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Breakfast with the Birds 2017
The weather didn’t favour an early morning walk, but this did not deter most of the people who had registered for the event. 14 groups left on 5 different walks around the flats, many stopping at the Banyule Swamp to bird watch through the two telescopes stationed at the viewing site opposite Banyule Homestead.
Following the walk, groups discussed the species they had sighted over a delicious breakfast. The annual bird count was held and the count came to 77 species, 74 in Banyule and 3 extras in Warringal (Long-billed Corella, Masked Lapwing and Crimson Rosella).
Thanks must go to all Birdlife group leaders, Birdlife Australia’s Janet Hand for her organisation of the leaders and Banyule staff for their efforts in staffing one of the telescopes, preparing the breakfast and cleaning up afterwards. Next year’s event will be held on the 4th Sunday of October, which is Sunday 28th October 2018.
Spring Outdoors 2017
Highlights of Banyule’s program included the Bee Keeping workshop at Darebin Parklands, the Hollows for Habitat workshop and Chelsworth Park Nature Play space launch and of course, Breakfast with the Birds at Banyule Flats.
Banyule’s program finished with the free family Malahang Festival on Sunday 19th November at Malahang Reserve in Heidelberg West.
Tree Access training for community members and Banyule staff
The training enables the participants to safely hang nesting boxes that they have made in the trees of Rosanna Parklands for native birds and animals.
Our native birds and animals like to nest and breed in tree hollows. Unfortunately, due to urban development, a lot of our large, old hollow bearing trees have been cleared from the landscape. Hollows take over 100 years to form – our animals such as sugar gliders, parrots, possums and kookaburras can’t wait that long for a home, so the nesting boxes act as substitute dwellings.
A follow up training revision session to guarantee participants were using the equipment properly and following all safety procedures was held in the Rosanna Parklands on November 2nd. Climbing trees with tools and nesting boxes is a tricky task, so participants buddied up and worked together to ensure safe working practices, with arborist Mark Cashmore on hand to offer advice and tips. The group secured seven nesting boxes in the park in a morning’s work.
The Friends of Salt Creek and Rosanna Parklands will monitor the nesting boxes as unwanted tenants such as Indian Myna birds and bees can tend to move in. They will record the native animals using the boxes and perform any maintenance work required.
If you are interested in joining the Friends of Salt Creek and associated Parklands, contact Louise Muller on firstname.lastname@example.org
Vic Health & Banyule's Walk to School Day
Fifteen local primary schools registered formally to take part in the initiative with many children also taking part informally.
An incentive of $200 was offered to each school which registered to undertake a sustainable event linked to the Walk to School program. Some schools undertook a community brunch; others purchased gardening tools for their veggie patches, and there were many fruit breakfasts/lunches.
This year, Council launched an individualised walk/ride safely to school map for every primary school which have been really well received.
On the last day of the Walk to School month, a mass walk was organised by Viewbank Primary School. Over 400 students, parents, siblings, teachers and pet animals walked from Price Park to the school grounds, and what a sight it was!
How many students walked? The numbers are still being compiled but we know that we topped last year’s figure of 3,485 students walking and 52,000 walks.
The Centre Ivanhoe (former Heidelberg Town Hall) is a heritage listed building that opened in 1937 and is a fine example of the art deco style of architecture.
Banyule Council embarked on an ambitious project to reduce the energy usage of the lighting in this building in late 2017. Due to the nature of the heritage listing and décor, careful consideration had to be given to the type, style and colour (rendition) of replacement lighting.
Almost 1,700 LED lights will be used to replace a wide range of lighting types throughout the Centre, from fluorescent tubes, to halogen downlights and exterior floodlights.
The aim of replacing the lights is twofold, firstly to reduce running costs of both electricity and maintenance and secondly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (by around 50% from lighting), whilst still maintaining the look, ambience and heritage requirements of the Centre. Payback period is projected to be around 2½ years.
Saving Species at Glen Katherine Primary School
At the beginning of 2017 Glen Katherine Primary School was awarded a grant from the Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning to work on a project to propagate two threatened species of indigenous plants.
The plants names are the Velvet Apple-Berry and Pale-Flowered Crane’s Bill Geranium. They are both native to Australia and indigenous to the Eltham area.
The geranium has tiny, purple flowers and only 10 centimetres tall, unlike the South African geraniums that people grow in their gardens. The Velvet Apple-Berry is a small little plant that has straight leaves that are furry to touch. The pods are furry and purple, holding the seeds inside them. The Wurundjeri people ate the berries as a source of bushtucker. The plants gave a food source to the local Aboriginals as well as native animals such as bees and other insects. The Geranium has a potato like root that the Aboriginal people cooked and mashed to make pancakes.
These plants are threatened because there are not many left due to their habitats being taken away for houses and roads. They live in bushy areas on slopes, where water runs down but they also get some sunlight. Rabbits are also eating them as well as introduced weeds choking them and stopping them from spreading.
Throughout the year students have been working with ecologists and Banyule Environmental Sustainability Education Officer to take cuttings and seeds, and propagating them in our shed to grow more of them. Only people with a special permit can take cuttings, as they are threatened.
To date there are about 100 of each plant growing in our propagation area at school. The geraniums are flowering and we are collecting the seeds for future germination. The seeds planted from the Velvet Apple Berry are also being transplanted into tubes for future growth. The plants will now be monitored and maintained over the summer break, with hopes of planting some out in Autumn 2018 around our school grounds and possibly back into some local reserves.
The project has captivated the interest of the school community with ponderings of why we should care about such weedy looking plants into deeper understandings of how everything in our ecosystems is connected.
Glen Katherine looks forward to continuing on with the project into the future and educating the local community on the two plant species.
Bush Crew Diaries
Banyule Bushland Management Unit Yarra 1 crew, with the help of the Friends of Andrew Yandell Habitat Reserve, has continued thinning works at Yandell’s to help improve habitat for the Eltham Copper Butterfly whilst also protecting the life-cycle of significant plant species that occur in this piece of remnant bushland.
The Yarra 1 and Plenty River crews conducted a small burn in an area that is prime real estate for the Eltham Copper Butterfly but hasn’t been used by them for many years, most likely due to mid-storey closure.
The burn will help to open up the site, giving the Butterfly better flight paths, encourage the Notoncus ants back in to the area, a species critical to the Butterfly’s existence, and promote Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa) regeneration, which is the only host plant of the caterpillar.
Yarra 2 have been undertaking a new monitoring project at St Helena Bush Reserve with help from the Friends of St Helena. The project involved identifying and recording all species present in the monitoring sites helping us improve our identification of species in the reserve.
Recently, while hand weeding at a revegetated entrance plot at Creekbend Reserve in Rosanna, we encountered a blue tongue lizard sheltered by a Poa tussock, we have spotted blue tongues in this plot before which acts as a refuge for them. It's great to see them enjoying the habitat.
Last week we were brush cutting the edges of the goat track by the Yarra River and spotted our resident wallaby, we quickly switched off the machine and watched each other for a minute or so until the wallaby bounded off toward Baileys Billabong.
Most of the work undertaken by the Green Army to date has focussed on the Banyule Northern Grassland Reserve where they have been responsible for controlling weeds (mainly annual grasses) through a combination of brushcutting and hand-weeding. They have also helped to increase floral diversity throughout the site by undertaking planting of over 600 plants including a few species which had previously become locally extinct within the reserve such as the Cullen tenax (Tough Scurf-Pea) and Glycine tabacina (Vanilla Glycine). We have been thoroughly impressed by the enthusiasm of the group and their willingness and desire to learn in what is a largely unfamiliar work environment for most of them. Their resilience has certainly been tested with the seemingly early start to summer and we commend the group for persisting through the uncomfortably warm conditions. Due to these conditions, we anticipate the Green Army helping out with watering the numerous sites which saw plants put in the ground this year to ensure the highest survival rate possible.
Elsewhere on the creek, we have been privileged to see the range of indigenous flora flowering over the last few months. In just the last week, we have noticed a few of our River Red Gums beginning to flower which have attracted a range of pollinating insects such as native bees and ants.
On a final note, we’d like to remind residents to be aware of snakes along the Darebin Creek Trail heading into the summer months. We have so far spotted one tiger snake and one baby brown snake along the creek. We recommend dog owners to keep them on a lead especially when walking alongside the creek itself.