Autumn Bird Count Report
- Our Autumn and Spring Bird Counts have been regular and much anticipated special events since 2012. This year’s Autumn survey was conducted last Saturday morning (23/4) on a great day for bird-watching – except that the overcast conditions dulled the birds’ colours somewhat.
- The results, including some photos, are available here. There was a good turnout of people, young and old, with several new faces, despite it being a public holiday weekend.
- The number of bird species found was around the usual 30. The most unusual sighting was a small flock of (evidently lost) Cattle Egrets flying overhead at the start of the walk – they’ve never been recorded here before!
- The Cattle Egret is a stocky white bird with solid yellow-red bill – a bit smaller than the White-Faced Heron we often see. Its name comes from its relationship with cattle and horses – especially its habit of eating ticks and flies off their backs (you scratch my back…). We’ve added this bird to our records which go back to the mid 1980s. If you’d like more information on the 90+ birds we’ve logged over the thirty years, please click here.
- Otherwise, there were impressive displays by flocks of King-Parrots with several other species in abundance including three pairs of Tawny Frogmouths and many more Musk Lorikeets than usual (including the discovery of nests). They look rather like the more common Rainbow Lorikeets but have a short, stumpy tail – the best way to identify them flying overhead. As usual, the incidence of introduced species was quite low.
- Our Friends Mike and Michelle invited us to see a pair Tawny Frogmouths at their place – which turned out to be unnecessary given we found the three pairs in the park. However, they also have Kookaburras in residence – one of the unexpected no-shows on the day. Mike and Michelle live in the corridor near the park and clearly must be providing an attractive environment – especially for the larger birds. Mike has promised to let neighbours know not to leave rat baits etc out where the birds might find them!
- Sadly, we have found three dead Tawny Frogmouths this year – two on the northern bank of the park near Main Street. We’re guessing – but the fatalities could be due to poison baits… or maybe the birds eating poisoned animals. Or might it be the cat that’s often seen in the park there?
Furness Park Regeneration Project – Work has Started
- As previously reported, a recent Bushland Monitoring report for Council highlighted the presence of remnant indigenous grasses in Furness Park near the corner of Heath and Main Streets.
- We are pleased to report that our Maintenance Team has commenced the painstaking work of weeding the area. This work has consisted mostly of removing foreign grasses such as Kikuyu and Couch which have mildly infested the indigenous wallaby grasses.
- At the moment, there are logs surrounding the area – vaguely reminiscent of an encirclement of covered wagons fending off Red Indians!
- Committee is meeting with Council shortly to formalise the area and discuss the fate of two trees the Council has some safety concerns about.
First Working Bee for the Year!
- Our first working bee for the year will be Saturday, 14/5 from 09:00-12:00 at the bottom of Furness Street. We’ll mostly be planting.
- NB: We thought we’d trial a Saturday working bee as an experiment to test whether that suited some of our Friends better than Sundays. The rest of our Community Working Bees for the year are planned for Sundays as usual.
Toilet Available at Kalang Pavilion
- Council has advised that the external (unisex/disabled) toilet at the Kalang Pavilion is open as a public toilet on a trial basis for 12 months during daylight hours.
- This is the only public facility in the entire park. It is located on the southern side of the pavilion at the eastern end facing the road.
- Main Street Bridge works update: Council has let us know on 8/4 that a quote has been received for the hand-rail changes and work should start in about a fortnight. So, perhaps work is imminent?
- Once the bridge’s rails are installed, we’ll be able to plant out the NE corner of the bridge area.
- The photos above show Ian wood-carving in the park and his finished product. Ian received special permission to carve lettering into a fallen log near the billabong.
- Ian is a longtime friend and neighbour of the park – regular park users will know him as one of the stalwarts who regularly collects rubbish – which goes a long way to explaining why our park is usually so clean. Clearly, he’s quite a craftsman too.
Vale Bernie Fox
- We were saddened to learn of the untimely and sudden death a couple of weeks ago of one of our “Far Flung Friends” – Bernie Fox of Mali Dunes at Yanac in western Victoria. He was a great activist for, and contributor to, the environment. Bernie would have been known to many for his regular e-mail bulletin for the Victorian Environment Friends Network which covered environmental events throughout the state (including some of ours) as well as the VEFN newsletter.
- He was also a true friend of Blackburn and our park. We featured Bernie and his partner Sue’s inspiring work in last November’s news.
- Working Bees: In the unlikely event you have any energy left after working on our first Working Bee for the year (9-12 Saturday 15th May), you’ll have time for lunch before a further work-out with the Below the Lake folks at their BIG planting working bee from 2-4pm and for tea/coffee and snacks afterwards! Contact: Lynette – firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Your Part of the Corridor: Both Local Community Nurseries have sale days coming up if you’d like to plant some indigenous species at your place to contribute to our corridor – Greenlink on May 21st and Bungalook on May 28th .
- Council is out there doing a lot of consultation for planning changes which have some relevance for our park and local environment more generally:
- Whitehorse Tree Study: this study has reached its Stage 4 – Community Consultation on its Draft Report – comments closing on 20th May.
- Whitehorse Cycling Strategy: Round two of the public consultation is open for discussion – closing on 8th May.
- Whitehorse Draft Sustainability Road Map 2016-2022: open for comment until 6th May.
- As usual, there are some concerning development proposals in play at the moment:
- 124-126 Blackburn Road: 44 trees near Wandinong to go.
- 74 Main Street: re-advertisement of plans for new units (2 units each with 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms + powder room!) – perhaps indicative of the scale/density of future units? Who wants a garden if you can have five bedrooms?
- Finally, it seems it will be harder to do anything about issues like the above – a proposal that residents who want to formally object to a development at VCAT will have to pay a $51 levy from 1/7 is open for submissions.
Plant of the Month
- Plant of the Month is the Twiggy Daisy-bush (Olearia ramulosa) which has responded to recent rain and is showing off its cute daisy-like white flowers in our photo. It grows to a medium-sized, spindly shrub with small leaves. The gloves are there for scale (not protection!) – to give you an idea of the size of the flowers.
Weed of the Month
- Weed of the Month is Wandering Trad or Wandering Creeper (Tradescantia albiflora or Tradescantia fluminensis). It comes to us from South America and 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..
- Our Maintenance Team is justifiably proud of the success it has been having with this pest. Slowly but surely, we’re getting rid of it on top of the banks and are now tackling it on the banks as well.
- Regular walkers Joyce and Larry have let us know they sighted a Buff-Banded Rail a couple of weeks ago east of the Main Street bridge – happily exposing itself for some ten minutes as it walked off along the rocks. They, like us, hadn’t seen a Rail for near to a couple of years – it’s great news that they are back. The Rails need plenty of cover and are disturbed easily by dogs – another good reason for us to keep our dogs on-lead in the park. The photo above shows one sighted in the Waratah Wetlands a couple of years ago after a quiet rainy period.