Category Archives: General

Gaga about Gang-gangs: A Special Birds in Backyards Program

Are you gaga about Gang-gang Cockatoos? Join BirdLife for a new project that will give you the knowledge and skills to take action to make a real impact on the conservation of this iconic species! Participants will help uncover the secrets of this charismatic but mysterious bird and contribute to research that will inform further Gang-gang Cockatoo recovery actions. We are seeking schools, urban/rural gardeners and rural property owners in target regions to participate. For more information and to register your interest click here.

Summer Edition of the 2021 Gecko Newsletter

In this issue read about:

Were Back- Bushcare service returns
Celebrating our Volunteers at the annual Bushcare Awards 
Turtle Habitat Island 
FrogFind- Volunteer callout
Post Fire Monitoring by Science for Wildlife
Blue Mountains Conservation Landscapes
Eucalyptus punctata (Grey Gum)  
Farewell Monica 
Welcome Sue 

The Gecko is up on the BMCC website:

Bushcare Groups Recommencing from November

After a rather long break, Bushcare will be recommencing from Monday, November the 1st, 2021. 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 last lockdown.

Our key consideration remains the health and safety of our community, our volunteers, and our staff. Accordingly, the Bushcare Program will recommence in line with NSW Government Public Health Orders.

• In November, 2021 – Blue Mountains City Council’s Bushcare activities will resume for fully vaccinated people and follow NSW Health Guidelines.

In December 2021 – Changes in December, 2021 will see further restrictions easing (including non-vaccinated people) as per the NSW Health Orders. More details will be sent out closer to this date.

Resumption of Bushcare activities from November 1, 2021 through to December 2021 (as per the NSW Health Orders)

From November the 1st, 2021, Bushcare will resume for fully vaccinated people only in line with NSW Health Guidelines. Proof of double vaccination must be sighted before commencing the work session (records are not kept). Staff and volunteers are required to sign in using the NSW Health QR Code system.

A COVID safe toolbox meeting will be held for all volunteers to brief on the current BMCC COVID return plan before the workday commences. The toolbox talk will inform volunteers of current restrictions and requirements. The toolbox talk will be documented and signed off by all attendees (COVID 19 Protocol, staff to sign for the volunteers).

For the month of November, no new volunteers will be accepted.

On Bushcare workdays, the following safety practices and principles will apply:

Hygiene practices

• Maintaining a physical distance of at least 1.5m between volunteers and staff.
• Bushcare Officers to provide hand sanitizer/disinfectant/PPE.
• Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Masks are no longer mandatory outside.
• Maximum of 30 volunteers on a workday. Additional staff may be required to split the group to maintain safe numbers.

Cleaning of Equipment

• Volunteers bringing personal tools is encouraged; cleaning of tools will be the responsibility of the volunteer owner.
• Staff to ensure BMCC equipment is cleaned/disinfected before and after use as per current protocols.

Distribution of equipment and materials between volunteers and staff

• Volunteers will be encouraged to bring their own tools.
• Council will issue tools to volunteers by placing them on a table with one person at a time coming forward to collect.
• Herbicide applicators are to be placed on a table, with one person at a time coming forward to collect.

Provision of morning tea and food

• Whilst an important component of the social elements of Bushcare activities to reduce the risk of transmission between staff and volunteer’s morning tea breaks including food and tea and coffee for volunteers will be managed as follows;
• Volunteers are not permitted to bring food to share at Bushcare work sessions and events.
• Volunteers are to supply their own morning tea (for their consumption).

Maintaining site, WHS, and Volunteer attendance records

• Bushcare Officers only are to maintain all physical Bushcare Site record books. With Bushcare Officers only, permitted to handle the book and the pen and sign on behalf of volunteers attending. For those groups that maintain their book, the Volunteer Coordinator only handles the book and pen and will sign on behalf of the volunteers. A remark concerning ‘COVID 19 Protocol’ to be made on the signed sheet to ensure transparency of volunteers being signed for.

Volunteer self-monitoring – If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, do not attend and seek medical care early

• Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing and seek medical attention. Follow the directions of your local health authority. Should any person attend a site and present with any symptoms of cold /flu, they should be directed to a COVID 19 testing facility and not be permitted to participate in any Bushcare activities until the results of the COVID test can be presented.

Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider.

• Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow the advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority, or Council on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
• National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. Therefore, they are best placed to advise what people on your site should be doing to protect themselves.

NSW Government and Signage to be displayed.

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

Bushcare Awards 2021 – Celebrating our Volunteers

Once again, we are celebrating our Bushcare volunteers through the eyes of the digital world.  2021 became the year bookended by COVID shutdowns much to the dismay of all. When lockdown lifted at the start of June last year we saw the impressive resumption of the Bushcare Program – a tribute to our dedicated Bushcare volunteers. And we know that with the same passion and dedication we can come out of this next shutdown with the same gusto!

Our Award Ceremony was held as a Zoom ceremony so everyone could view Mayor Mark Greenhill present the awards and hear the acceptance speeches live on their home computers.  Congratulations to Rae Druitt receiving the Bushcare Legend Golden Trowel Trophy and our recipient of the Junior Bushcare Ryan Memorial Shield – Daemon Silk.

We thank David King, Gundungurra man, for the Welcome to Country and talk. We included a couple of talks with John French and Fiona Lumsden showing their recent survey Birds in The Gully, and Megan Halcroft talking about native bees in preparation for pollinators week.

Our ‘Thank you” gift to our volunteers is a cool Cooler lunch bag that will be presented to you by your Bushcare Officer when you all come back together onsite – with the personal touch!!

Photos: Golden Trowel and Junior Shield Award and the Cooler Lunch Bag Thank You gift to our volunteers Credit: BMCC

Group Awards

Celebrating years of service to Bushcare

25 Years 
Charles Darwin /Jamison Creek BushcareWentworth Falls
Sublime Point BushcareWentworth Falls
20 Years 
Mt Riverview BushcareMt Riverview
15 Years 
Glenbrook Lagoon BushcareGlenbrook Lagoon
Valley Heights (Benoit Park) BushcareValley Heights
Long Angle Gully LandcareWarrimoo
North Lawson HomeschoolersLawson
5 Years 
Bush Place BushcareGlenbrook
Raymond Street BushcareBlaxland
Seed Collection GroupVarious
Celebrating 25 Years of Bushcare for Charles Darwin Bushcare Group CREDIT: BMCC
Celebrating 25 Years of Bushcare for Sublime Point Bushcare group CREDIT: BMCC

Individual Awards

The 2021 Bushcare Legend Rae Druitt at Wentworth Falls Lake with her Golden Trowel Trophy CREDIT: David Coleby
Previous Legend Ross Day passing on the Golden Trowel to Rae Druitt CREDIT: BMCC
Fiona Lumsden accepting the Masters Award from Mayor Greenhill CREDIT: BMCC
Recipient of the Hard Yakka Award – Ian Power onsite at Valleyview Swampcare CREDIT: BMCC
Mayor Greenhill with Ian Power accepting Hard Yakka Award CREDIT: BMCC
The Landcare Legend Vikki Willmott-Sharp with the Mayor CREDIT: BMCC
Ryan Kembrey receiving the Environmental Warrior award from Mayor Greenhill CREDIT: BMCC
Daemon Silk accepting the Junior Rian Strathdee Shield from Jasmine Payget CREDIT: BMCC

Popes Glen

Post fire Gorse treatment

By Steven Fleischmann

Following the 2019 / 2020 bushfires enormous loads of soil stored weed seed was stimulated in the Popes Glen creek riparian zone, creating dense thickets of mostly Gorse and some Broom which was stifling regrowth of ferns, Acacias, Eucalyptus and other native pioneers.

Recognising a potential to undo over 30 years of restoration work, BMCC and NPWS officers moved quickly to engage contractors, in house teams and volunteers to tackle the problem.

Post fire regrowth of weeds like Gorse and Broom can present a great opportunity because it can exhaust seed stored in the soil, making long term management of the area easier.

BMCC Officers James Bevan and Steven Fleischmann and NPWS Ranger Grant Purcell agreed that a series of combined Swampcare and Remote Bushcare days were necessary to support work being undertaken by contractors and in house teams.

30 Volunteers from the Swampcare, Remote, National Parks and Landcare networks meet on Saturday 10 April at Govetts leap carpark to be supervised by staff from BMCC and NPWS.

Deliberately keeping groups small, to be mindful of environmental sensitivities post fire, volunteer groups were assigned a supervisor, an area to work, inducted into safe working methods, provided with morning tea and lunch and then walked to the areas they were assigned.

Many of the larger plumes of Gorse have been sprayed and were either dead or dying back, however, all groups reported finding large volumes of Gorse and Broom with some of the larger ones being up to a meter tall.

Due to recent flooding, work was made significantly more difficult with large volume of sediment and vegetation that had been laid flat.

By the end of the day everyone was exhausted, so the cakes and tea provided were very gratefully received.

A follow up event is planned for spring to search for plants coming into sexual maturity. This is important because Gorse and Broom produce a lot of seed that last between 50 and 85 years in the soil, and we don’t want to lose the opportunity of exhausting the historic volume of weed seed stored in the soil.

This project was made possible with funding from the Greater Sydney Local Land Services.

Gecko Newsletter Spring Issue

Welcome to the 2021 Spring issue of the Gecko Newsletter.

In this issue read about:

  • Bushcare and COVID-19 update
  • The ‘Rights of Nature’ – an Australian first
  • Creating Habitat around The Gully Lake
  • Blue Mountains Aboriginal Advisory Council’s ‘Statement of Recognition and Commitment’ endorsed by Blue Mountains City Council
  • ABC Post-fire ongoing healing of country video for NAIDOC Week.
  • The Butterfly Effect
  • Farewell Malcolm
  • Project Plant It – 80 trees planted for koalas at deanei forest
  • Popes Glen Big Day Out – post-fire Gorse treatment
  • Repairing the Australian bush in the 1890s
  • Book review: “Twenty-Five Years of Bushcare’ Sublime Point Bushcare
  • Spring has Sprung – Photo competition
  • Vale Jeanell Buckley
  • Vale Fred Lyford
  • Bushcare Gecko is now online
  • Events Webinars: Eucalypts of the Blue Mountains, Launch of “Twenty-Five Years of Bushcare’ Sublime Point Bushcare

Bushcare activities paused until further notice

In response to escalating NSW Government restrictions due to the spread of COVID-19 in Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains City Council has temporarily closed facilities and some services. Council services were affected from 6pm on 26 June, 2021 and will last until current public health orders change, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the community and Staff.

Unfortunately Bushcare activities were suspended on Thursday, 24 June  and will remain so until current public health orders and Council advise safe resumption of services.  

Blue Mountains City Council will continue to follow the advice of NSW Health, and will continue monitor the situation.

For more information go to the NSW Health Website. Council has some useful resources links

Your Bushcare Officers will endeavour to contact you over this period so we maintain connectivity.

“The safety of people comes before everything and we need to do our bit in the Blue Mountains, to help stop the spread of the virus.” 

Gecko Winter Issue No. 85

  • Acknowledgement of Country
  • Saving Koalas – Science for Wildlife Project Updates (see links below)
  • Join Bushcare
  • Giant Dragonfly sighted by Council’s Natural Area Operations Team 
  • Giant Dragonfly – an ancient peat-swamp survivor in the Blue Mountains
  • Should we plant or not?
  • Regenerating a native ground layer from Trad at Bellata Park Bushcare
  • Congratulations Lis Bastian – Environmental Citizen of the Year Award
  • Native Plant Propagation Workshop
  • How did your environment fare last year? Australia’s Environmental 2020
  • Connecting Kids to Nature program update
  • Congratulations to our new Environmental Manager
  • Seniors Week Recognition Awards
  • Clean Up Australia Day in The Gully
  • What’s On
  • Save the date – Bushcare Picnic 30 October 

The Giant Dragonfly an ancient peat-swamp survivor in the Blue Mountains

Article by Dr Ian Baird

Petalura gigantea (Family Petaluridae), commonly known as the Giant Dragonfly or Southeastern Petaltail is a very large dragonfly which may have a wingspan up to 12.5 cm. It is recorded from peat swamps, bogs and seepages along the coast and ranges of NSW from near the Victorian border to around the Qld border. It is listed as Endangered in NSW under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, with habitat loss and degradation identified as the main threats. In addition to the large size and widely separated dark eyes, the species (and genus) is characterised by a long pterostigma (darkened cell) towards the end of the leading edge of the wings, and large, petal-shaped, anal appendages in adult males (Figure 1). Adult females lack the conspicuous anal appendages and are somewhat bulkier than males (Figure 2). These features distinguish it from other very large dragonflies such as Austrophlebia costalis. Various Bushcare and Swampcare sites in the Blue Mountains include peat swamp habitat of Giant Dragonflies.

The Petaluridae (“petaltails”) can be traced back to the late Jurassic and currently includes 11 known species around the world, including the endemic Australian genus Petalura with five species. The family is unique amongst dragonflies, in that larvae of nine of those species (including all Petalura species) excavate (sometimes complex) burrows which extend below the water table in peaty soils and which they occupy and maintain for their entire larval stage. The deepest burrow recorded for a petalurid worldwide was a P. gigantea burrow I investigated, which was 75 cm deep. These dragonflies have very long larval stages; extrapolation from recent studies suggests a larval stage of at least six years in P. gigantea, and possibly 10 or more in some situations. Larvae reach a length of 4.5-5 cm. Larvae feed on a range of small invertebrate prey within their burrows, including worms and nematodes, and are likely to act as ambush predators of larger prey from within their burrow entrances, feeding on above ground invertebrates, such as spiders, crickets, cockroaches, and perhaps small frogs, such as Crinia signifera. Larvae with submerged burrow openings in shallow pools can also prey upon other dragonfly or damselfly larvae within those pools. It is possible (but unknown) that they also leave their burrow openings temporarily to forage under suitable conditions, such as at night and during rain. I have recorded above ground chambers above their burrow openings, within litter layers and Sphagnum hummocks, which they may use for foraging purposes. Larvae leave their burrows and climb the nearest shrub or sedgeland vegetation to undergo emergence (ecdysis) to the adult stage, usually leaving their larval skin (exuvia) attached to their shrub or sedge emergence supports. The presence of exuviae confirms a site as a successful breeding site. Emergence may commence in early October in some years in some sites and extend into January, but normally appears to commence during November, at least in the Blue Mountains.

Adults live for a maximum of one summer flying season, which extends into February at least, with occasional late flying individuals having been observed on one occasion as late as mid-March in the Blue Mountains. Adults are predatory upon other flying insects during flight and consume a range of prey, including other dragonflies and damselflies, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, cicadas, wasps, and various types of flies, including crane flies. Adults typically return to a perch to consume prey. Adults spend much time perched in sedgeland and shrub vegetation, interspersed with generally short flights associated with foraging, mating, and in the case of males, territorial interactions. Adult females typically leave their larval swamp habitat following emergence and only return to a swamp habitat for breeding purposes. There is no courtship behaviour and mating generally occurs in swamp habitat with the pair perched in sedge or shrub vegetation. Egg-laying (ovipositing) involves insertion of the ovipositor into the wet, organic-rich soil substrate, into fissures in the substrate, or amongst or under live or decomposing plant material overlying the substrate. Females typically walk along the soil surface or perch within covering vegetation or on litter while ovipositing. They do not appear to oviposit into substrate covered by more than 1-2 mm of water. Most adults encountered in swamp breeding habitats are males, who are typically territorial in swamp habitat. Predation of adults by birds, skinks and spiders has been observed and dead individuals have been found in spider webs.

Petalura gigantea is considered to be an obligately groundwater-dependent species. Although the burrowing larval habit confers ecological benefits, including increased environmental stability, and some protection from the effects of fire, flood, drought and above ground predators, the species groundwater dependence and restriction to peat swamp habitats places it at increased risk in the event of any reduction in groundwater levels (e.g., due to groundwater abstraction, tunnel or pipeline boring, and longwall coal mining), more intense fire regimes, and the potential compounding effects of rapid climate change. Loss and degradation of habitat as a result of urban and transport infrastructure development, agriculture, forestry, and longwall coal mining continue to threaten the species through loss and degradation of habitat.

Figure 1. Male Petalura gigantea perched on razor sedge, Lepidosperma limicola, in a Blue Mountains Swamp. Note the conspicuous petal-shaped appendages at the end of the abdomen. Photo: Ian Baird

Figure 2. Female Petalura gigantea perched on Acacia ptychoclada in a Blue Mountains Swamp. Photo: Ian Baird