Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Wattle book launch – Saturday 28 April 2018

Posted on 23 April, 2018 by Frances

Acacia, known in Australia as wattle, is the largest genus of plants in the country — nearly 1,000 species! Its brilliant flowers transform winter and spring landscapes. But how many wattle species can the average citizen name and recognise?

A new 112 page wattle guide helps the beginner to make a start. In plain language, and generously illustrated, it presents 21 species which flourish in the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria. A general introduction explains different features of wattles, helping identification and appreciation of these tenacious and beautiful plants.

The book is published by Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests (FOBIF) in association with Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club and Connecting Country. The authors are Bernard Slattery, Ern Perkins and Bronwyn Silver.

George Broadway (President, Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club) will launch the book on Saturday 28 April 2018 from 11 am in the Phee Broadway Theatre Foyer, Mechanics Lane, Castlemaine.

Everyone is welcome, refreshments will be served and copies of the book will be available. For further information, please contact FOBIF. If you can’t make the launch, the book will be available from Stoneman’s Bookroom from 28 April, and online from the FOBIF website. Cost is $10.

Here are images of the cover and some sample example pages on one of our favourite prickly plants, Spreading Wattle (clikc arrow to scroll through):


Birdata app and portal – an exciting new step

Posted on 19 April, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Recording bird surveys has just become much easier for a lot of keen bird people in our local area! Last Friday (13 April), over 20 bird survey volunteers gathered at the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Tea Rooms to hear about BirdLife Australia’s smartphone app and bird data website.

Andrew Silcocks from BirdLife Australia manages the Bird Atlas – a comprehensive map of the distribution and numbers of Australian birds. Over the course of three very enjoyable hours, we learned how our data collection helps in bird conservation, how to use the very user-friendly app, and how to examine bird information on the portal known at Birdata.

And we were all very happy to hear Chris Timewell, BirdLife Australia’s Woodland Bird Project Coordinator (formerly Director of Connecting Country), present on the Birds on Farms research project. A separate blog post about the Birds on Farms project will follow soon.

Andrew Silcocks and Chris Timewell from BirdLife Australia


Connecting Country has been an affiliate organisation of BirdLife Australia since 2015. The two organisations are both bird mad (of course!), and collect and share bird data with one another. Connecting Country’s long term monitoring program has sent BirdLife over 20,000 individual records for their Birdata bird mapping project, and we have also extracted data from BirdLife to help with our reporting.

The Birdata app 

The feedback from participants was wonderful! The app is surprisingly easy to use – the phone finds your location, then you give it a site name, add the survey information such as the type of survey, and then simply start counting birds! So for those of you who were unable to attend the workshop, the following comments may encourage you to visit the Birdata website, download the app and have a go!

‘Really clearly explained, and I found the app easy to use’

‘I used Birdata extensively up until about 2 years ago so this provided a valuable update’

‘I had never previously used this app but I now feel very confident to conduct and submit surveys’

‘Opened my eyes to the power of the app AND the portal’.

To download the app click here. In the help section of the Birdata website here, there are short instructional YouTube videos and printed information on the portal and the app. These also might be useful for those of you who attended the workshop and would like a refresher.

The Birdata portal

The Birdata website is referred to as a portal. Once you are logged in, you can see your surveys and all your data. You can edit and change surveys you have done, such as correct a misidentified bird or refine the location.

You can also share your surveys with other people, such as on social media or by email. Any person doing bird surveys for one of our ‘official’ monitoring programs (such as the KBA monitoring, the Perkins surveys, or the Connecting Country sites) can send their data directly to BirdLife using the app if they wish. This saves on time and double handling. However, also emailing a copy of your surveys to us here at Connecting Country will help with keeping track of our bird survey program. Of course, those people who wish to stay with the old pen and paper method are most welcome to do so!

A fantastic feature of the portal is the ability to generate an up-to-the-minute bird list of any area of any size simply by drawing a polygon on the Birdata map. I used this function today to supply a bird list to Sutton Grange Landcare group. See the ‘Explore’ button on the portal for this feature.

Many many thanks to Andrew Silcocks for such an enjoyable and informative workshop! We would also like to thanks the Wettenhall Environment Trust for funding the workshop.

Say ‘swift parrot’! Workshop attendees were all smiles on a beautiful autumn day.






Save the date – Camp Out on the Mount 2.0

Posted on 19 April, 2018 by Asha

Due to the severe weather warnings last weekend, we have rescheduled the 2018 Camp Out on the Mount!

The new date is Friday 11th May (starting late afternoon after school) to Saturday 12th May (finishing late afternoon). A new schedule for all of the activities and more details will be coming out next week, but please save this date in your diaries if you’d like to come.

Pine Assassins from Castlemaine Secondary College from the 2017 Campout