Well, another year has passed and another begun since the last issue of Gecko and we have had some changes here at the Bushland Operations Team. Peter Chrismas has left us to pursue a career as a photographer and a recruitment process is underway to replace him as well as Jill Rattray who retired a little while ago.
We have also welcomed Justine Vella as the new Bush Regeneration Team Leader. Justine replaces Andrew Rhodes who is now Bushland Management Officer and Matthew Rudge has been appointed Bush Regeneration Project Officer. Both Justine and Matt have a wealth of experience and we look forward to working with them and the other members of the Bushland Operations Team to ensure our reserves get the best possible care!
So, with lots of new energy in our teams we are looking forward to working again with you all to keep caring for the natural areas of the Blue Mountains.
Bee Hotel workshop – Upper Kedumba Bushcare Group November 2016
Birriban Katoomba High School Landcare, Upper Kedumba Bushcare, Central Park Bushcare and Leura Public School Swampcare all participated in activities to promote and encourage pollinator awareness and habitat.
Upper Kedumba Bushcare group hosted a pollinater habitat (Bee Hotel ) making workshop. Three types of habitats for different bee species were constructed and installed in appropriate places around the site. A simple hanging Bamboo home , an elegant bee box with asorted materials and entry sizes to enhance habitat variey and a sturdy mud home with besser blocks for ground dweling bees, such as our favorite, the Blue Banded Bee.
Some participants also made smaller versions to take home. The group reports that those installed on site already have evidence of happy occupants – within the month !! David Rae installed his “Bee Hilton” which he constructed prior to the day, and reported that he advanced his knowledge of the subject through the workshop. “The production of the clay infill for the blocks was a very useful exercise I think. I have since played around with this at home using a mix of Builders Clay, sand & soil” he said.
The final product!
Philip Nelson spent many hours preparing for the day and having materials ready so the group could simply construct and has written out a comprehensive “how to” information sheet. His advice to those planning a similar event is to construct some hotels first to work out what is best done prior to the day and what are the most suitable tools and materials to use.”
Central Parks Jo Goozeff found a lovely simple way to construct 4 bee hotels out of a hard wood log , these were quickly inhabited by resin bees , cuckoo and mud wasps all fantastic pollinators.
Making the clay bee hotel at Upper Kedumba Karen Reid, Hugh Todd, Judy Smith.
The Birriban Landcare students spent 3 months planning, preparing and making 5 very beautiful bee hotels. The day of installation was marked with a ribbon cutting by a group of school dignitaries and the planting of bee friendly plants in the Birriban habitat garden. Cheekily promoted as “the biggest hotel opening The Blue mountains has seen” the installation warranted an article in the Blue Mountains Gazette.
Leura Public School Swampcare Group celebrated Pollinator week by constructing a mixed material bee hotel in the bushland behind the school. Four students re-used an old wooden Antechinus nesting box as the hotel’s foundations and filled it with lengths of bamboo, various widths of holly stems (previously cut from the site) with holes of various widths drilled into them, tree fern stalks and eucalyptus bark. The hotel was then mounted on a cut stump of dead holly, making further good use of the weeds on site.
Leura Public School Bee Hotel. photo by Stephanie Chew
Pollinator week participants were surprised to learn that not only do native bees exist, but we have so many species (over 1500) in Australia. Like most people, the only bee species they were previously aware of was the European Honeybee and while honey is most appreciated, the role played by other pollinators is critical to a well-functioning ecosystem and crop production.
Another very successful Bushcare Groups’ Gully Get-together was held on November 6 this year. Friends of Katoomba Falls Creek Valley Bushcare Group was joined by Upper Kedumba Bushcare Group; Garguree Swampcare Group and Prince Henry Cliff Walk Bushcare Group who all came together to help with a severe infestation of Ligustrumsinense (Small-leaf Privet).
The Privet patch before work
After the Privet Loppers were done!
The Get-together is intended to acknowledge and inspire the volunteers for their sustained efforts and highlight the importance of the Bushcare efforts in the catchment. Over 55 people participated (including staff and presenters) contributing a total of 165 hours weed control over an area of approximately 100m2. Many of those attending are new to Bushcare and the day offered a chance to learn new skills while making a valuable contribution to protecting the natural environment of The Gully.
The morning offered an opportunity for the Bushcare groups who regularly work in the Upper Kedumba Creek Catchment to come together to support each other, learn about the Aboriginal Cultural significance of The Gully and to connect with the community involved in caring for it.
Aunty Sharyn Halls welcomed us before we split into groups each aiming to complete a specific task – there were Privet loppers, Montbretia diggers, mobile hand weeders and tea dwellers.
After a solid work session, we reconvened for lunch and to hear talks from:
David King—Aboriginal Cultural significance of The Gully;
Ian Baird – Bushcare contributions over the past 25 years;
Ian Brown – Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii (Dwarf Mountain Pine) Saving Our Species surveys;
Eric Mahony – BMCC bush regeneration work plans;
Michael Alexander (Prince Henry Cliff Walk Bushcare); Phil Nelson & David Rae (Upper Kedumba) presented snapshot highlights of their groups’ activities.
At the end of the morning, those present left with an increased understanding of the threatened plant species Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii on Katoomba Falls, the importance of looking after The Gully. Hopefully everyone is motivated to continue our Bushcare efforts throughout the catchment to protect the quality of the water flowing over the falls and into the Kedumba River. Thanks to everyone, and for the generous support of the Blue Mountains Food Co-op, Sandy Holmes and the NSW OEH Saving Our Species program for supporting the day.
The Cumberland Plain Landcare (and Bushcare) Support Program is kicking off early this year with monthly events designed to bring in volunteers, informal training and a small amount of emergency funding to help western Sydney Landcare and Bushcare groups in need.
The Program is kicking off on the Cumberland Land Conservancy’s “Wallaroo”, on Saturday Feb 11th in Mulgoa. Volunteers will be camping out on this beautiful property with dinner, bush poetry and star gazing. An informal talk about the fauna of western Sydney is also planned for the Wallaroo event.
Other events across western Sydney will be equally entertaining and at unique Cumberland Plain Woodland sites, or other threatened Ecological Communities, including rivers, wetlands and rainforests.
All events will have informal talks about aspects of western Sydney’s bushland and will be catered for.
Volunteers from outside of western Sydney are encouraged to come along and help out. Bush regeneration experience would be great, but not essential as training will be provided. More info? Contact…
Xuela Sledge, Local Landcare Coordinator, Greater Sydney Landcare Network
E: [email protected]
Ph: 4724 2146
Arion ater, the European Black Slug. Photo by Peter Ardill
A single sample of this invasive European slug was recently found at the South Lawson Park Bushcare site, and the suspected identity was confirmed by Michael Shea at the Australian Museum. Unfortunately, it would seem that this slug is widespread in some, but not all parts of the upper Blue Mountains (and at selected sites in Victoria and SA) and may be spreading into the middle mountains area.
The adult form of this slug is deep black, with some minor individual variations (white, dark brown). It has no shell, and numerous tubercles, similar to raised mini spines, are clearly visible on its back. The slug is 10-15 cms long. According to the Australian Museum, there are no confusing native species. The black colour makes it quite distinctive. They have no known natural predators in Australia.
Collection and disposal by bushcare volunteers may be effective in slowing and perhaps stopping their spread into unaffected areas, and doing this can slow down their overall acclimatisation process. The impact of this slug on native fauna is unknown, so limiting their numbers and spread may minimise any adverse impacts whilst research into this aspect of the problem is being conducted and can be applied.
The mucus of this slug is particularly thick and unpleasant so the use of gloves is recommended. Please try to dispatch them in a humane manner, such as in a lidded container with a small amount of beer, or by freezing. Snail bait placed in the open can harm native wildlife.
Peter Ridgeway at Greater Sydney Local Land Services is aware of their presence in the Blue Mountains and hopes to engage in an education program with local nurseries. Museum Victoria at https://www.museumvictoria.com.au can also help with further information.
Thanks for considering this issue. Peter Ardill, South Lawson Park Bushcare.
Arion ater: the European Black Slug found at South Lawson Park. Photo by Peter Ardill
This year BMCC sponsored 2 one-day workshops for Bushcare. Bushcare Boosters is a three-part course which was designed by the Sydney Metro CMA, Volunteers Co-ordinators Network in conjunction with the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators and several local councils.
We’re aiming to ensure that our community conservation program volunteers are up to date with the current best practices in Bushcare and the opportunity to develop the highest standards possible—the ones we are used to!
To that end, we decided to hire an expert trainer, Geoff Bakewell, who is very experienced in Bushcare and is certified to teach the Bushcare Boosters program, a combination of classroom and field based learning. Geoff has worked as a Bushcare Officer and has delivered Bushcare Boosters to Bushcare volunteers for both local and state government.
So far, we have covered two of the three modules. Module 1, “Bushcare and the Big Picture” looked at the history of Bushcare, the values, problems, plants and animals present on Bushcare sites and the development of site strategies. It was held at South Lawson Park, a good example of a site with many values and complex issues to keep its Bushcare volunteers busy.
Module 2, “The Birds and the Bees of Bushcare” was at another long-term Bushcare site: Jackson Park, Faulconbridge. We spent half a day discussing habitat— how to assess it, find evidence of fauna occupying it, how to look after it.
The third module will cover weed control technique and safe work practices. It is yet to be scheduled, but we will run it as soon as we can—so stay tuned for more information or contact Monica at the Bushcare Office on 4780 5528 or [email protected]
A misty and cold Saturday morning was brightened and warmed by local families at Popes Glen in Blackheath recently. It was an informal idea amongst friends about getting together to spend some time, while getting their kids together and giving them something great to do. Then everyone has a nice bit of morning tea and a chat while the kids run off some more of that energy!
Little people making a Big difference!
And what better thing to do in the outdoors than pop down and meet a local Bushcare group?
Well, that is just what a group of friends in Blackheath did. A wonderful little army of youngsters and their equally wonderful families came down to help the Popes Glen volunteers plant out their third Small Bird Habitats.
These habitats are small, strategically placed areas which are then densely re-vegetated with a mixture of native shrubs and ground cover plants. As they grow and develop these plants will form very dense thickets, perfect for providing shelter, protection and food for many species of small native birds which are known to live in Popes Glen.
Surveys have shown us that these small birds are using several large piles of timber debris left on the site after the treatment and felling of several large Willow trees. This fantastic fact demonstrates the ability of a recovering Bushcare site to provide new habitat and resources for native creatures, where in the past those creatures have only seen their habitat diminish.
With the news that the small birds are moving in to Popes Glen for the new habitat came a potential problem. While these debris piles provide the perfect opportunity for small birds to move in, they are not going to last forever. The wood is steadily breaking down into humus. Not so good for birds, but perfect for plants.
And there was the answer to the problem. The Popes Glen volunteers decided to take advantage of the rich soil by planting shrubs which will grow to replace the structure of the piles as they break down. Then the birds which are depending on their pile of logs for their home can watch their new home grow around them, before their old houses fall down!
What a nice way to spend a misty Spring morning!
By morning tea time, Popes Glen had one hundred and forty new plants. They were all guarded, watered and ready to grow into a palace for small birds! There was a wonderful atmosphere of smiling and fun. Everybody had a contribution no matter how big or small! What a wonderful day at Bushcare!
Calling all bushcarers – very important news. The Noxious Weeds Act is changing! The new Bioescurity Act 2015 is scheduled to come into force by next June. The Regulations will provide the detail of how the new act will work on the ground. This will determine what powers local authorities have to control weeds. The Regulations are now open for submissions until 29 January 2017.
Alan Lane explains the native regeneration at Popes Glen to BMCC Councillors
Alan Lane of Popes Glen Bushcare is pleased to tell you that the report on the long-term wetlands remediation project at Popes Glen, Blackheath is now available on the Popes Glen Bushcare Group’s web site.