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.
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…
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
A yellow-tailed black cockatoo in Sydney’s Centennial Park. Photo: Peter Rae
Is there anyone who doesn’t appreciate the sight of a flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos (YTBC) flying overhead ? It seems that very little is really known about them and you can help to change that and potentially influence planning for their conservation.
Jessica Rooke is an Advanced Science (Biological Sciences) student at the University of New South Wales. She is currently undertaking Honours in Ecology with the Centre for Ecosystem Science, supervised by Professor Richard Kingsford, Dr John Martin and Dr Kate Brandis.
Jessica’s project focuses on the well known Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo. However, not many people know that this iconic species has been largely understudied, and is in significant decline. The project’s objectives are to investigate the species habitat, foraging and breeding ecology, with an overall aim of creating a management plan to help conserve the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo.
If you have any further information, questions or queries, particularly regarding locations of breeding/nesting sites, please contact Jessica: email@example.com
Banksia Park Bushcare volunteers recently observed some Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos boring into Tea trees, apparently to extract wood-boring invertebrates. The group had intentionally planted Hakeas and Banksias to provide a food source for them so we were pleasantly surprised that the Tea trees planted alongside were also providing food for the iconic species! Jessica advises that literature suggests that Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos increase this behaviour during breeding time, and when juveniles are fledging (around June-July, although this is based on limited studies, and is said to change across their range). If your groups has any similar observation, please take the time to record them and upload the data to the easy to use survey. The more we can contribute to these Citizen Science type projects, the more chances we’ll have to help protect the habitat of the species being studied.
A female Petalura gigantea – Giant Dragonfly. Photo by Ian Baird.
Threatened Species Day is a national day held each year on 7 September to commemorate the death of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger at Hobart Zoo in 1936. On this date every year we reflect on what has happened in the past and how we can protect our threatened species in the future. It is also a day to celebrate our success stories and ongoing threatened species recovery work.
With all this in mind Garguree Swampcare Group hosted a threatened species event on Sunday September 4.
30 fantastic volunteers joined in on the day which started with a restoration planting along the riparian corridor which connects the Blue Mountains Water Skink populations of the “McCrae’s Paddock” swamp and the “middle” swamp in The Gully Aboriginal Place, Katoomba.
Male Petalura gigantea Giant Dragonfly. Photo by Ian Baird.
Threatened species biscuits cooked by Sandy Holmes.
At 11am Sandy Holmes greeted us with a most amazing brunch, including giant dragonfly cookies and water skink eclairs (they were definitely threatened species …)
This was followed by Welcome to Country and a smoking ceremony by David King. He also spoke about Garguree Swampcare’s work and the ongoing support from the Environmental Trust and “Protecting our Places” grants.
Council’s Environmental Scientist Michael Hensen spoke about a new 10 year Environmental Trust – Saving our Species grant of $750,000 “Swamped by Threats” which will help protect the Blue Mountains Water Skink and the Giant Dragonfly at a number of priority sites across the Blue Mountains and the Newnes Plateau.
We finished the morning’s formal proceedings with Ian Baird presenting an exciting insight into the biology and identification of two iconic threatened species found in Blue Mountains Swamps: the Giant Dragonfly and the Blue Mountains Water Skink.
After that it was back to more connecting to our place through our stomachs!
Eulamprus leurensis (Blue Mountains Water Skink). Photo by Ian Baird.
Beautiful creeks and waterways are a wonderful part of our City – but how healthy are they?
From July this year, it will be easier to find out, with the release of Council’s Blue Mountains Waterway Health Report – a user-friendly brochure showing the results of Council’s Water Quality Monitoring Program.
Since 1998, Council has regularly tested waterway health at up to 50 waterways across the City. As a result, we now have one of the richest water quality data sets in Australia, and Council uses this data to inform its catchment improvement programs.
Council regularly tests the health of our waterways at over 40 sites across the city. the diversity of waterbugs such as crayfish is an indicator of creek health.
While detailed water quality reports have been published on Council’s website since 2006, the new brochure aims to make this information readily accessible to everyone in the community. It is hoped people will be prompted to think about local waterway health and what they can do to help.
The report card shows each sample waterway in the Blue Mountains, the catchment within which it flows, and its state of ecological health (rated Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor). In the 2016 report, 53% of tested waterways are in good condition or better.
Our city is lucky to have some of Australia’s best waterways, but they are also vulnerable to pollution – especially due to stormwater runoff from urban areas.
Urban runoff is consistently identified as the number one environmental threat to our World Heritage listing and presents challenges for local drinking water catchments, Endangered Ecological Communities, threatened species and the City’s tourism reputation.
Everything that goes into our gutters and streets ends up in our creeks
Try these few simple actions to help protect our waterways from urban runoff:
Keep pollutants out of drains (litter, soil and sand, fertilisers and pesticides, detergents, oil, animal droppings and garden waste).
Install a rainwater tank to capture rainwater from your roof and use it regularly.
Design your garden to allow stormwater to soak into the ground.
Control invasive weeds on your property.
Don’t dump fish or plants in waterways.
The Report Card will be sent to all ratepayers with Council’s newsletter from July.
The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) comprises eight reserves: Blue Mountains, Gardens of Stone, Kanangra-Boyd, Nattai, Thirlmere Lakes, Wollemi and Yengo National Parks and Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve. The area was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2000 because its natural values, including the diversity of its fauna, were considered to be outstanding at international level.
In 1998, when the nomination of the Greater Blue Mountains Area for inscription on the World Heritage List was prepared, it was well known that the area provided habitat for a wide variety of fauna. However, details of the vertebrate fauna were sketchy. Over the last year, in an attempt to gain a clearer understanding of the fauna, we have been preparing annotated checklists of the native frogs, reptiles, birds and mammals in the GBMWHA.
The checklists indicate the species we consider to have been reliably recorded in each of the eight constituent reserves together with their conservation status at national and state level, and details of their distribution, habitat and relative abundance in the WHA. The project has been supported through funding from the Australian Government’s Community Heritage and Icons Grants Programme.
Out of interest, over 60 of the vertebrate fauna species are considered threatened at national and/or state level and at least 422 native species: 66 mammal, 250 bird (including at least 29 honeyeater species), 71 reptile and 35 frog species have been recorded in the area since European settlement, truly an outstanding diversity.
If you would like a copy of the checklists please contact us. Additional records or comments on the checklists would be most welcome. As the fauna is by no means completely known, nor is it static, we are hoping that the checklists will be regularly updated. We can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org