Category Archives: Flora

Blue Mountains Bushcare Network Bioblitz and Conference

The Blue Mountains Bushcare Network proudly to presented their third Bushcare Network Conference on Saturday July 29. This year theme is Citizen Science so a Bioblitz seemed appropriate! The day focused on our beautiful and unique lower mountains vegetation communities. We were fortunate to be able to spend the day with experts to learn how to be “ears and eyes” on the ground. The data we collected will go into data bases for a wider audience.

Concurrent sessions occupied the morning. They included field-based citizen science activities at various locations around Springwood and two presentations at the Hub:

  • Hollows as Homes – Adrian Davis  University of Sydney
  • Bushcare website update/setup – Hugh Todd
  • Aquatic Wildlife – Jenny Hill & Fitzgeralds Creek Streamwatch Group Rosenthal Lane, Sun Valley
  • Birds of the Deanei – Carol Probets & Graham Turner, Deanei Forest Reserve, Springwood
  • Monitoring the Fauna of Fitzgeralds Creek Catchment – Peter & Judy Smith, Valley Heights Creek, Sun Valley
  • Plants of Fairy Dell Reserve, Springwood Susan Jalaluddin & Helen Yoxall

The birds group, led by Carol Probets and Graham Turner, observing Bell Miners in the Deanei Forest Reserve, Springwood.

We all reconvened at the Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub in Springwood for lunch, informative and inspiring presentations from Margaret Baker and Jenny Hill, and hands on workshops including what to do with the data we collect.

The Hub presentations included:

Birds of Endangered Forests of the Lower Blue Mountains – Margaret Baker 

Margaret’s talk introduced the endangered eucalypt forests (Threatened Ecological Communities) that are found on clay soils of the Lower Blue Mountains from Springwood to Hawkesbury Heights and to Lapstone. She described each of the communities, identified the main trees and talked about some of the rare plants, but the focus was the diversity of birds to be found in each of the forest types, especially birds that are listed under NSW legislation as Threatened.

Citizen Science in Action –  what to do with your data” – Jenny Hill

Citizen science has emerged as a distinct field over the last 20 years and is now enjoying a boom. What are some successes? What are the factors critical to its success and what role does Bushcare, Landcare and Swampcare play in this success? How could citizen science grow to be part of the bigger story about restoration and protection in the Blue Mountains? This is brief overview of citizen science is an introduction to group presentations.

In her community volunteer role Jenny Hill is Coordinator with the Leura Falls Creek catchment working group, Bushcarer and Streamwatcher. Jenny has been involved in environmental education and learning for over 35 years and is currently Environmental Educator for Blue Mountains City Council. In this role she conducts citizen science and connects with nature programs across the mountains with schools and community groups. Jenny’s on-ground experience enriched her presentation and provided the bigger picture of citizen science in many different contexts.

Introduction to Biodiversity Atlases on the Internet – Margaret Baker 

This talk provided an introduction to the biodiversity atlases that are available on the Internet. It focused on the Atlas of Living Australia – where to find it, how to use it to determine biodiversity in a selected area and how to record data as an individual or as a Citizen Science group. It showed how the kind of data collected in the field sessions of today’s conference can be readily entered into the global exchange of biodiversity information. The world-wide and unrestricted access to such information can however be problematic and so some issues related to atlas and database use was also be discussed.

 

2 minutes with … Beth Winsor

Beth Winsor at home with her Gymea lily

Active volunteer with Links view Landcare and Bush Place Bushcare, Beth has been involved in Bushcare for 2 years starting initially with Links view Landcare then joining Bush place Bushcare group at its inception. Beth spends the second Saturday of the month out in the field with these 2 groups and whilst studying Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management online Beth has found these Bushcare days a valuable source of knowledge, inspiration and bush comradery.

Garnering different perspectives visions and practical experience enables a broad base for Beth’s studies. She has also been involved with the Bushcare Boosters program and grass seed collecting and sorting workshops. She has a passion for botany and seems to find an interesting plant every work day which she will enthusiastically share with the groups.

Once her children are all in school Beth will find work in the conservation and land management field, so she can feel fulfilled in her work and give back to the community she calls home.

 

Jamison Creek Catchment: Caring for Dwarf Mountain Pine

Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii Katoomba Falls photo courtesy Ian Brown

Protecting the Wentworth Falls population of the endangered Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii  from the very invasive Montbretia was the name of the game for our Jamison Creek Catchment Care Day this year. It was well received by some keen Bushcare volunteers, BMCC Bushland Operations Team (Bushcare Officers and Bush Regeneration Officers) and the NPWS Ranger for the Jamison Valley.

Having 2 extra Bush Regeneration team members involved for the first time meant we could divide into smaller groups and cover more of the creekline as well as share information about the management of the whole area while we worked.

One group met at Wentworth Falls Car Park, walked to the top of Wentworth Falls and then worked upstream (wading where necessary) to follow up woody weeds in the area worked last year.

The other groups met at the corner of Jamison and Fletcher streets, kitted up and after a short walk down to the creek, with some walking further down the Charles Darwin Track, started target ting Montbretia around the pools and cascades and all woody weeds and the along the track and creek banks. All three groups re-united for lunch and informative talks on the creek bank.

Montbretia is slow going so although the distance covered wasn’t huge, we removed lots of corms and enjoyed the beautiful weather and surroundings while we worked. There was lots of opportunity to discuss the creek condition, learn about the endangered Dwarf Mountain Pine (Pherosphaera fistzgeraldii).

Montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora) corms

Montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora) flowers

Another target weed in this catchment is Erica lusitanica (Spanish or Portugese heath, often referred to simply as “Erica”, a woody shrub which has a similar appearance to native tea trees so is often mistaken for a native. Both Montbretia and Erica have the potential to establish in the rocky crevices on the cliffline adjacent to the waterfalls – taking up the space where Dwarf Mountain Pine grows. Annual Catchment Care Days are a valuable contribution to the ongoing work of Council’s Bushland Operations Team, contractors and the volunteer Bushcare Groups. Charles Darwin, Jamieson St Landcare, Wentworth Falls Lake, Water Nymphs Dell and Valley of the Waters groups were all represented this year and together we not only dealt with Montbretia and Erica but as Tutsan, Japanese honeysuckle and Small-leaf Privet as well.

Jenny Hill from Council’s Healthy Waterways Team delivered a very informative talk about the issues affecting the water quality of the catchment and the work underway to improve stormwater management.

Good food, good company and good work resulted in a very enjoyable and productive morning – made possible through funding from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage “Saving Our Species” program. A huge thank you to SoS and the dedicated volunteers of Wentworth Falls!

 

Invitation to participate in the recording the recent ecological change

This research may be of interest to Bushcare Groups that have worked their patch for over 10 years.

See details below on how to participate: The Department of the Environment and Energy, together with the CSIRO are undertaking an investigation to understand how Australia’s biodiversity has been changing in recent years. As a part of this investigation we are seeking to understand how the 1°C increase in surface temperature experienced over the past century may have contributed to recent changes in biodiversity across the Australian landscape.

To this end we are very interested in hearing about the experiences and observations of people who are familiar with different parts of Australia. We hope that their insights and stories will provide us with a unique view of how things are changing. To participate, you would need to be able to select a natural area (e.g. your local region or farm, a Nature Reserve, urban bushland) that you have been familiar with for at least the last 10 years. Note that we are interested both in areas where change has been observed and where change has not been observed. The survey can be found here<https://csirolandandwater.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_dcjRc0gqVUMKeiN> and is made up of a series of observational questions and an open section for people to tell us their stories. It would take about 30 minutes. Additional information about the project can be found here<https://research.csiro.au/biodiversity-knowledge/projects/recent-history-climate-driven-ecological-change-australia/>”.

For more information contact: Natasha Porter Social Scientist | Adaptive Urban & Social Systems Land & Water CSIRO E natasha.porter@csiro.au<mailto:natasha.porter@csiro.au

WE’RE CELEBRATING 10 YEARS OF BLUE MOUNTAINS SWAMPCARE!

North Hazelbrook Swamp July 2009 photo Lyndal Sullivan

Swampcare is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year!  From the first on ground workday at Kittyhawke Swamp in North Wentworth Falls in March 2007 Swampcare has grown into an annual program of events in the Blue Mountains run by Council’s Bushcare. Swampcare provides opportunities for volunteers to learn about swamps and the special requirements of undertaking bush regeneration in these sensitive places as well as making hands on contributions to protecting them.

Many workshops have been held over the years to add to the knowledge of volunteers covering swamp ecology, vegetation, threatened species and  techniques to rehydrate swamps. A Swamp Symposium will be held on Wednesday 21st June  to celebrate and continue developing community knowledge, thanks to people such as Dr  Ian Baird, who has very generously given his time and shared his knowledge by regularly presenting workshops.

Over the 10 years more than 2000 volunteer hours have been contributed in on site works.  Many thanks must also go to Hominy Bakery in Katoomba who have been donating delicious lunches and morning teas for volunteers at every event since 2007. A much appreciated incentive to keep coming back!

March 2007 Kittyhawke volunteers at the first Swampcare event learning the ropes. Photo by Michael Hensen

Sites currently worked by volunteers in the Swampcare events program are:

  • Rocklea St Swamp, North Hazelbrook;
  • West Kitty Hawke Swamp, Wentworth Falls;
  • Clydebank Swamp North Leura;
  • Valley View Swamp, Blackheath.

In addition to the Swampcare events program, there are 15 other Bushcare or Landcare groups which also work in swamps and/or their buffers at some stage during each year.

There are 2253 hectares of swamp mapped in the Blue Mountains with 929 of those outside the National Park.  Swamps within the urban area are recognised as being the most vulnerable to degradation,  a concern which is being addressed by this program.

According to recent recorded history, scientific and management interest began in swamps in 1974 with the PhD by WN Holland entitled ‘Origin and Development of Hanging Valleys in the Blue Mountains, NSW’; which showed the significance of the geomorphology on formation and maintenance of hanging swamps.

In 1988, ecologists DA Keith & D H Benson described and mapped ‘Blue Mountains Sedge Swamps’ and other upland swamps, as part of a larger study. In 1991 the Blue Mountains City Council recognised swamps as an ‘environmentally sensitive vegetation community’ in  Local Environment Plan 1991 (LEP 91).

After witnessing a number of destructive developments occurring within and around swamps, in 1999 community members, under the banner of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, began working to gain legal protection for swamps.

In September 2007, after 8 years of hard work, Blue Mountains Swamps were listed as a Vulnerable Ecological Community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act (TSC Act). In order to achieve this, 3 other significant achievements were made:

  • The listing of Temperate Highland Peat Swamps on Sandstone as an Endangered Ecological Community under the Commonwealth EPBC Act in 2005 (which included Blue Mountains Swamps), and
  • An amendment to the NSW TSC Act to make provision for Vulnerable Ecological Communities (2002),
  • An increase in community awareness and support for swamps.

For a more detailed history and swamp images see http://bluemountains.org.au/swamps.shtml

Since the listing in 2005, Blue Mountains City Council has obtained over a million dollars in grants from state and federal agencies to protect the swamps. BMCC’s ongoing Save our Swamps program is currently partnered with Central Tablelands Local Land Services to deliver a 10 year $750,000 “Swamped by Threats” grant. This aims to continue protecting the swamps of the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau with a focus on swamps that are known habitat for the endangered Blue Mountains Water Skink and the Giant Dragonfly.

Swampcare is a vital component of the concerted effort by BMCC and the Blue Mountains community to protect its valuable swamp systems. Our swamps continue to need all this community support  – hands on swamp restoration work, watching  and reporting illegal activity, writing submissions on potentially damaging developments, and campaigning to strengthen legal protections and ‘buy back’ swamps.

New members are always welcome to join the Swampcare program, just contact the Bushcare office on 4780 5623!

April 2007: Hard at it in Kittyhawke Swamp, Wentworth Falls. Photo by Michael Hensen

SWAMPCARE FIELD DAY

Swamp School photo by Paul Vale

A Blue Mountains Swamp near the airfield at Medlow Bath — in its flowering glory — attracted an  enthusiastic group of Swampcare volunteers to a field day in January 2017. The field day was part of a 10 year project to protect swamps, called “Swamped By Threats” whose partners include Central West Local Land Services, Blue Mountains City Council and National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The volunteers enjoyed a morning packed with information and good food topped off by a sighting of Blue Mountains Water Skinks – a well deserved reward for all their work during 2016! Unfortunately, the hoped for Giant Dragonfly did not make an appearance … this was not a good year for their emergence.

Two eminent swamp experts were on hand to generously share  their knowledge deepen our understanding of swamp plants and animals and their dependence on groundwater. Doug Benson is a highly respected plant ecologist and Honorary Research Associate with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. He has studied swamps of the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau for more than 40 years, satisfying his curiosity about how and when they developed. Ian Baird drew on more than 13 years of research on the threatened Giant Dragonfly and swamps generally, to share his extensive knowledge of the fauna that dwell in them.

Our current swamps formed up to 15,000 years ago as the land warmed up and became wetter after the last Ice Age.   How the unique swamp plants formed and where they were during these cold and dry periods are particular questions of interest.

Flowering shrubs such as the rare Acacia ptychoclada and Grevillea acanthifolia were admired along with sedges such as Empodisma minus and Xyris ustulata. Two of the shrubs present in swamps, Banksia ericifolia and Hakea teretifolia, are killed by fire because they do not resprout from a lignotuber and do not store seed in the soil. Individual plants can take up to 8-10 years to flower and fruit and even more years are needed between fires to establish a seed bank to ensure the continuation of viable populations of this species in this location.

Plants adapted to sandstone areas only drop seeds close to the parent plant, which is in contrast with northern hemisphere plants where seed moves much greater distances due to reliance on wind dispersal. The presence of Mallee eucalypts in swamps may be understood in terms of opportunities to thrive without the competition of larger trees. Adapted to wetter conditions and fire, some of these Mallees have lignotubers at least 50-100 years old.

Using a 1.8m steel soil probe, Ian demonstrated the significant differences in the depth of soft peaty soil over the swamp and the patches of drier sandy loam. These soil differences are reflected in the plants, and determine where Giant Dragonflies can reproduce.

Ian identified patches suitable as breeding habitat and those which were not, and discussed the importance of damp or saturated peaty soil with a high water table for egg-laying and larval establishment.  It is believed that they then spend at least 6 years in their larval burrow. The deepest larval burrow Ian has found, also the deepest recorded, was 75cm.

A very young Blue Mountains Water Skink, plus two adults were sighted. One adult water skink sat still on top of the grass watching the group for some time. Genetic studies indicate that this species has been in swamps in the Blue Mountains for at least 2 million years, but where were they during the ice ages which have occurred over that time? They are currently solely dependant on peat swamps in the mid-to upper Blue Mountains for their survival.

Blue Mountains Water Skink

Ian gave some insights into the range of less appreciated fauna found in swamps which also need groundwater for survival, from the small invertebrates and skinks which may survive fire under patches of wet litter, to the Common Eastern Froglets, burrowing crayfish and swamp rats. Blue Mountains Water Skinks can sometimes use these burrows, and those of Giant Dragonflies, for protection from fire and predators. Crayfish burrows are found in areas with groundwater seepage or a high water table which they can access in their burrows. Swamp rat tunnels may also be abundant; one of which was inspected (these are more horizontal).

Both Doug and Ian explained how Blue Mountains Swamps are important for holding and filtering water. The conservation of swamps is a key concern of those present and an interesting debate on fire, sedimentation and climate change followed. The predicted hotter, drier conditions and more frequent fires will threaten the swamps’ survival.

This event was organised by Blue Mountains City Council Bushcare and assisted by the New South Wales Government Environmental Trust Fund, NSW Local Land Services and NPWS

Swampcare in Wentworth Falls

Kittyhawke Swamp

Kittyhawke Swamp, North Wentworth Falls. Photo by Peter Ardill

Wednesday  29th March  9am – 3pm     Join the long term efforts of volunteers to free this large swamp system of a huge variety of weeds and restore the habitat of the Giant Dragon Fly and the Blue Mountains Water Skink.  A joint NPWS/ BMCC activity.  Lunch and morning tea donated by the Hominy Bakery. Book with Lyndal on (02) 4780 5623 or lsullivan@bmcc.nsw.gov.au by Tuesday 21st March.

  

Cumberland Plain Landcare Support kicks off!

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: xuela.sledge@greatersydneylandcare.org
Ph: 4724 2146

 

Bushcare Boosters Training for Bushcare & Landcare volunteers

Geoff presents the birds and the bees

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 mnugent@bmcc.nsw.gov.au

Bushcare Boosters in Jackson Park

Bringing Back the Birds in Blackheath

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!

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!

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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!

Where would we be without BUBBLES!

Where would we be without BUBBLES!