Category Archives: General

Scoop a Poop

Tackling antimicrobial resistance in wildlife
By Michelle Power

Many of us feel lucky that we share our cities and homes with wildlife. But did you know we also share our bacteria? Antibiotic resistant bacteria are those that have overcome the effect of antibiotics (medicines used to treat or prevent infections) are spreading to wildlife. And although we mainly think of antibiotic resistance as a human health issue, increasing reports of resistant bacteria in our wildlife raises questions about whether these bacteria affect their health too.
Through the Scoop a Poop project, citizen scientists can now contribute to a study of antibiotic resistance in Australian wildlife, specifically possums. How? By collecting possum poop from backyards and submitting it for testing for antimicrobial resistance.
Bushcare Blue Mountains hosted a Scoop a Poop workshop on April 13, which was also Citizen Science Day. The Scoop a Poop team discussed brushtail possum ecology and their different personalities (Clare McArthur, University of Sydney) and explained how connectivity between people, wildlife and the environment we share, facilitates the spread of antibiotic
resistant bacteria (Michelle Power, Macquarie University).
Ann Tierney from WIRES talked about the important role of WIRES in
rehabilitating wildlife and the growing need for the use of antibiotics to treat the increasing number of injuries presenting in our wildlife. The workshop highlights how the local community, WIRES, Blue Mountains Council and universities are working together, and the necessity for
partnerships to address environmental issues through scientific research.

From the right Associate professor Clare McArthur, Associate professor Michelle Power and Scoop a Poop Project leader Dr Koa Webster

Koa Webster (Macquarie University) and the team then gave participants hands-on experience in identifying wildlife scats (using playdough models!), and in using the Scoop a Poop kit and its
smartphone app. Poop-collectors can use the app to record where they collected each poss-poop sample. Using the Scatlas app feature, they can also follow the testing process of samples, and even track their own submission. The group also discussed antibiotic stewardship – actions we can all take to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics and reduce antibiotic resistance. Workshop participants then took Scoop a Poop kits to collect possum poop from their yards for testing.
Scoop a Poop’s pilot study detected antibiotic resistance genes, where we discovered bacteria resistant to some antibiotics in 27% of Possum poop samples. The team is still working out which bacteria are resistant and to what antibiotics. The Possum poop samples from the Blue Mountains will contribute to samples from other parts of NSW, Victoria and South Australia and help answer questions about geographic of resistance in wildlife.

WIRES has recently joined the Scoop a Poop project, and the Blue Mountains wildlife carers will begin to contribute possum poop samples from the many possums they care for. Michelle Power, the Scoop a Poop project leader, explains why working with WIRES is super important for working out how these resistant bacteria in possums may impact their health. “WIRES has information from the possums coming into care, which allows us to examine relationships between possum health and carriage of resistant bacteria,” says Michelle. Michelle also explains that antibiotics are important for treating injuries in wildlife, and if they have resistant bacteria already in their bacterial communities then treatments may not work. “There is really a lot we do not know about antibiotic resistant bacteria in wildlife, and understanding this is not only important for our wildlife but it is also connected to human health,” says Michelle.
You can read more about the project at the Scoop a Poop website. The Scoop a Poop team also run lessons in schools for Years 6-12 and students can also get involved in collecting possum poop samples. Continued p10. For more information: www.scoopapoop.net

The Hidden World

By Sandy Benson
No one thinks twice about the tiny world we walk on everyday but a hidden world exists right below your feet.
‘What, that is amazing!!!’ were the words I heard all morning as we
discovered what was living on and underneath the tiny fungi. Sean Moore was the hit of the day bringing his hand held microscope that attached to his phone. The detail was so clear that he was able to identify several species including Hexapoda and Harvestman living on fungi the size of a matchstick head. One of the fungi inspected looked as though it was absorbing a tiny insect. I was so suprised by the amazing fungi we found in Coachwood Glen, but I was equally suprised by what we couldn’t see with the naked eye. Sean also recorded their movements on his phone.

Additional Information
We have found some interesting fungal specimens in the Blue Mountains, some of which are only known from Tasmania, New Zealand, and some from Queensland. We have only been able to identify some other specimens down to genus level, as they don’t appear in any of the fungi field guides. The family Boletaceae is particularly under-represented in field guides, though we have many different genera in the Blue Mountains.
We will be collecting some of these fungi to send to the Plant Pathology Herbarium at Orange for confirmation of the species. This herbarium holds a large collection of fungi from NSW, more than 113,000 specimens, https://www.anbg.gov.au/chah/resources/herbaria/dar.html
Bushcare website – Fungi of the Blue mountains. This webpage was set up for Liz to add her information. https://www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/groups/fungi-of-the-blue-mountains/?highlight=fungiFollowing

If you missed out on attending the last Fungi Foray, we will be holding another Fungi Foray in Fairy Dell, Springwood later in the year, so please keep an eye out for dates.

Fungi Foray

Fungi Foray, Coachwood Glen 6th April 2019
By Liz Kabanoff
Coachwood Glen Nature Trail, on the road down to the Megalong Valley, is a beautiful walk around rainforest vegetation. In autumn the forest erupts with a multitude of colourful fungi, in a spectacular variety of forms. Earth stars, Earth tongues, Corals, Cups, Brackets, Jellies, Clubs and Polypores adorn the forest floor and fallen trees, each one playing its part in the cycle that helps to keep an ecosystem stable.
In April volunteers Liz Kabanoff and Gemma Williams led a group of fifteen enthusiastic volunteers and community members on a fungi walk around the rainforest. Recent rain and cooler autumn weather meant that we were rewarded with more than 40 species of fungi in every colour of the rainbow. The two hour activity flew by, and was an eye-opener into the ‘forgotten kingdom’.
Fungi perform a variety of roles in nature. They may be nutrient recyclers, decomposing fallen trees, leaves and animal scats, and releasing nutrients to the environment. Many fungi form mycorrhizal relationships with the roots of plants, passing on inorganic nutrients in exchange for carbohydrates that the plant produces via photosynthesis. Substances secreted by
mycorrhizal fungi aid in building better soil structure.

Fungi provide food for invertebrates such as our native slugs and snails. Lyrebirds, Potoroos, Bandicoots and some Wallabies also eat certain types of fungi. The fungal spores pass through their digestive systems and are distributed to other areas in their faeces. Certain species of fungi also have a role in producing hollows in trees, providing homes for birds and mammals. After bushfire, fungal mycelial mats form on burnt ground, helping to stabilise soil and prevent erosion.
iNaturalist is a citizen science project and online social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe.
The Fungi in the Blue Mountains project aims to document the biodiversity of fungi found in the Blue Mountains NSW, and focuses primarily on bushcare sites. It is an umbrella project for a number of other projects (Fungi in Fairy Dell, Fungi in Birdwood Gully, Fungi in Else Mitchell Park, Fungi in the Deanei reserve and Fungi in Coachwood Glen).
If your Bushcare Group is interested in being part of Fungi of the Blue Mountains project, Liz can assist you in starting your own iNaturalist group.
For more info on how to start please contact
asteele@bmcc.nsw.gov.au or 4780 5320

Popes Glen Remote Bushcare

Popes Glen Remote

By Steve Fleischmann
The Blue Mountains City Council remote Bushcare
Program began 16 years ago, working in partnership with National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) across several adjoining land tenures.
These remote events are planned with Bushcare/Landcare Groups to extend their work further into parts of the catchment that are difficult to access. It provides an opportunity for group members to gain a better understanding of their sub catchments and the issues they face such as seed dispersal.
Broom and Gorse have the ability to shoot their seeds some metres away which allows infestations to thicken quickly and to spread, particularly along water courses. Their pods burst open in hot weather during spring and summer, scattering seeds up to several metres from the plant. Seeds of these species have a hard coat that can delay germination for months or years, allowing large seed banks to develop. Seeds can remain viable in the soil for many years (https://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/ScotchBroom).
These weed seeds are carried along streams and rivers by water and sediment resulting in long distance dispersal downstream and germinatation at new sites, especially in gullies. This is particularly true of Broom and Gorse.
A coordinated approach has been undertaken with the NPWS as part of the Great Grose Weed Walk program, in order to reduce the volume of weed propagules entering the Grose Valley and other wilderness areas.
Bushcare, BMCC staff and contractors have been working in the upper parts of Popes Glen for many years treating Gorse, Montbretia, Holly, Broom, Rhododendrons, Tutsan and whatever else they find hiding in the ferns.
Recently, Bushcare volunteers, Steve Fleischmann (Bushcare Officer) and Grant Purcell (Ranger) from NPWS worked as a team in the lower parts of Popes Glen. The team met at the NPWS Heritage Centre, tooled up and made their way downstream with half the volunteers working upstream near the Cliff tops while the other half worked downstream along and in the creek treating Montbretia.
Due to recent rains many weeds had been flattened by water flowing down the creekline which in turn made it difficult to spot them. Many slow sweeps of the riparian zones were required to locate and treat weeds such as Gorse, Broom and Montbretia. This Remote Program made up of volunteers has made a significant impact on the weed density in the lower parts of Pope’s
Glen Creek. If you are looking for a challenging but interesting day out where you can make a difference join our Remote Program.

What do you know about wildlife in your local area? Share your sightings and knowledge of NSW wildlife!

NSW communities are being called on to share their sightings from the past two years through a new wildlife survey released by the Office of Environment and Heritage. The survey asks if you have information about a selection of NSW wildlife: brushtail possums, foxes, platypus, wombats, koalas, spotted-tailed quolls, echidnas, kangaroo, deer and dingos.

Whether you saw a possum on your way to school, a wombat while out working, or a koala while on holiday, every sighting contributes to research to help understand where in NSW these animals are living and how their populations are faring.

The survey is being funded as part of the $44.7 million NSW Koala Strategy, that is helping to secure the future of koalas in the wild.

Data from this years survey can help identify sites for action under the NSW Koala Strategy as well as forming part of koala monitoring across the State. It only takes 10 to 20 minutes to complete and its a great opportunity to help build knowledge about wildlife in your local area.

Access the new wildlife survey here: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/wildlife-survey

Volunteer Ventures

Glenbrook Lagoon Floating Turtle Habitat
By Sandy Benson
An amazing pilot program constructing and installing a floating turtle habitat in Glenbrook Lagoon is the first of its kind for the Blue Mountains.
The Glenbrook Lagoon Bushcare group along with community members came together to construct the floating turtle island. The aim of the project which was funded by the NSW Premier’s Office is to provide a safe nesting environment away from predation for the several species of turtle found at Glenbrook Lagoon.

Volunteers from Glenbrook Lagoon Bushcare and corporate volunteers from Salesforce working together to build the base structure


The turtle population Australia-wide is ageing and declining, with few young recruits, thanks to predation on eggs and hatchlings. This is no different to the challenges faced by the Glenbrook Lagoon turtles.
The joint project team involving Bushcare, Councils Healthy Waterways team and the University of Western Sydney are keen to work on this pilot project to provide a sanctuary for the turtles to breed on. This floating island will have easy access from the water for the turtles to climb onto rest, bask and lay their eggs on.

Volunteers sewing up the jute mesh and planting sedges into the coir


The base structure is built from a combination of PVC piping, foam and mesh. The whole island is covered with jute matting, with wetland species tubestock planted into a coconut coir substrate. Worm farms filled with sand sit on top of the structure to ensure that the sand is dry, perfect for egg laying. The submerged and free floating wetland plants create a marsh environment which captures and stores organic material in the peat leading to high quality water treatment as well as providing an ideal habitat.
The project will be assessed and if successful additional turtle islands may be considered.

Turtle Island being moved into place off the Glenbrook lagoon sand bank

Scoop a Poop
We have already had a great response to the collection of possum poo with participant Max saying “I was happy to attend the scoop-a-poop event yesterday which turned out to be a great
success with the hall filled with enthusiastic people!
The issues were well presented and discussed & I managed to collect fresh samples this morning from my own backyard.


I have already notified the group via the app & scanning my code plus photo of the poo from a
breeding adult female Brushtail Possum which frequents the area & has surely checked out my compost area in backyard! I saw a baby last year initially in her pouch then wandering near her a couple weeks later. I have noticed smaller males & ringtail possums in the past who are just occasional visitors. They all come out at night and a backyard light and/or torch is required to see them clearly. On rare occasions I hear the female possum become quite vocal as part of a suspected territorial display and screech at and possibly chase off other possums.
The two lots of possum poo I found were under a peach tree and on a pavement in my backyard”.

Download the Poop a Scoop App to upload your collection results then deliver your poop a Scoop collection kit to the Blue Mountains City Council front desk

Broken Hill and Margaret Morris

The continued story of the Broken Hill regeneration area
By Peter Ardill
Albert Morris (1886-1939) is correctly credited with being the instigator of the Broken Hill regeneration area project (1936-58), a re-vegetation initiative that established a belt of naturally regenerated indigenous flora around Broken Hill. However, new research demonstrates that Margaret Morris (1887-1957), spouse of Albert, played a far more significant role in the project than previously thought.
Margaret was a 1920 founding member of the Barrier Field Naturalists Club (BFN), a natural science organisation that strongly lobbied for the establishment of the regeneration area in the 1930s. With tutelage from Albert, she developed into a competent amateur botanist and was undoubtedly involved, during the 1920s and 1930s, with the collection of plants for Albert’s herbarium, which eventually consisted of 7000 mostly arid-zone flora specimens, and is now predominantly housed in the State Herbarium of South Australia. She worked with Albert in the c1930 establishment of an extensive plantation of trees in Broken Hill, a pioneering landscaping undertaking for that dry and dusty city.
Following the commencement of the regeneration area project in 1936, it is very likely that Margaret was active with the botanical aspects of the work, collecting native seed, propagating plants and contributing to the management of the project’s plant nursery as well as the Morris home nursery. With the death of Albert in 1939 due to illness, she seamlessly continued with these roles, her knowledge and skills playing a crucial role in maintaining the momentum of the project.
Margaret studied and surveyed the botanical recovery of the indigenous flora in the regeneration reserves. In October, 1939, the Australian Journal of Science published her timely article, “Plant Regeneration in the Broken Hill District”, an early example of Australian environmental repair reporting which recorded the development stages of the regeneration project and its significant botanical success. She also assisted University of Sydney academics with their 1939-40 study of the recovery of the indigenous flora in the regeneration reserves.
Margaret wrote articles for the local and inter-state print media of c1940 in which she extolled the various benefits of the regeneration area. She noted the amenity advantages for local residents, as sand no longer smothered their homes. Tourists visited the city, as the restored landscape was now covered in a carpet of brilliantly flowering flora during spring and summer, instead of bare sand. She acknowledged all the people who had contributed to the development of the project, emphasising its community connections and outcomes.
Finally, she expounded on the actual botanical success of the various regeneration reserves and emphasised the importance of utilising a natural regeneration technique and the local flora in the reserves, predicting that they would withstand the fierce drought of 1940…and they did!

A talented and yet modest person who spoke little of her own achievements and, like Albert, led by example, persuasion and logical arguments. Margaret’s role in the development of the Broken Hill regeneration area project, one of the first of its kind in the world, was significant, especially during the middle stages of its development. In partnership with her restoration colleagues, her continual verification of the project contributed strongly to its resumption after the Second World War and ultimate completion in 1958.

References and further reading: http://www.aabr.org.au/morris-broken-hill/
Membership of the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators (AABR) is open to all and the quarterly newsletter is packed with the latest developments in the fields of bush regeneration, natural regeneration, ecological restoration and details of forthcoming field trips and tours.
Read past copies:
http://www.aabr.org.au/learn/publications-presentations/aabr-newsletters/

Seasonal Calendar

By Jim Smith for the Blue Mountains Conservation Society This is the link to the full article https://www.bluemountains.org.au/timeline.shtml

Winter Weather
July/August: Coldest months, frosts, snowfalls, waterfalls may freeze. August: Westerly winds, often have effects on plants growth and form, and on bird behaviour.
Mammals
June: Swamp Rat, Rattus lutreolus, numbers peak (born May/June). Many young present.
Pygmy Possums and Feathertail Gliders in torpor.
Quoll breeding season. Males wander.
July: Bush Rat and Swamp Rat, Rattus fuscipes and Rattus lutreolus, numbers lowest, adults die off.
August: Marsupial mice, Antechinus, mating. Males die at end of mating season.
Reptiles and Frogs
Broad-headed Snakes shelter under rocks. (will bask in sun). Most reptiles in torpor. Goannas bask in sun. Whistling Tree Frogs continue to call. Insects Ghost Moths fly Nellies Glen Butterflies, Pseudalmenus chlorinda, pupate on wattles. Gnats swarm over heaths.
Blue Spotted Painted Ladies, Vanessa kershawii, migrating southbrown butterfly. (late August)
Aquatic
August: Trout spawn. Eels migrate from sea up Hawkesbury River to mountain streams (Aug-Sep). On upper Blue Mountains plateau only in Greaves Creek. Mountain Minnows, Galaxias, hibernate in mud. Clam Shrimps, Conchostracans, dormant in pools as eggs.

Birds
June: Lyrebird calls peakbreeding season. Flocking: Black Cockatoos, Satin Bowerbirds (males) and Red Wattlebirds. Crescent Honeyeaters seen on escarpments, influx from south, can breed in area. Breeding: New Holland Honeyeaters, Powerful Owls, Wedge-tailed Eagles.
Influx of Eastern Spinebills (June to September). In lower mountains influx is in May to July.
July: ‘Spring’ begins for birds.
Resident birds (insectivores) form territories, begin to breed. Tree Martins return.
Male Superb Fairy Wrens turn blue. Lyrebird eggs laid. Many juvenile New Holland Honeyeaters.
August: Many breeding birds, territorial calls, eg.Fantail Cuckoo, Grey Shrike Thrush.
Night calls (Boobook Owls, Tawny Frogmouths, Masked Lapwings) through to November.
Young Lyrebirds in nests. Migrants reappear. Noisy Friarbirds, Grey Fantails, Flame Robins. Major honeyeater migration back from north begins. Magpie nesting and bombing can begin
Plants
Banksia spinulosa, Banksia ericifolia nectar flow. Winter wattles flower: Sunshine Wattle, Acacia terminalis, first, then Acacia longifolia. Greenhood Orchids flower, e.g. Pterostylis longiflora,
Pterostylis grandiflora. In August: Lady’s Fingers Orchids, Caladenia catenata, flower. Red bird pollinated flowers abundant – Styphelia, Epacris reclinata, some Lambertia formosa, Grevillea acanthifolia.

Garguree Swampcare recieves grant funding

Protecting our Places Grant

By Jane Anderson
Garguree Swampcare has been successful in receiving funding from the NSW Environmental Trust’s Protecting our Places Program for the protection of Aboriginal Places in the Gully and McCrae’s Paddock, Katoomba. This is stage 4 of an ongoing project supported by NSW
Environmental Trust and will support restoration works to the Threatened Ecological Communities and riparian corridor in the Gully. This project will include bush regeneration, streambank stabilisation, habitat enhancement and cultural workshops where the Gundungurra Traditional Owners can share their stories and cultural knowledge with the Blue Mountains community.

Garguree Swampcare partcipants being welcomed to Country by Aunty Sharon
Garguree Swampcare participants being welcomed to Country by Aunty Sharon


These grants have enabled us to make a huge difference in the landscape and community of the Gully by enabling major restoration projects in the areas we call Middle Swamp, Fire Fly Corner and Nellies Fishing. We have removed thousands of woody weeds and weedy annuals, planted thousands of locally endemic plants and started a bushtucker garden featuring plants significant to the The Gully Traditional Owners (GTO). We are always busy and it seems to just be growing as more community realise and hold onto the significance and importance of this living vital place that is known as ‘The Gully’, an Aboriginal Place full of the past, the
present and the future. The grant will support the creation of habitat pockets around Catalina Lake with a significant planting project of around 2000 plants to protect our aquatic fauna and birds. The plants will provide habitat as well as safe refuge.
The GTO will be hosting cultural workshops where they will share their stories and knowledge with the community, focusing on the Bushtucker Garden and weaving with native species such as Lomandra and Dianella as well as weeds found in The Gully.
All of this great work contributes to Garguree being recognised last year winning The Regional and State Indigenous Landcare awards. David King, The GTO Garguree Swampcare coordinator, accepted these awards and brought them back to the community. It was a great achievement and a huge step in the continuation and recognition of how The Gully is healing through working on country, listening on country, sharing on country and always Caring for Country.

Volunteers working on Vinca (weedy vine) control in the ground layer 2 June 2019

A big thank you to the Co-op for donating a delicious morning tea to the Garguree Swampcare Group every month. The volunteers always look forward to what’s on offer!