Blue Mountains Skink Surveys

Sarsha Gorissen is seeking volunteers for a conservation project in the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau for her PhD project: Conserving the endangered fauna of highland swamps.

Little is known about the flora and fauna in the endangered ecological community of highland peat swamps. We hope to improve management of these ecosystems by researching in particular the threatened reptiles and amphibians of these swamps, with a focus on an endangered lizard species.

Fieldwork Surveys — biotic and abiotic

  • measuring and identifying reptiles, amphibians and small mammals
  • capture/recapture trapping using pitfall and funnel traps
  • temperature logging
  • data entry
  • equipment maintenance
  • vegetation surveys
  • fire ecology experiments
  • driving

Location

Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau

Volunteers

Committed, capable and hard-working; interested in fieldwork; can travel to the Blue Mountains; preferably have a BSc

Times

Seeking now volunteers for the Summer season.

Work is on weekdays, seldom weekends; between 2 and 8 hours/day; ideally, 3 days/week, usually Tues–Thurs afternoons and evenings, but days are weather dependent.

The fieldwork season is normally all “summer”, that is, spring (Sept-Nov), summer (Dec-Feb) and autumn (Mar-May). Work will continue in the summer of 2014/15. Any time you can commit is appreciated.

Please contact [email protected]

Sarsha Gorissen is a PhD Candidate at the School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney.

Noxious Weeds in the Blue Mountains

Below is a list of recent changes to the noxious weeds list in the Blue Mountains. African Olive, Montbretia and Mothers of Millions have been added to the list, and the levels of other weeds have changed.

Common nameScientific nameControl
African BoxthornLycium ferocissimumA Weed of National Significance (WONS)
Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) Noxious Weed Class 3
African OliveOlea europaea ssp.cuspidata BMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
Alligator WeedAlternanthera philoxeroidesBMCC Noxious Weed Class 2
Arundo – Giant Reed/Elephant GrassArundo donaxBMCC Noxious Weed Class 4
Asparagus FernAsparagus aethiopicusBMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
BambooPhyllostachys spp.BMCC Noxious Weed Class 4
Blackberry
 
Rubus fruticosus spp. agg.WoNS
BMCC Noxious Weed Class 4.
Boneseed
 
Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. moniliferaWoNS
BMCC Noxious Weed Class 1.
Bridal CreeperAsparagus asparagoidesWoNS
BMCC Noxious Weed Class 3.
Camphor LaurelCinnamomum camphoraBMCC Noxious Weed Class 4
Cape Broom
 
Genista monspessulanaBMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
Cat’s Claw CreeperDolichandra unguis-cati syn.Macfadyena unguis-catiWoNS
BMCC Noxious Weed Class 2
Coolatai GrassHyparrhenia hirtaBMCCNoxious Weed Class 3
Crofton WeedAgeratina adenophoraBMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
FireweedSenecio madagascariensisBMCC Noxious Weed Class 4.
Flax-leaf BroomGenista linifoliaWoNS
BMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
Honey Locust TreeGleditsia triacanthosBMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
GorseUlex europaeusWoNS
BMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
Green CestrumCestrum parquiBMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
Grey Sallow (Pussy Willow)
 
Salix spp.WoNS
BMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
HawkweedHeiracium mororumWoNS
BMCC Noxious Weed Class 1. All of NSW.
HorsetailEquisetum arvenseBMCC Noxious Weed Class 1. All of NSW.
LantanaLantana spp.WoNS
BMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
Large leaf PrivetLigustrum lucidumBMCC Noxious Weed Class 4
Long-leaf willow primroseLudwigia longifoliaBMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
MontbretiaCrocosmia x crocosmiifloraBMCC Noxious Weed Class 4
Mother of MillionsBryophyllum delagoenseBMCC Noxious Weed Class 4
Pampas GrassCortaderia spp.BMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
Paterson’s CurseEchium spp.BMCC Noxious Weed Class 4
Prickly PearOpuntia spp.WoNS
Noxious Weed Class 4 all of NSW
Rhus TreeToxicodendron succedaneumBMCC Noxious Weed Class 4. All of NSW.
Scotch/English BroomCytisus scopariusBMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
Serrated TussockNassella trichotomaWoNS
BMCC Noxious Weed Class 3
Small leaf PrivetLigustrum sinenseBMCC Noxious Weed Class 4
St John’s WortHypericum perforatumBMCC Noxious Weed Class 4.
TutsanHypericum androsaemum and Hypericum kouytchense(syn.H. x moserianumBMCC Noxious Weed Class 3.

Class 1: The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant.

Class 2: The plant must be eradicated from the land and the land must be kept free of the plant

Class 3: The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed

Class 4: The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that continously inhibits the ability of the plant to spread and the plant must not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed.

For more information see:

http://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/sustainableliving/weedmanagement/usefullinks

http://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/sustainableliving/weedmanagement

 

On the Web

Weed Futures website is a decision-support tool that provides users with the ability to interrogate individual profiles for over 500 non-native naturalised and invasive plant species within Australia and assess weed threats for regions of interest under current and predicted future climates. The integration of modelling, spatial analysis and species’ trait information provides a comprehensive assessment and information source for these plant species under both current and future climates.

http://www.weedfutures.net

News from www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au You can now manage your own subscriptions to this newsletter via the front page of the Bushcare Blue Mountains website. The form pictured is from the right hand column of the website. You just fill in your details and pick the type of correspondence you wish to receive.

The Bulletin is a monthly email that comes out that contains events and a few bits of information that does not fit in the Gecko newsletter. Gecko live is this newsletter in an online format that you click on the links to articles that you want to read with a PDF format of the paper copy of the Gecko. Bushcare Events is for those who want to participate in swampcare and remotes and keep up to date with new event based opportunities.

At the bottom of each of the emails that you receive if you would like to unsubscribe just click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the page.

Options for your group

For those interested you can add content to the bushcare website. There are two options that you can use depending on what type of information you would like the public to see.

  1. The group page that is static and has information about the group and where you work. An example of this can be found here: http://popesglen.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/
  2. You can have a post (which is like a news stream) that you can use your phone or computer to upload pictures or text about your workday as you are out on site. An example of this can be found here: http://explorersreserve.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/

If you would like to discuss your options you can call the bushcare office and talk to Erin 4780 5320 or discuss at your next workday.

 

Nursery Program News

Tis the season to not sell Holly!  Thank you to the volunteers who were concerned that Holly was being sold at Big W Katoomba and alerted us. The Bushcare Nursery Education Program Officer Jill Rattray identified it as a holly cultivar Ilex Cornuta Rotunda and discussed it with Big W staff. Bouquets to Lara for promptly removing it from the shelves. It is a dwarf cultivar and is unlikely to be fertile but there was concerned about the perception that Big W would be selling weeds.

 

2 minutes with… Rennae Loydell

Rennae has been volunteering at Bee Farm Road since 2004.

  1. What brought you to bushcare? Renae

    I live in a beautiful area of Springwood which has a stunning view of Sassafras Gully Reserve. A neighbour suggested we look into how we can better care for our ‘bigger backyard’ and so our group was formed. I enjoy gardening, so this was a great way of learning more about the native plants in our area.

  2. What are the challenges?

    Trying to get enough done each month to make a visible difference. Bushcare we all know is a slow process. However when I look back over the past 10 years, I see the progress we have made.

  3. Favourite and disliked plants?

    From a distance the bush looks green until you get closer and see the acacia wattle flowering in all its glory with beautiful yellow and cream flowers. The joy of having different varieties flower all year round is amazing. Now about a weed I don’t like. Asparagus fern is deceptively nice to look at, but has bad motives. Some of my bushcare days can be spent solely just digging it out. It’s definitely a weed that needs constant monitoring to stop its cycle. Unfortunately the birds don’t help us with their love of the berry, but this gives you motive to keep removing it from our bush.

  4. If you could invite four of the people who inspire you to dinner, who would you pick?

    I can’t go past my own family and it would have to be a table set for 12. They all inspire me in different ways. I value their company and what they say, so much more than anyone else.

By Rennae Loydell

Holly Trial Results AUG 2014

In January 2013 the RSPCA Landcare Group presented preliminary findings in Gecko on their Holly experiment. Now 3 years after treatment (nearer 2.5 – 4 years), the results are slightly different.

A major conclusion is that you cannot be sure of the effectiveness of your treatments on Holly for at least two to four years later. So the follow up work is more time-effective if left for at least 2 years after the initial treatment.

Most bush regenerators consider Holly to be one of those weeds where the results of treatment are often inconsistent. Some of the reasons for this is believed to be: the time of year, the technique used and/or plant size. The RSPCA       Landcare group started to test these theories in late 2010 by setting up 5 plots to be treated over a 15 month period –treating the holly in the four seasons.  In total 275 plants were treated covering a range of plant sizes.

In July 2014 some plants were totally covered by fallen trees after the huge windstorm of July 2011. Other plants and their markers could not be found probably because both plant and marker had rotted away. So 161 plants were found and assessed. The trial found that a 100% kill rate could be achieved at any time of year as long as the chosen technique was done correctly.

The overall effectiveness of the trial was 92.5% – only 12 plants had any sign of life out of 161. The herbicide used throughout was undiluted Glyphosate. The 3 techniques used were – cut and paint, scrape and paint, and drill/fill. Approximately 50 plants were treated with each technique, covering all seasons. The results are too small to be conclusive however the indicators are that:

For plants under 10 mm diameter at the base – both cut & paint or scrape & paint works

Between 10 mm and 40 mm – the scrape & paint technique works best

For plants over 40 mm – drilling works the best

 

DISCUSSION OF RESULTS

Cut and paint   (C&P)

Of the 53 plants treated by C&P, there was a 13% failure rate (7 Plants). One failure was due to poor technique (the cut was too high – 80 mm above ground level) resulting in 4 shoots sprouting below the cut.

Most of the failures were plants between 10 and 40 mm diameter at the base.

The highest failure rate occurred using the cut & paint technique, even using the larger sample size of plants monitored previously (Sept 2012). However it is worth noting that there was a 10 out of 10 success rate for C&P plants 40-54 mm.

Scrape and paint (S&P)

Out of the 55 plants treated by S&P, 4 were not effectively killed (7% failure or 5% compared with larger monitoring sample).

3 of the unsuccessful treatments were on multi-stemmed plants where not all stems had been scraped; the other was where the plant was larger than 40mm diameter.

Drill & inject

Of the 53 plants treated by drilling and injecting neat herbicide, only 1 was not effective (1.9% failures).  This was a multiple stemmed plant with many suckers, which appeared to have not all been scrapped.

The technique used was to drill holes at about 40 mm spacing in a ring around the base.  Only 5 plants treated by drilling had a base diameter less than 40 mm, so it is difficult to come to any conclusions as to the effectiveness of drilling smaller plants.  However it is possible to use a smaller size drill bit.

CONCLUSION

The sample size is too small for the results to be conclusive on the best technique to use for each size plant in each season.

This pilot study does indicate that:

  1. Holly can be treated effectively in all seasons.
  2. Both the cut and paint and the scrape and paint techniques are effective for plants less than 10mm diameter.
  3. The Cut and Paint technique only works if cuts are no higher than ground level
  4. Scrape and Paint is the most effective technique for plants between 10 and 40mm diameter at ground level.
  5. Plants larger than 40mm are best drilled and injected.
  6. Plants with multiple stems or suckers can be treated effectively by a combination of drill& inject and scrape and paint techniques, as long as all stems/suckers are treated.

 

Summary of   Sample Size and Results
TECHNIQUE Size of Holly Stem in mm
0-9 mm 10-24 mm 25-39    mm 40-54 mm 55-69 mm > 70 mm July 2014 total total @Sept 2012
CUT & PAINT           sample 7 18 13 10 3 2 53 91
number alive 0 4 2 0 1 0 7
% failure 0 22% 15% 0 33% 0 13% 8%
SCRAPE & PAINT   sample 14 25 8 6 1 1 55 75
number alive 0 2 0 1 1 0 4
% failure 0 8% 0 17% 100% 0 7% 5%
DRILL                        sample 0 0 5 17 10 21 53 63
number alive 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
% failure 0 0 0 0 0 4.80% 1.90% 1.60%
TOTAL SAMPLE 21 43 26 33 14 24 161 230
number alive 0 6 2 1 2 1 12
% failure 0 13.90% 7.70% 3% 14.30% 4.20% 7.50% 5.20%

By Lyndal Sullivan

The Conservation Volunteers

This London based group has very simular aspects to Bushcare, but the name and tasks associated with it are area specific. The two pieces of   interest are their deadwood hedges and their insect hotels.

Lesley volunteers for half the year with Mt Victoria Bushcare Group and the other half with a local group in Camden, Nth London that meets twice a week to care for a range of open spaces from woodlands to meadows, all in a large capital city. TCV is open to all who want to volunteer. A work session could see people building deadwood hedges, clearing weeds, building insect hotels, doing path maintenance and planting wild flower seeds. “It provides a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors and connect with nature”.

TCV have been active since 1959 and more information about the history can be found here: http://www.tcv.org.uk/greengym/how-green-gym-works

Insect hotel

insect hotelThis insect hotel is in a small green space just down the road from Lesley, which the group cares for. This is an insect hotel (left) which is designed to provide a habitat for solitary bees and bumblebees, leaf cutters and the like.

Hedges

HedgeThe deadwood hedge is habitat for insects and small birds.

How to Compost Corms

If you are digging up lots of Montbretia or Watsonia corms, please don’t throw them in the bin or the compost. You could smash them up with a hammer or try this drying/baking method!   Corms need to be dried out or ‘baked’ to kill them. Once dried, they can be used as fire starters or will break down to almost nothing to put on the garden.

Keep them out of the regular compost as best you can, because the wet and warm compost provides perfect growing conditions.   If some get caught up and start growing in your compost it is easy enough just to pull them out and put them in your drying/baking system.

How to set up your passive solar baking system:

    • Get a black plastic compost bin from council or hardware.
    • Locate the bin in a place that gets good northern sun all year round.
    • Sit it up off the ground, on a stand covered in mesh to allow the air to flow – eg steel mesh covered in metal fly screen, or something else that will stop the corms falling through, and still allow air to circulate.
    • Put your corms in the bin and they will break down to a dry ash like material.

compost bin

For best results, to avoid any regrowth, before putting corms in the bin –

  • knock off all soil
  • let corms dry off if wet
  • take off any green leaves

 

 

By Lyndal Sullivan

 

 

 

Habitat on Your Sites

I was lucky enough to attend Peter Ridgeway’s “Restoring Native Wildlife” course way back in September. Peter is a Senior Land Services Officer (Biodiversity) at Greater Sydney Local Land Services. We visited several Cumberland Plains sites to look at ways of finding, managing and monitoring resident fauna and managing Bushcare activities to protect and benefit wildlife. It’s so easy to get caught up with the problem of weeds and their removal and this course reminded me that there’s more to Bushcare than weeding. Peter emphasises the importance of the soil, the micro-organisms and the macro-invertebrates that can so often be overlooked as we focus on getting rid of the big, “in-your-face” weeds.

The take-home message foBirds nestr me? A sustainable Bushcare site starts from the ground up. Bushland rich in floral and faunal biodiversity needs coarse woody debris. It is critical habitat for those little critters and the more well-known and loved fauna rely on them. So, for example, branches that fall to the ground after a windstorm need to stay preferably where they fall. If they need to be moved, at least leave some debris, on site. Leave some of the woody weed material scattered around.

by Monica Nugent