here is an from the North Central CMA, regarding their Rabbit Buster month 2021.

Whilst Rabbit Buster field days have been postponsed until later in 2021, there is plenty to be done now. While the grass is dry and prior to autumn rains, numbers are usually at their lowest.

The Victorian Rabbit Action Network published the ‘Rabbit Recipe’ in October 2020, advocating the following steps:

  • Make an assessment of the rabbit population = the size of your problem.
  • Following this, undertake and monitor a baiting program.
  • Baiting should be followed by ripping. The deeper the better.
  • Warren destruction is the key to effective rabbit control ‘Destroy the warren, Destroy the rabbit’.*
  • Continue monitoring on an ongoing basis to detect and treat any re-infestation of your property.

*It is noted that dozer ripping is site-specific and can only be done where practical and culturally safe to do so.

Resources to support you…

Agriculture Victoria

Ag Vic has a wealth of information to help you start or support your rabbit control program.

‘Rabbit control is most cost-effective in late summer and early autumn as breeding has generally paused at this time. Biological control and naturally harsh environmental conditions can cause added stress on the rabbit population and may lead to longer-lasting results.’

Controlling rabbit populations when they are low is the most cost-effective control and efforts are more likely to be sustained. Agriculture Victoria Biosecurity Officers are always willing to discuss rabbit control options with you.

For more detailed information on Victoria’s research and best practice integrated rabbit control methods – click here 

Victorian Rabbit Action Network (VRAN)

VRAN are committed to promoting community led action on rabbit management in Victoria and supporting people to work together for more effective and sustainable rabbit control.

VRAN can help you through:

  • Running training and mentoring programs, delivering workshops on best-practice rabbit control, and supporting people and organisations to collaborate on rabbit action.
  • Occasional funding grants to support community learning, innovation, and rabbit management (See Funding Opportunities section of their website).
  • Short, easy to view YouTube Videos on all aspects of a rabbit control program – click here

You may even have a VRAN mentor or leader in your area, to check, get in touch with Heidi Kleinert: VRAN Exec Officer via heidi.kleinert@agriculture.vic.gov.au

RabbitScan

RabbitScan remains one of the most user-friendly tools to record rabbit populations. RabbitScan is a free resource for landholders, Landcare groups, community groups, local Councils, professional pest controllers and biosecurity groups. It has been designed by landholders for communities, and it is very easy to use.

What to record:

  • Rabbit activity (such as sightings and warrens).
  • Damage, such as soil erosion.
  • Control activities (such as warren ripping).
  • Disease in rabbit populations (such as RHDV).

The RabbitScan website has all the information you need to use the webpage, download the app, and includes supporting resources – click here

You can even speak with a member of the RabbitScan team to organise some training for your local community.

 

 

Bird of the month: Rainbow Bee-eater

Posted on 27 January, 2021 by Ivan

Welcome to our eleventh Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are lucky to have the talented and charismatic Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, with assistance from the brilliant Damian Kelly and Ash Vigus.

Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus)

Sun lighting up this bird’s feathers to iridescent rainbows is a wonder of the natural world. The Rainbow Bee-eater is arguably the most vibrantly colourful bird of our region in Central Victoria, and it literally lives up to its name both in vivid plumage and diet. While species of Bee-eaters are found world-wide, our one species spends the winter in Northern Australia, then in spring flocks head south, heralding warmer temperatures to come. Newstead cemetery is a local bird hotspot where they breed and can be found until around the end of March, and sometimes into April.

As their name suggests, the Rainbow Bee-eater dines on bees … and wasps, as well as less dangerous prey such as dragonflies, butterflies and other flying insects. The bird will perch up high, waiting until it can make a dashing flight after airborne prey. If it’s an insect with a sting, they will return to their perch and employ ‘bee-rubbing’, a technique where they hold the insect across the bill tip and rub it’s sting out on their perch, before safely swallowing. On occasion they will also forage on the ground or from foliage.

Males are slightly larger and more colourful than females, and have an obvious tail streamer. After migration in large flocks, small groups will splinter off and monogamous pairs will nest in a small colony. Young males hatched the previous year often help parents feed hatchings.

Female Rainbow bee-eater (photo by Ash Vigus)

 

For such a pretty bird, they have what may be surprising nests. I’d be head to toe in dirt if I had my babies in a tunnel, especially if that tunnel was 40 – 150 cm long, and as a female, I’d be the one doing most of the digging. They favour sandy soil or clay banks, in flat or sloping ground, in which to construct their nest tunnel with a chamber at the end. Eggs may be laid straight on the earth, or the chamber lined with grass and feathers.

Usually I’m alerted to Rainbow Bee-eaters by their call. A glance skywards and there you will see them soaring around on extended wings, much like woodswallows do. When lucky, you may observe ‘plunge bathing’, where they fly above water, suddenly dive with a splash, and fly straight to high perch to preen wet feathers. With their graceful flight and gorgeous colours, they never cease to give me a thrill.

Male Rainbow Bee-eater with his tail streamer (photo by Ash Vigus)

 

For more information on local Rainbow Bee-eaters, check out Geoff Park’s amazing blog, Natural Newstead, and put ‘bee-eater’ into his search box – click here

To listen to the call of the Rainbow Bee-eater visit Graeme Chapman’s website – click here

A big thank you to contributors to this edition of Bird of the Month – Jane Rusden, Damian Kelly and Ash Vigus – for their amazing knowledge and skills.

 

 

 

Landcare Link-up – 22 February 2021

Posted on 25 January, 2021 by Asha

You are invited! Representatives from Landcare/Friends groups in the Mount Alexander Region Landcare Network, along with other interested community members and stakeholders, are invited to the biannual Mount Alexander region Landcare Link-up.

As always, the February Link-up will be focused on Landcarers sharing stories of their work. In lieu of in-person presentations, this year local groups have been invited to share a short video update to minimise COVID-19 risks. These will be shared at the Link-up and on the Connecting Country website. Along with the video updates, attendees will be invited to gather in small discussion groups, each focussed on a topic of interest to local Landcarers. Hot drinks and light supper provided.

When: Monday 22 February 2021, 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM

Where: Please book for venue details, as places may be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

RSVP: Please book online at https://www.trybooking.com/BNRGB by Monday 15 February 2021.

More information: Email asha@connectingcountry.org.au or call 0418 428 721.

 

Rivers storytelling with Environment Victoria

Posted on 19 January, 2021 by Ivan

We came across a useful free conservation program run by Environment Victoria, based on building the capacity of communities and individuals to tell effective stories that influence change for positive environmental outcomes for our rivers. We know that telling local stories helps build understanding and is a useful platform for action and practice change.

Over the next few months, Environment Victoria will be bringing people together from across northern Victoria for a comprehensive training program to tell stories that are emotionally compelling and get media attention. If you are interested in joining the free program, please see the following details from the Environment Victoria website.

The Loddon River at Bridgewater is a wonderful asset for biodiversity and the local community (photo: ABC Central Victoria)

 

Environment Victoria’s Rivers storytelling program

To win long-term protection for our rivers, we need to change the stories we tell about them. Join this free training program to find out how.

The stories told in the media about the Murray-Darling Basin make it difficult for regular people to engage – and even harder to see what the solutions are.

We need to tell the stories of our communities, which are bearing the burden of change. Local stories help build understanding and they galvanise people who want to take action.

Over the next few months, Environment Victoria will be bringing people together from across northern Victoria for a comprehensive training program to tell stories that are emotionally compelling and get media attention.

The training sessions will be held monthly. You can attend individual sessions, or commit to the whole program.

Environment Victoria will also be supporting participants with coaching, a list of media contacts in your area and feedback for telling your own story.

At the end of the program, you’ll have published an opinion piece, media story or social media video you’re proud of – and you’ll be connected to a new network of river storytellers in your area.

For further information or to register your interest, visit the Environment Victoria website – click here