Park News – August, 2016

Spring is in the Air!

wattle 2016

  • We’re sure you’ll agree there are signs of spring in the air.  We’ve already had one daily maximum over 20 degrees, many of the wattles are flowering and the first brood of ducklings (Pacific Black) has been sighted (both photos snapped by Ruth):

first ducklings 2016

  • Even though there are only (!) 13 ducklings in the picture, our reporters on the spot say there were actually 15, possibly 16, there at the time.  They now face natural predators such as other birds; and the unnatural – foxes, dogs-off-lead and cars.
  • If you’d like to identify our flowering wattles, our noticeboard currently displays 9 of the wattle species currently in flower.
  • For your diaries, there are two Spring activities planned:
    • 4th September (Sunday): our final official working bee planned for the year.  This is therefore your last chance this year to “do your bit” for the park in a community working bee.   We will be weeding on the northern side of the northern track between Laurel Grove and Main Street (eg behind the houses along Boongarry Avenue) – starting at the Laurel Grove end.  Additional wheelbarrows will be useful please.
    • 22nd October (Saturday): our Spring Bird Survey – a regular event since 2012. The idea is to spot and count our local birds with expert assistance.  It’s a great way to learn about our local birdlife with a sociable cuppa afterwards.  Click here  for more information on our Bird Survey program.

Working Bee Report

  • 21st August – The weather held up reasonably well for our planting bee to plant up around the new Main Street bridge railings and adjacent areas of the park.  We were pleased to welcome some keen and younger folks – Sam for the first time and John whom we haven’t seen since last year.
  • We planted nearly three hundred plants – which is an excellent result given the conditions. Even more so, given we also had the opportunity to start the weeding work slated for next month’s working bee!
  • The largest area was found to have extremely poor soil and drainage – we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a good survival rate.

working bee flooded

  • Last month’s 31st July working bee, planting out the bend adjacent to “Yellow Island”, was followed by a dump of 35mm of rain the day afterwards.  Unfortunately, some tube-stock planted closest to the water’s edge were lost despite our planting them as deeply as possible.  Our picture shows a pair of Chestnut Teals dismayed at the damage after the flooding.

Maintenance Team Report

  • Maintenance Team work for the month has included:
    • Weeding/in-fill planting near our notice board, the track along the southern side of the creek below Kalang Oval and around the Billabong.
    • Preparatory work for the 21/8 working bee – weeding around the four bridge flares and into Furness Park.
    • Weeding along the north/east of Kalang Park from Pakenham Street is in progress.

Melbourne Water Planting between Laurel Grove and Main Street

  • Melbourne Water has recently met its commitment to plant up the northern bank of the channel where woody weeds were removed late last year (refer our November, 2015 news for details).

MMBW plantings 2016

  • Due to the steepness of the bank and the possibility of an unwelcome hard and wet landing, this is a very challenging area for our Maintenance Team to work in.  The contractor is better equipped – staff string a rope between two vehicles which is used as a base to hitch on harness ropes for workers going down the bank.
  • Note that jute mats have been used for weed suppression around the plants – including clusters of grasses. These will eventually rot down – hopefully, leaving an established plant relatively free from competition from weeds.

Next Year’s Revegetation Work

  • Subject to our obtaining funding from Council or another source, we have people ready and willing to participate in the following activities in our forward planning for 2016/2017:

projects 2016-2017

  1. Weeding and revegetation in Blacks Walk from the bridge to Pakenham Street along the southern path, between the path and the creek.
  2. Further revegetation in the fairly small area to the north of the Blacks Walk bridge.
  3. Further revegetation in Furness Park east of Main Street on both sides of the creek.
  • We also hope to continue to have our Friends’ support for these tasks in working bees too.

New Paths to Laburnum Primary School (LPS)

  • The school recently relocated its eastern gate further south (up the hill) on the Pakenham Street boundary.  To serve the new gate’s access to the children’s crossing and car park, Council has agreed to install new paths in the parkland adjacent to the school (opposite the Bowls Club).  Work is expected to be done during the next school holidays.
  • LPS celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. This photo, exhibited during the celebrations, shows how the school children first walked to school in 1964:

drummer small

  • We are not absolutely certain where the children are – but it’s almost certainly either Blacks Walk or the school grounds.  We’d be grateful if anyone can help pinpoint where the photo was taken.  Please e-mail us with any information or ideas.
  • We are hoping the school will remove the redundant path to where the old gate was – this will alleviate significant drainage problems we have near the Blacks Walk entrance from the car park.

Plant of the Month

dodder

  • Plant of the Month is Dodder (Cassytha spp).  Dodder is a strange plant looking rather like a strangling, tangled, leafless, aerially suspended vine growing well above ground.   An appropriate alternative common name for one variety is devil’s twine.
  • In fact, it does have leaves – but they are microscopic, being reduced to minute scales on the stem (which occasionally branches).   Our example shows Dodder seriously impacting a host Blackwood wattle in Furness Park.
  • It is semi-parasitic – Dodders attach themselves to a plant and wrap themselves around it.  The dodder produces haustoria (a wedge inside attachment cups) that insert themselves into the vascular system of the host and the young Dodder’s root in the soil dies off – leaving it up in the air, partly feeding off its host.
  • Dodders often strangle or break their host plants.  They propagate by seed after flowering, helped by birds.
  • Bottom line: probably not a good choice for your garden – but Dodder is indigenous, so has a right to exist in our park.

Weed of the Month

  •  Weed of the Month is Fumitory (Fumaria capreolata).  Fumitory is an herbaceous annual in the poppy family and is native to Europe, west Asia and north Africa.  You may have noticed it in your garden – it is coming up now.  It is mainly a weed of riparian areas including creek banks and  urban bushland – preferring partially shady, wetter habitats where it can form a dense ground cover and may also climb up over lower-growing vegetation smothering them.

fumitory

  • It has bright light green foliage and may have either white or pink and claret flowers.  It seems to seed prolifically.  The examples above (near the Billabong) show Fumitory beginning to smother a Lomandra at left and the density of seedlings coming up through leaf litter.  The good news is that it pulls out quite easily.

Sightings

ducklings 2

Under a watchful eye from Mum (photo courtesy Ruth)

  • A lone Buff-banded Rail has continued to be spotted and can be heard calling for a mate.  Other interesting sightings have been the first (Pacific Black) ducklings for the season mentioned earlier, King-parrots, a Pied Cormorant and Gang-gang Cockatoos.
  • In the corridor, Friend Ruth has reported seeing three White-faced Heron chicks in a nest in Linum Street.
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