More than a year ago, a friendly neighbour to the Else-Mitchell Park Bushcare site kindly offered the Bushcare Group some Eucayptus deanei seedlings to raise and plant into the Reserve. The seedlings had appeared in a large pot from a very large and beautiful Eucalyptus deanei tree in the neighbour’s front garden – a remnant tree from the original forest of the area. Mike Purtell, co-ordinator and founding member of the Else-Mitchell Park Bushcare Group, agreed to raise the seedlings to a larger size for future planting.
Meeting the neighbour some time later, I suggested he join us in planting the juvenile trees back into the Reserve, which he thought was a great idea! But then I thought, having a number of plants available, why not invite all the surrounding neighbours.
So, the Bushcare Group and six neighbouring families had a very enjoyable morning planting trees in various parts of the site – each family planting a tree each. We then had a special morning tea and chat.
So the Reserve now has more trees and the local neighbours and the Bushcare Group members had a chance to catch up! With another neighbour, Mike is now trying to organise an interview with the neighbour who provided the seedlings to record the memories of living in the local area for historic reference, with particular regard to ongoing changes at Else-Mitchell Park.
Is this a Weed – Elderberry Panax (Polyscias sambucifolia)? By Karen Hising
One of the most common questions I am asked as a Bushcare Officer: “Is this a weed?” And quite often the person asking the question is referring to the native Elderberry Panax (Polyscias sambucifolia).
Polyscias sambucifolia is a variable small to large shrub or sometimes even a compact tree. The leaves are compound, with clusters of succulent bluish-grey fruit in Summer.
An important colonising species in regenerating areas, it can appear as a single plant or in small dense forests before other species have the opportunity to regenerate. At Blackheath Centenary Reserve, where all large shrubs and trees have been removed for powerline safety, swathes of Polyscias have appeared over time and have shaded out groundlayer and grassy weeds. Fortunately, it has not grown too tall to warrant removal under the powerlines – yet!
This plant also provides feeding opportunities for local wildlife. Birds enjoy feasting on the fruit, which is how it is widely propagated. The Elderberry Panax Leaf Roller (Cryptoptila australiana) can infest the whole plant in swathes of webbing. The larvae live in a communal shelter made of leaves joined with silk and feed on the foliage. They are dark-brownish green, with orange spots and white hairs. Pupation occurs within the larval shelter. The plant can look quite bedraggled from the impacts of these insects, but they generally bounce back once the caterpillars finalise their lifecycle to moths and move on. Birds may also enjoy feeding on these larvae.
Whilst it may not be considered a particularly attractive plant (particularly when covered in webbing), it can be an important part of some ecosystems.
Polyscias – from the Greek word, poly, meaning many, and skias, meaning shade, possibly referring to the shade from many leaves; and sambucifolia – referring to leaves which resemble Sambucus, the Elderberry.
There is some debate pronouncing the genus name – poly-sy-as or pol-is-kias
Winter is not the time for hunkering down for Antechinus!
By Anne Carey
Winter is the season for the
once-in-a-lifetime mating ritual of the Antechinus. Males die after a focussed
and frenzied two week period of searching for mates and mating. Deceased males
are sometimes found along walking trails so keep an eye out and try to identify
any species you encounter. There are currently 11 recognised species of
Antechinus of which three are encountered in the Blue Mountains. These are the
Brown antechinus (Antechinus stuartii), Dusky Antechinus Antechinus mimetes mimetes [swainsonii], and Yellow-footed Antechinus (Antechinus
flavipes). These species can be readily identified with a bit of
experience and a good field guide so take some photos if you encounter any and
ask Council for help with ID if required.
Often called “Marsupial mice” these little hunters are actually in the same family as the Spotted-tailed Quoll, and like their larger cousin, are fierce predators hunting, usually at night but sometimes during the day, for insects, spiders, centipedes and sometimes small reptiles and frogs. Antechinus shelter in hollows, burrows and fallen logs during the day and good refugia is essential for their persistence in our reserves.
Upper Kedumba Bushcare group hosted 35 Volunteers from Garguree swampcare and Friends Of Katoomba falls groups and the broader BC community in our annual Kedumba Catchment Gully get-together.
David King welcoming the group onto country
It was a great success, with a wonderful community feel and a great boost to The Upper Kedumba Bushcare site, with so many enthusiastic and committed helping hands we also had 5 new volunteers join in.
After a full work morning we indulged in a wonderful shared feast and heard from Eric Mahony about works in the catchment and how our workdays positively impact on it and Jane about our Bushcare native bee metropolis and who we would likely see using the bee hotels.
We were working on 4 different site components, giving a variety of work options to the volunteers so they could join in with tasks to challenge them and also tasks where they would feel familiar and relaxed.
Our work day consisted of
1 – Continuing to create a wetland soak in the low lying section of Upper Kedumba, to change the environmental conditions currently present, trying to create a wetter area hoping to diminish annual grasses and create more habitat for aquatic critters, whilst slowing the flow of the water in big rain events capturing it on site , and stripping nutrients from it.
In Feb/March we hope to plant this area out with Juncus and other sedges
Installation of water detention devices
2 – Continuing on with a creation of a mulch path through the site – The long-term vision is to create a site where local community will feel inclined to walk through it and stop and find out about local native bees, fauna and habitat creation and why these things are needed and how important they are in our local environment.
3- Removal of small and large privets in bands across the slope – this work will be supported by a day of contracting works in the next 3 months and continued planting of endemic species.
4- Removal of Montbretia from a drainage line.
Thank you to all who came along and helped with our ongoing Bushcare works
By Jane Anderson
From the 1st of July 2017 the NSW Government has replaced the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 with the Biosecurity Act 2015. Under the Biosecurity Act 2015, the Blue Mountains City Council, as the Local Control Authority, has a legal obligation to manage the biosecurity risk posed or likely to be posed by reducing the impacts of Priority Weeds.
WHAT IS BIOSECURITY?
Biosecurity refers to the protection of native plant communities; reducing the risk to human health: and the risk to agricultural production, from invasive weeds.
WHAT DOES THE NEW BIOSECURITY ACT MEAN FOR ME?
Under the Biosecurity Act, landowners have a responsibility to control the risk that Priority Weeds on their property pose to neighbouring bushland and properties.
Residents will see a change in the terminology used, for example, the term Noxious Weed will be replaced with Priority Weeds or Biosecurity Matter, and weed notices/orders will be issued as Biosecurity Directions under the Biosecurity Act. There are also some changes target invasive plants identified as Priority Weeds compared to previous Noxious Weeds lists.
Therefore the Noxious Weeds Classification of individual weeds is no longer correct.
Will the Biosecurity Act change the way Council manages weeds on private property?
No. Council’s Urban Weeds Program and the process for inspecting private properties for invasive weeds will continue unchanged. Council will also maintain its current approach to education and enforcement relating to invasive weeds. Council will maintain the current process for issuing Weed Control Notices. The main differences will be the terminology used and that Orders will be issued under the Biosecurity Act. They will be known as Biosecurity Directions.
For further information on Priority Weeds in the Blue Mountains please download the Priority Weeds Information Booklet here;
Greater Glider found on the Mt Wilson Fauna Survey
Last weekend we had the Mt Wilson Fauna Survey Workshop and Spotlight. We were incredibly lucky to see three greater gliders, a threatened species and the Anabat detector also recorded a threatened species, the Eastern Bentwing Bat!
Despite the cold, we had a great turnout of people and animals…..
Do you have a swamp in your backyard or interested in swamp restoration?
Then come join us for this very special event in Hazelbrook, where you will learn the basic principles about swamp restoration whilst giving this swamp a helping hand.
The swamp is located off Rocklea Street, which is the very north end of the urban area and is still in its early stages of being restored, so there is plenty of primary work to be done on a variety of weeds – Erica, buddleia, privet, crofton weed.
A FREE delicious lunch and morning tea has been kindly donated by Hominy Bakery.
Bookings are essential so please RSVP via the link on this page or contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org. by Thursday 20 September.
Come join your local Bushcare Officer for a FREE, fun event for all ages in Gloria Park, Hazelbrook.
Where you will go on a discovery walk and talk, learn about local plants and animals and give the site a helping hand by doing some weeding at the same time. This is the third ‘Weed, Walk and Talk’ session to be held in Hazelbrook. Bookings are essential so please RSVP via the link on this page or contact Stephanie at email@example.com.
Following up on the great success of the Native bee hotel making workshop at the annual Bushcare picnic in April, Bushcare is launching “The Pollinators” group web page … an online tool for everyone to get involved and post what pollinators are in the hotels, any information you have or would like and gain access to recources and events about pollinators – bees, flies, butterflies, birds …
The coordinator for this page is Phil Nelson, I think you will all remember him from the day – very busy with a drill in hand.
So send your information to him via email and he will upload it to the page.
Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii Katoomba Falls photo courtesy Ian Brown
Protecting the Wentworth Falls population of the endangered Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii from the very invasive Montbretia was the name of the game for our Jamison Creek Catchment Care Day this year. It was well received by some keen Bushcare volunteers, BMCC Bushland Operations Team (Bushcare Officers and Bush Regeneration Officers) and the NPWS Ranger for the Jamison Valley.
Having 2 extra Bush Regeneration team members involved for the first time meant we could divide into smaller groups and cover more of the creekline as well as share information about the management of the whole area while we worked.
One group met at Wentworth Falls Car Park, walked to the top of Wentworth Falls and then worked upstream (wading where necessary) to follow up woody weeds in the area worked last year.
The other groups met at the corner of Jamison and Fletcher streets, kitted up and after a short walk down to the creek, with some walking further down the Charles Darwin Track, started target ting Montbretia around the pools and cascades and all woody weeds and the along the track and creek banks. All three groups re-united for lunch and informative talks on the creek bank.
Montbretia is slow going so although the distance covered wasn’t huge, we removed lots of corms and enjoyed the beautiful weather and surroundings while we worked. There was lots of opportunity to discuss the creek condition, learn about the endangered Dwarf Mountain Pine (Pherosphaera fistzgeraldii).
Montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora) corms
Montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora) flowers
Another target weed in this catchment is Erica lusitanica (Spanish or Portugese heath, often referred to simply as “Erica”, a woody shrub which has a similar appearance to native tea trees so is often mistaken for a native. Both Montbretia and Erica have the potential to establish in the rocky crevices on the cliffline adjacent to the waterfalls – taking up the space where Dwarf Mountain Pine grows. Annual Catchment Care Days are a valuable contribution to the ongoing work of Council’s Bushland Operations Team, contractors and the volunteer Bushcare Groups. Charles Darwin, Jamieson St Landcare, Wentworth Falls Lake, Water Nymphs Dell and Valley of the Waters groups were all represented this year and together we not only dealt with Montbretia and Erica but as Tutsan, Japanese honeysuckle and Small-leaf Privet as well.
Jenny Hill from Council’s Healthy Waterways Team delivered a very informative talk about the issues affecting the water quality of the catchment and the work underway to improve stormwater management.
Good food, good company and good work resulted in a very enjoyable and productive morning – made possible through funding from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage “Saving Our Species” program. A huge thank you to SoS and the dedicated volunteers of Wentworth Falls!