Our annual Thank You Bushcare picnic is on Saturday 29 April 2017 at
Megalong Valley Community Hall – Save the Date!
This year we are combining the usual lunch-time bar-b-q picnic with a camp-out on Friday 28th April, a night-time fauna survey and early morning birdwatching so – stay posted for more information coming soon!
Lunch will be at noon with our annual awards presentations at 2:00pm.
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 last 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. Motivation is high and we’re all invigorated 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.
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
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.
One of the traditions of the Annual Bushcare Picnic is the sounds of bush music drifting through the camp site. The music at the picnic is provided by the Blue Mountains Bushcare Trad Band. The band comprises of bushcare volunteers and bushcare officers who join together for a once a year bushcare picnic gig!
Playing music together is a great way for volunteers from different groups to connect and the band welcomes any bushcarer interested in joining in. The band has an inclusive philosophy and can cater for players of diverse abilities and musical backgrounds.
The Band is named after the introduced weed, Tradescantia fluminensis, commonly known as ‘Trad’. Trad is an invasive weed, which many bushcare volunteers are very familiar with, but it is also the shortened form for ‘Traditional’ music. Traditional music forms the basis of the musical style played by the Trad Band.
Players interested in the Trad Band should be competent with their instrument. Their instrument will also need to be acoustic for safety and logistical reasons. Sheet music can be provided for both concert pitch and transposing instruments. Chord charts and sound files can be provided to those players who prefer to play by ear.
The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday February 1 at the Mountains Community Resource Network meeting room, Lawson Library building, Lawson. All welcome, especially the co-ordinators of each Bushcare group. The main item on the agenda is the purpose and future direction of the Network. Please come and contribute to the development of your Bushcare Program!