Category Archives: General

Bushcare Recommencing COVID-19 Protocols

Hello Bushcarers,

Bushcare is back and will be recommencing on Saturday, 6th June.

With NSW Government restrictions easing surrounding COVID-19 from June 1, Blue Mountains City Council’s decision to allow Bushcare to recommence will be great news for many of you whom are eager to get back out and re-engage with your Bushcare sites. We are asking you to take some precautions, follow physical distancing rules and limit numbers to 9 volunteers at a time.

Our key consideration as we return is the safety of volunteers and staff, particularly our volunteers that fall within the vulnerable or high-risk categories. We hope you understand the reasons for the COVID 19 safety protocols and adhere to them strictly to keep all of us safe.

We look forward to seeing you all again, being back out in the bush, working on our sites, and hearing what you have been up to during the restrictions that have been put in place during our response to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Meet in groups of 10 (Bushcare Officer and 9 volunteers) – a fair and equitable booking system will be put in place.

Your Bushcare Officer will send an email out so you can book your name for the next group’s workday and should the group numbers reach a maximum of 9 persons then you will be first on the list for next month’s group workday. For larger groups with numbers up to 18, an additional Bushcare Officer may be put on so that the group may be split into two groups.

On your Bushcare day the following safety practices and principles will apply:

  • Toolbox talks to be held with all volunteers to brief on the current BMCC COVID return plan – attendees and meeting times will be documented and signed on behalf of the Bushcare Officer to reduce contact with equipment.
  • Bushcare Officers to provide hand sanitiser/disinfectant/PPE.
  • Regularly use the alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Maintain a minimum physical distance of 1.5 m between volunteers and staff.

Equipment

Herbicide applicators and Council issued tools to be placed on a table with one person at a time coming to collect. Spray /wipe down all equipment before and after use with 70% alcohol sanitiser.

Morning Tea

To reduce the risk of transmission between staff and volunteers then morning/afternoon tea breaks will be managed as follows: – volunteers will bring your own morning tea (food, tea and coffee) and no sharing of food between people of different households.

Maintaining site, WHS, and Volunteer attendance records

  • Bushcare Officers only are responsible to maintain all physical Bushcare Site record books and will handle the book and pen and sign on behalf of volunteers attending.
  • For those groups maintaining their own book, the Volunteer Coordinator shall be responsible to only handle the book and pen and sign on behalf of the volunteers.
  • Record ‘COVID 19 Protocol’ on the signed sheet, to ensure transparency of why volunteers are being signed for.
  • Ensure all attendees names have been recorded – it could help with contact tracing.

Volunteer self-monitoring

If you are not confident of returning to Bushcare next month we will welcome you back at any stage.

  • If you have been overseas, please do not return to Bushcare until 14 days have passed.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.
  • Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider. If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, do not attend and seek medical care early.
  • Follow the directions of your local health authority.
  • Should any person attend a site and present with any symptoms of cold / flu, they will not be permitted to participate in any Bushcare activities until the results of the COVID 19 test can be presented.

National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your are should be doing to protect themselves.

Please note the plan is subject to ongoing NSW Department of Health and Federal Government advice and directives resulting from Public Health Orders and Government Announcements which may seek the reversal of the plan’s action.

Week 5: Advanced Weeds of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Test your weed knowledge with this ‘advanced’ weeds of the Blue Mountains crossword puzzle.

Instructions

CLICK on the link below and follow the instructions to either fill in online or print a hard copy.

Week 5: Advanced Weeds of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

To FILL IN ONLINE

  1. CLICK on the clue listed under Across or Down – and this will highlight the corresponding boxes (purple) to fill in on the crossword.
  2. To TYPE in the answer CLICK on the purple highlighted box in the crossword and start typing your answer (a correct answer turns the boxes green). If your answer was incorrect then use the backspace to delete then try again for this answer only!!
  3. To RESET ANSWERS (all answers) scroll down the screen‚  below the crossword and CLICK Reset Answer (red button)

To PRINT a Hardcopy scroll down the screen below the crossword and CLICK Print My Puzzle (purple button)

Answers to the questions are: Week 4 – Native Animals of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Across 2. Bandicoot 4. Turtle 8. Skink 10. Frog 12. Wallaby 14. Dingo 15. Dragon  Down 1. Koala 2. Bat 3. Quoll 5. Echidna 6. Crayfish 7. Platypus 9. Snake 11. Glider 12. Wombat 13. Lizard

Answers to the questions are: Week 5 – Advanced Weeds of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Week 4: Native Animals of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Find Animals Of The Blue Mountains crossword puzzle (for kids). Most of the animals can be found in Blue Mountains Animals by Margaret Baker and Robin Corringham.

Instructions

CLICK on the link below and follow the instructions to either fill in online or print a hard copy.

Week 4: Native animals of the Blue Mountains crossword puzzle (for kids)

To FILL IN ONLINE

  1. CLICK on the clue listed under Across or Down – and this will highlight the corresponding boxes (purple) to fill in on the crossword.
  2. To TYPE in the answer CLICK on the purple highlighted box in the crossword and start typing your answer (a correct answer turns the boxes green). If your answer was incorrect then use the backspace to delete then try again for this answer only!!
  3. To RESET ANSWERS (all answers) scroll down the screen‚  below the crossword and CLICK Reset Answer (red button)

To PRINT a Hardcopy scroll down the screen below the crossword and CLICK Print My Puzzle (purple button)

Answers are below: Week 3 – Native Birds of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Across 1.Wren 4.King 10.Yellow 12.Wonga 13.Magpie 14.Sulphur 15.Boobook 16.Rock 18.Wattlebird 21.Whip 23.Powerful 24.Eastern 29.Rosella 31.Peewee 32.Treecreeper 35.Butcherbird 36.Currawong 37.Noisy  Down 2.Raven 3.Golden 4.Kookaburra 5.Grey 6.Frogmouth 7.Bower 8.Swallow 9.Galah 11.Duck 17.Bell 19.Koel 20.Brown 21.White 22.Plover 25.Silvereye 26.Wedge 27.Honeyeater 28.Lyrebird 30.Red 33.Cuckoo 34.Noisy

Answers are below: Week 4 – Native Animals of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

Blank Canvas – Before and After

By Malcolm McPherson

As part of the COVID-19 times we asked volunteers about taking ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos. This inspired Malcolm to tell his story – goals, struggles and challenges converting his concrete pad ‘front’ and ‘back’ yards into a native garden and native habitat.

At the end of the article there are some useful links to RFS – assest protection zones, creating a native garden in a fire prone areas and a guide to native plants to grow in fire prone areas within the Blue Mountains.

Creating a native habitat – great for pollinators. Photo: Malcolm McPherson

To read the full story click on the download.

When you buy a new house, the garden may not have been important to your decision. The garden may be well designed and maintained. If it is not to your taste, you can gradually change it. In my case, the garden was non-existent. It was a blank canvas. Worse than that, the front had been completely concreted over and at the back was a large expanse of concrete which had formed the slab for a large workshed and associated driveway. A large dog had trampled anything green. A significant area of that part of the backyard that was not under concrete was heavily shaded by neighbours’ deciduous trees.

Removing concrete is heavy work. I used a jackhammer, concrete saw and angle grinder for the first time in my life. You do not know what you will find under the concrete. If the original pour had been over fibro as happens sometimes in older buildings, the cost of removal can be prohibitive. The soil beneath may have been filled or contaminated with material not conducive to plant growth. Bringing in some native soil mix is good insurance. Eight or ten centimetres is enough for the plants to become established.

Before, Beginning, During and After Photos – creating a native garden from a concrete pad.

When designing a garden it is always necessary to consider physical constraints such as powerlines and clotheslines. Planting prickly or spiky plants next to paths is best avoided!

There is always the temptation to choose plants that represent environments that we like. Tree ferns and other species that like a damp environment along stream banks are not going to survive on the top of the plateau where most of the older mountain town dwellings are located. Finding plants that live on the top of the plateau that can also tolerate shade was a challenge. It is not a common situation in nature in the mountains.

As with bushcare planting in denuded areas, planting is something of a gamble. Acacia terminalis is reputed to be a hardy colonising species, one that would seem to have been ideally suited to my bare garden. The few that have done well are in sheltered positions. Unlike bushcare locations, it is usually possible to keep up the water until plants are established. Until larger shrubs and trees are established, it is best to think of plant succession. In the beginning, it is about whatever grows. The end result may take some years to accomplish.

Useful Links:

Rural Fire Servicehttps://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/

RFS – Standards for Asset Protection Zones https://ww.rfs.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/13321/Standards-for-Asset-Protection-Zones.pdf

Blue Mountains City Council Guide: Best local native plants for use in bushfire prone locations www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/documents/guide-best-local-native-plants-for-use-bushfire-prone-locations

Habitat Network Habitat Network: Habitat in your garden in a bush fire prone area

Colonising Plant Species

Article by James Bevan

The Concept

Plant species which establish after environmental disturbances events are known as “colonisers” or colonising plant species. Following 2019-20 summer bushfires and floods, colonising plants are germinating from seed into the ground layer vegetation stratum. These autotrophic organisms (which produce their own energy as carbon from photosynthesis) are currently superabundant, capturing carbon for ecological communities across the Blue Mountains. This process is known as secondary ecological succession.

The below photo shows a local example of secondary ecological succession dominated by ground layer species Sigesbeckia orientalis and Australian Basket Grass (Oplismenus aemulus).

Clearing with ground colonised by ground layer species
Colonising plants initiating secondary succession at Carlons Creek, Blue Mountains NP. Photo: James Bevan

Interestingly, many colonising plant species are related members of certain plant families, such as the Grasses (Poaceae), Daisies (Asteraceae), Nightshades (Solanaceae), Peas (Fabaceae), and Mints (Lamiaceae). Some of the colonising species which are currently abundant post-fire and rain are listed in the Table below (Table 1).

Table 1: Examples of Colonising Plant Species

FamilyColonising Plants
Poaceae (Grasses)Right Angle Grass, Wiry Panic (Entolasia marginata)
Poaceae (Grasses)Weeping Grass (Microlaena stipoides)
Poaceae (Grasses)Australian Basket Grass (Oplismenus aemulus)
Poaceae (Grasses)*Panic Veldtgrass (Ehrharta erecta)
Asteraceae (Daisies)Sigesbeckia orientalis
Asteraceae (Daisies)*Fleabane (Conyza spp.)
Solanaceae (Nightshades)Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare)
Solanaceae (Nightshades)*Blackberry Nightshade (Solanum nigrum)
Fabaceae (Peas)Hickory Wattle (Acacia falcata)
Fabaceae (Peas)Dusky Coral Pea (Kennedia rubicunda)
Fabaceae (Peas)*Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius)
Lamiaceae (Mints)Cockspur Flower (Plectranthus parviflorus)
NB. * indicates introduced species

Practical Application – Revegetation

Planted colonising species often have high survivorship rates on revegetation sites. Succession planting describes using colonising plant species during the first stage of revegetation, similar to the process of ecological succession. As our climate continues to change, plantings can expect to be exposed to extreme heat, longer summers and long periods between rain events. Planting colonising plant species with a high survivorship and fecundity may improve the efficiency of long-term ecological restoration.

For example, widely distributed native colonising species that may be suitable for revegetation include Right Angle Grass (Entolasia spp.), Weeping Grass (Microlaena stipoides), Australian Basket Grass (Oplismenus aemulus), Sigesbeckia orientalis, Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare), Hickory Wattle (Acacia falcata), Dusky Coral Pea (Kennedia rubicunda) and Cockspur Flower (Plectranthus parviflorus). The ecological communities found on your local Bushcare site will support locally adapted colonising plant species. Your local Bushcare Officer may be a good source of further advice on this topic.

Blue Mountains Bushcare welcomes new Bushcare Officer James Bevan

Integral to Bushcare is depth of knowledge, understanding and leadership, and we are delighted to introduce you to our new Bushcare Officer, James Bevan. James will be taking over the Swampcare Program.

James Bevan
New Bushcare officer James Bevan

James has ten years’ experience in both aquatic and terrestrial Australian ecosystems applying his knowledge and skills across a variety of fields from ecological consulting, bush regeneration and training young adults. James’ studied a BSc.(Hons) at Sydney University, and his previous employers have included The Good Bush People, Conservation Volunteers Australia and The Australian Museum. James began appreciating the Blue Mountains’ bushland as a teenager, and is thrilled to be working as a Bushcare Officer.  

Please welcome James to the Bushcare family.

Chiloglottis – Wasp Orchid

Article by Karen Hising, Jan Allen and Keith Brister

Jan Allen, a very observant Bushcare volunteer from the Upper Mountains, found this beautiful Orchid.  From research, we were not sure of the full identification, but we have been advised that it may be Chiloglottis seminuda – other experts may offer an opinion. 

Chiloglottis species – front view Photo credit: K Brister

The genera Chiloglottis is also known as Wasp Orchid.  The common name comes from the “callus” – the glands on the labellum, which resemble the body of a female wasp.  Instead of being attracted by the general offer of nectar or pollen, many Orchid species, such as the native Chiloglottis genera, use sexual deception to attract male wasp pollinators.  These Orchids emit an odorous pheromone very similar to the sexual pheromone produced by females of the pollinator species, thereby luring the male to the flower with the false offer of sex. 

Chiloglottis species – rear view. Photo credit: K Brister

Pollination occurs when the male wasps attempt to copulate with structures on the Orchid labellum that mimic the wingless, ant-like female.  The high degree of specificity between sexually-deceptive Orchids and their pollinators indicates that there must be subtle, but important, differences in the pheromones produced among even closely related Orchids.

References:

Uncovering The Sexual Tricks Of Orchid Flowers (Abstract) – Julianne D Livingston http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/n1676/pdf/ch04.pdf

Memoirs Of The Museum Of Victoria 56(2):461-466 (1997) Hidden Biodiversity:  Detection Of Cryptic Thynnine Wasp Species Using Sexually-Deceptive, Female-Mimicking Orchids (Abstract) – Colin C. Bower and Graham R. Brown https://museumsvictoria.com.au/media/4804/jmmv19975639.pdf

http://peonyden.blogspot.com/2011/01/wasp-orchid-chiloglottis-reflexa-comes.html

CLICK below to read the book review – Orchids of the Blue Mountains by Sabine Hanisch and Ben Jasiak; how their daughter discovered a long lost orchid and also about the multi-billion dollar Bush Blitz project – a project finding thousands of new species.

Orchids of the Blue Mountains Book Review

A book that you might find interesting in regard to local Blue Mountains Orchids is: Orchids Of The Blue Mountains by Sabine Hanisch and Ben Jasiak

Native Orchids of the Blue Mountains features over 125 species of native orchid that occur within the Blue Mountains Region, with over 500 photographs.  This intends to aid in the identification of native orchids, and help document and record what currently exists within one of the most botanically diverse regions on the East Coast of Australia. You can purchase your copy at NPWS Heritage Centre, Blackheath, or by contacting the authors:   bluemountainsnativeorchids@gmail.com  

The book has also been listed on ebay.

Sabine Hanisch and Ben Jasiak also have a Facebook page that includes some stunning photos of local native Orchids. https://www.facebook.com/BlueMountainsOrchidsbySabineHanischandBenJasiak/?__tn__=%2Cd%2CP-R&eid=ARDKDBPmGMfgd1Sqx5Cqk0jnAxIPthY0273ISPKkpAjLoGDaFrCpzBZpFilYvghc9vpcnj2_dWF_ZilD –

An interesting post on that Facebook page comes from an article from the “Sydney Morning Herald” about Sabine and Ben’s eight year old Daughter Arabella finding a rare Orchid that has not been seen for over 140 years.  The full article is via the link below: 

Home schooling led eight-year-old to rediscover long lost orchid – “Sydney Morning Herald” (29 April 2020)

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/homeschooling-break-led-eight-year-old-to-rediscover-long-lost-orchid-20200429-p54ocs.html?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook

In that article there is mention of “Bush Blitz” – an excerpt from the article is below:

The multi-billion-dollar project (“Bush Blitz”) began in 2010 and has uncovered thousands of new species. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Bush Blitz would join taxonomists, Indigenous communities, park rangers and local councils across the country to explore remote parts of Australia and classify new species.

Since the COVID-19 social distancing regulations came into play the project has had to think creatively to motivate discoveries virtually.

Using the app iNaturalist Bush Blitz is providing every day Australians with the opportunity to have their discoveries analysed and verified by the country’s best taxonomists. After an individual’s discovery is verified by one of the experts on the app the data is categorised in the Atlas of Living Australia as a new species.

Bush Blitz manager Jo Harding said this process will help “solidify the place of citizen science data in research”.

Their aim during COVID-19 is to nurture curiosity through technology “we want to help teachers and parents to motivate children to behave like scientists in the field and discover things in their backyards” she said.

Although aimed at involving all Australians, Ms Harding said children especially will help reveal Australia’s unknown biodiversity.

“Adults have often lost the ability to wonder in awe. The way that children look at the world as if everything is new and worth examining is exactly how discoveries are made,” she said. “We finally have the technology to tap into that lack of expectation and nurture that quality.”

More information on Bush Blitz is available via https://bushblitz.org.au/

Clean Up Australia – Maple Grove (The Gully)

By Jane Anderson

40 Volunteers turned up to Maple Grove, Katoomba for the annual Clean Up Australia event to help remove the rubbish recently deposited by the large rainfall event in February. Aunty Sharyn and David King welcomed us and talked of why this yearly event is so important to the health of the system and the Community. David has been involved with Clean Up Australia since the early beginnings of the program.

The group collected a huge amount of rubbish and felt a great sense of achievement keeping the rubbish out of the Kedumba system whilst gathering with members from Scenic world and the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institution.

And then off course we had a delicious morning tea. See you there next year!

40 volunteers listen to Aunty Sharyn and David King talk about Clean Up Australia at Maple Grove (located in the Gully) and it’s importance to the health of the system and Community. Photo: Council

Fallen Oreades – Swamp Resilience

A very large Gully Oreades Roost tree (Eucalyptus oreades) came down in April during a windstorm. Council’s Natural Area Operations team made the area safe and cut the old tree up into usable pieces for use in Middle and Top Swamp for erosion control, water retention, habitat and organic matter.

Council’s NAO team cutting up the fallen Euclayptus oreades roost tree then placing them in the swamp for erosion control, water retention, habitat and organic matter.  Photos: Jane Anderson

Some of you may remember when Kirsten Cowley came and talked to Garguree about her PhD which involves assessing the physical attributes of upland swamps, such as water quality, carbon sequestration potential and sedimentology and how these attributes change along a geomorphic degradation spectrum. (To read more see link below).

The fallen Oreades are used to form check dams across the contour lines to slow down water movement across the swamp. These sediment control measures will contribute to the health and resilience of the swamps in ways that were outlined by Kirsten in her talk (attached below a short explanation of her research methods) by placing more organic matter into the systems and slowing the flow of water.