News – February, 2014

 The Land Adjacent to 60 Main Street – Woody Weed Removal

  • One of the challenges of managing a park like the Creeklands is dealing with shared responsibilities.  For instance, Melbourne Water is generally responsible for the creek and its banks, while Council (advised by Committee) is responsible for the remainder of the park.
  • A side benefit of our winning the Melbourne Water grant reported in our last news has been that Melbourne Water was alerted to the need to remove woody weeds along the northern creek bank on the land adjacent to 60 Main Street.

TLA60Main Street from bridge

  • The effect has been a spectacular opening up of the site – especially highlighting the indigenous grasses.  Please don’t be alarmed that the effects are too drastic.  Both Council and Committee (with grant funding) are gearing up to plant out the site once conditions improve.  We aim that it will look more like the best parts of the south bank of the creek opposite.  Many more than 1,000 plants will be planted in that area.
  • A good definition of weeds is that they are plants growing in the wrong place.  Woody weeds are invasive trees and shrubs growing in the wrong place.  Melbourne Water has removed live and dead privet, poplar and prunus plants– giving existing indigenous flora such as the Prickly Currant-bush (Coprosma quadrifida) quite a boost.

Autumn and Spring Bird Surveys

  • One for your diaries – the 2014 Bird Surveys will be conducted on Saturday, 26th April and Saturday, 18th October 2014 at the earlier start time of 07:30.
  •  Both dates have been confirmed with our expert group leaders – Pat Bingham (Birdlife Australia) and Ian Moodie (ParksWide).
  • Click here for more information on our Bird Surveys.

Good Neighbours

  • Our park, not only provides a wonderful resource for recreation, but also provides a wildlife corridor linking Blackburn Lake with areas further west.  One significant problem our park has, is that it is very narrow in places – in fact, probably too narrow to adequately meet its purposes.  To be effective, the park therefore relies on its neighbours – to buffer and extend the park a little for people, fauna and flora.
  • This not only includes canopy trees on nearby private land (which the proposed new zonings and Significant Landscape Overlay covering some of the park’s neighbouring properties seek to protect), but also should include compatible understory vegetation and softening property boundaries and the visual interface with the park.
  • Although many neighbours respect the park, there are unfortunately a few who do the wrong thing – like throwing green waste such as lawn clippings and palm fronds into the park.  A good counter-example of neighbours extending the park is that two Friends, Pennie and Nicola, have supplied photos of  Tawny Frogmouths sheltering in their garages during the 40 degrees+ weather.  Unfortunately for their usual residents, our indigenous trees will drop leaves to reduce water loss when stressed by high temperatures.  This survival strategy reduces the cover available for indigenous fauna when they most need it…
tawny - Myrtle Street tawny - JeffereyStreet
  • Please do not be alarmed if your garage is chosen as a refuge.  Those birds are harmless to anything bigger than a small rodent and will move on once recovered.
  • Nicola also reported that she also unwittingly hosted a small bat in a room occupied by her teenage daughter and several friends – which was certainly not ideal for either party!
  • The local indigenous nurseries (Greenlink and Bungalook) can help with suitable plants and advice if you are interested in planting suitable species at your place.

Kalang Park Pavilion Upgrade – Update

  • Council’s project officers have met with Committee representatives at last to enlighten us about the proposed upgrade which the sporting clubs have wanted.  Built in 1965, the pavilion does not comply with current requirements and standards such as disabled access.
  • The plan is to double its size with work proposed to start mid next year using materials that will blend into the area.  External toilets and drinking taps are being considered for the convenience of all park users.

Pollution in the Creek – Update:  Where did the fish go?

  • Several Friends expressed concern about sporadic discolouration in the creek in January.  Also, Yarra Valley Water workers were very active along the park containing a sewerage pollution event in the creek.  Please see here for the original reports.
  • The goldfish and three carp, formerly resident in the pond at the Laurel Grove bridge and popular with some Friends and kids, appear to have either moved on or were victims of the pollution and/or subsequent clean-up…

Whitehorse Housing and Neighbourhood Character Review – Update

  • The latest and final stage of Council’s Whitehorse Housing and Neighbourhood Character Review’s public consultation is open until 14th March, 2014 for comment.  The result will shape Council’s final submission to Government in relation to the new planning zones which should take effect from 1st July, 2014.  Responses are to be via an on-line or hardcopy form – no late responses will be accepted.
  • Committee has concerns that Council has reneged on earlier promises to make more criteria mandatory (such as site coverage limits) to protect our local environment – the existing “guidelines” and “policies” being ineffective in the past – usually having little weight in VCAT hearings.
  • Other issues are that canopy trees are to be required – but not indigenous ones, building heights will be allowed to be higher than the tree canopy, nothing addresses the inappropriate but near-standard practice of “moonscaping” vacant blocks and three-storey constructions will be allowed in one “Bush Suburban” category.
  • One frightening possibility is that the State Government may not approve Whitehorse’s new zonings in time for implementation on 1/7/2014.  If that happens, all residential properties could be deemed General Residential (GRZ) – effectively wiping out protection until such time as the new schemes are approved.
  • We recommend you assess your own situation by supplying your address to the http://www.ourhousingfuture.com.au/ website and also consider both the Creeklands park and municipality more generally.  Record your opinion – remember: this is almost certainly your last chance to influence Council and the future shape of Whitehorse for some time.

Plant of the Month

  • Plant of the Month is Hop Goodenia (Goodenia ovata). This is a tough bright green shrub with small yellow flowers in spring and summer.  This shrub coped best with the 40 degrees+ weather.   There are several good examples around the Furness Street bridge.

goodenia

  • It’s easy to grow – a good garden plant that responds well to regular clipping. It also offers good protection for small birds.

Weed of the Month (new prize category)

  • Weed of the month is Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) – which originally comes to us from Japan.  It is a vigorous scrambler that can smother indigenous ground cover, strangle standing plants and is hard to eradicate.  The picture below (taken by Friend Jan) shows Graeme, one of our Monday weeders, in waders immersed in an in-depth weeding experience removing a Honeysuckle infestation coming down from the top of the creek bank in Furness Park – while also collecting rubbish.

graeme2

Sightings

  • There have been several interesting recent bird sightings in the area:
    • Rufous Fantail
    • Grey Fantail
    • Eastern Spinebill
    • Gang-Gang Cockatoo
    • Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo
    • An immature Straw-necked Ibis  – this is a first for the Creeklands since records began and has been added to our bird lists.
mrs gang gangThe picture shows a female Gang Gang Cockatoo waving “hello” near the Furness St Bridge.
  • Birdwatchers have told us that, with all the wetlands to the north of Victoria drying out, a number of species have been sighted much further south than normal in Melbourne and environs.  The Straw-necked Ibis would be one of those refugees.
  • The cockatoos and fantails are regular visitors.
  • Council is dealing with active fox dens in the park also.
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