Park News – September, 2014

Spring Bird Count

chestnut teal chicks and parents

How many ? Chestnut teal chicks and parents – Blacks Walk

  • One for your diaries:  our Spring Bird Count is planned for Saturday, 18th October starting at 07:30 sharp.  We’ll send you a reminder closer to the date…   If you can’t make our day, Blackburn Lake’s will be the week before (Saturday, 11th October – also 07:30, meeting at the Visitor Centre).
  • Friends are most welcome and no experience is necessary.  You should wear suitable clothing/footwear and bring cameras and binoculars if you wish.  Also, please join us for a morning cuppa and snack afterwards when the results are consolidated.
  • For the inexperienced, it is an interesting and educational morning – revealing the park’s birdlife as a “hidden dimension” most of us are unaware of.   Typically, our experts are able to locate species (invisible to us) through their knowledge of bird calls and habits.  It also offers the opportunity to ask questions of the experts.
  • Click here for more information on our Bird Surveys.

Working Bee 28/9/2014

  • Fourteen people attended our latest working bee in Furness Park near the end of Gardenia Street – we  welcomed some new faces including a young cub who, not only learnt planting techniques and pump operation, but also collected a large bag of rubbish from the creek bank.  We wish him all the best towards gaining his Grey Wolf badge.
  • More than 300 plants were added to this important bird-hide area.  For the first time for a seemingly very long time, it was HOT work digging in the sun and the soil was hard as rock in some places.
  • Our next working bee will be Sunday, October 19th 09:00-12:00 – at the eastern end of the park near the corner of Blackburn Road and Heath Street.  We’ll focus on weeding – having learned our lesson!

60 Main Street at VCAT

  • The VCAT hearing took place on 12/9/2014.  Mr Hewet (Senior Member, VCAT) stated he would undertake a site visit before making his decision.
  • The Chairman of the Blackburn Creeklands Advisory Committee, several community members, representatives of both Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society and Blackburn Village Residents Group spoke as objectors in support of Council (and the Blackburn Creeklands park!) in opposition to the developer.   Several more community members attended in support.

60 Main Street

  • We are hopeful of a positive result which must be imminent.

New Residential Zones for Whitehorse

  • Planning Minister Guy approved Council’s residential zones on 12/9/2014 and Amendment C160 to the Whitehorse Planning Scheme will be gazetted shortly.
  • There was no information on what changes, if any, were required by Mr Guy’s department – we trust the Creeklands park remains fully protected by the zoning of neighbouring housing.

Tree Near Bowls Club

brittle gum cabled

  • Looks can be deceptive – Council wants to cut down a Brittle Gum growing in a small plot in the south east corner of the car park adjacent to the Bowls Club.
  • Apparently, the tree is infected with Bracket fungus and Council has safety concerns about the tree given its location.
  • The tree was given a stay of execution last year, following Committee representations, when it was “cabled” to support a threatened limb.  Brittle Gums are indigenous to the NSW Central and Southern Tablelands and, as you probably guessed, they do have brittle wood…

Joey Scouts Planting Exercise (Near Bowls Club Car Park)

  • Also near the car park adjacent to the Bowls Club, Committee worked with Council to assist Joeys in a planting exercise adjacent to the car park (and not threatened by the brittle Gum!).
  • The work went very well – each Joey was accompanied by a parent and the Council team was very well prepared.

Art Installation

  • Eastlink users and viewers of the ABC TV series “Utopia” will know how fashionable “art installations” are.
  • Not to be outdone, the Creeklands now boasts its first Art Installation – a  giant teapot which suddenly “appeared” about a week or so ago between the Guides Hall and the track up Blacks Walk hill.
  • It used to be an ugly concrete drain pillar/cover that stood out like a sore thumb – now it looks like this:

teapot

  • Actually – our art installation is audio-visual – if you get close enough, you can hear the teapot bubbling away (actually Blackburn Creek flowing underground  “inside”).  Warning: please don’t drink the tea!

Kalang Oval

  • A synthetic pitch has been installed in preparation for the cricket season as per current works at the MCG.  Some mysterious disposal of the remnant left-overs  of a roll of new turf from re-grassing around the artificial turf also seems to have taken place…
  • We are not aware of any further news on the new pavilion – except that we’ve noticed that investigations as to the impact on trees in a neighbouring  property have been undertaken.
  • The next major step is expected to be a further round of community consultation.

Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path – Impacts on the Creeklands ?

  • VicRoads recently opened concept plans for the Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path for community input.   The path approximately follows the railway line – in Blackburn, it may pass through Laburnum Reserve and then run along Laburnum Street and, possibly, South Parade via Elmore Walk.
  • Committee has monitored these developments  following an earlier, impractical suggestion that the bike path might feed off Middleborough Rd from the Gardiners Creek trail through Blacks Walk, across the Garie Street bridge and then northwards to connect with the proposed Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path.
  • Note that all paths within the Creeklands are pedestrian paths – though cyclists are welcome to use them too.  However, because they are not dedicated or shared bike paths, cyclists should be prepared to travel slower to accommodate pedestrians, children and dogs (on lead!) also enjoying the park.

Parkland Community Forum

  • Several committee members represented the Blackburn Creeklands at the annual Parkland Community Forum on the 9th September.  This Whitehorse Council event keeps advisory committees up to date and provides a networking opportunity for the various park committees.
  • The event usually features interesting guest speakers and this year’s was no exception – Dean Platt and Liz O’Donoughue from Tree Wishes spoke on how Whitehorse’s bushland parks should look – both ecologically and culturally – predicated on the over-simplification that most of Whitehorse was originally “Valley Heathy Forest”.  The latter is technically known as an Ecological Vegetation Class (EVC).
  • Actually, we are very fortunate in the Creeklands to have several EVCs represented in such a small area – thanks to our creek: Swampy Riparian Woodland, Riparian Forest, Swamp Scrub and possibly others – “riparian” meaning along the banks near the water.
  • The speakers decried the over-concern of  fire-risk in small parks and the importance of weeding and maintaining habitat – eg leaving logs and dead trees (“stags”).

lorikeets and stag

  • Sadly, only about 2% of the original bushland areas still exist within the municipality – Whitehorse now being very highly urbanised.  This underscores the need for us to protect and enhance the little we have left!

Corridor news:  Healesville Freeway Reserve

  • Speaking of the lack of open space in Whitehorse, the Friends of the Healesville Freeway Reserve (Whitehorse) invite you to attend a Community Forum at Bellbird Dell, Vermont South (Melway 62 J6) on Sunday 26 October 2014 at 11am at the George Road end of the Bellbird Dell.
  • The Healesville Freeway Reserve is not in Healesville !  – it’s nearby… and encompasses the Bellbird Dell park and Nunawading Community Garden amongst others.
  • The aims of the forum are for the community to:
    • Hear the policies of the major political parties on the future for the Healesville Freeway Reserve and the response from Council / Councillors.
    • Have a Q&A where the community is able question the candidates.
    • View displays of other successful public open space schemes (available from 10:00).
  • Click here for more information.  The forum is sponsored by our indigenous nurseries and the Blackburn and District Tree Society – amongst several  other local park and  conservation groups.

Plant of the Month

  • Plant of the Month is the Prickly Tea-tree – Leptospermum continentale.
    This is an erect 1-2m x 1-2m shrub with prickly dark green leaves and covered in white flowers from Spring to Summer.   Here is an example in Furness Park near where our last working bee was conducted:

leptospermum continentale

Weed of the Month

  • Weed of the Month is Wandering Creeper/Trad – Tradescantia fluminensis.
  • Wandering Trad is an environmental weed which has invaded several areas within the park – and also many home gardens.
  • It tends to proliferate along waterways as broken plant fragments readily take root in moist soil.  It also spreads easily from garden waste dumped (illegally) in the park.
  • We have had some success in controlling its inexorable march up the creek banks by raking it up and rolling it onto itself – leaving it to smother itself and (hopefully) die:

wandering trad

  • Our noticeboard currently contains a Who’s Who display of weeds in the park for your information.

Sightings

There have been some interesting sightings in the area:

  • Chestnut Teal chicks (very rare in the Creeklands – see picture at the start of this edition of the web news), Pacific Black Duck chicks, Gang-Gang Cockatoos, King Parrots, Pied Cormorant back at Laurel Grove bridge and Buff-banded Rail (unsighted but heard).
  • Fox with possum dinner (nearby in Jefferey Street).
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