Park News – September, 2016

Park Perks!

  • One of the perks associated with being on our park’s Advisory Committee is that Council invites representatives from the parks and both indigenous nurseries in the municipality to an annual function called the Parkland Community Forum.
  • It is an opportunity for us to network with the members of other committees and to hear about Council’s plans for the coming twelve months – as well as its responses to specific issues raised by Committees.
  • One of our challenges over the years has been the watering of our new plantings, struggling with buckets filled from the steep-sided creek.  This year, we shared our experience with our small portable pump – its benefits and how we use it.   This photo, taken at a working bee near the Furness Street bridge, shows the set-up:

pump-description

  • We have authority from Melbourne Water to take water provided the level of the creek is not too low (we check via a website).
  • The small, submersible pump is powered by a small battery and is almost inaudible.  We use a bucket with holes drilled along the bottom to restrain the pump and to help keep debris out of the pump’s inlets.  A light rope is used to lower the bucket containing the pump into the creek and then secure it.
  • The bucket is just large enough to carry the pump, its battery leads and a length of flexible hose.
  • The survival rate of our plants has improved and those formerly on bucket brigade no longer suffer sore calves or backs!

New Paths to Laburnum Primary School (LPS)

new-paths-to-lps

  • Council has installed the new paths in the park from the relocated LPS school gate to the crossing on Pakenham Street and to the car park nearby.   Due to supply problems with Lilydale topping, the reddish Castella topping has been used.  We trust the paths will soften in appearance with use.
  • We’re sure parents and grandparents will appreciate the new paths once school resumes next week – especially those pushing littlies in strollers!
  • Council also took the opportunity to tidy up the small wetland plot in the foreground of the photo.

Bird Survey Coming Up!

Life's a hoot!

Be there – or be square! (Young Tawny Frogmouth – photo courtesy of Jan)

  • Our Spring Bird Survey is planned for 07:30 on Saturday, 22nd October.  Once again, we will be counting species under the expert leadership of Ian Moodie and Pat Bingham.
  • Friends are most welcome and no experience is necessary.  We meet at the Scout Hall in Pakenham Street – near Laburnum Primary School.
  • You should wear sensible clothing/footwear and bring cameras and binoculars if you wish.  Also, please join us for a morning cuppa afterwards at the Scout Hall for the consolidation of results.
  • Please visit our Bird Counts page for further information and links to all survey results to date.

 Working Bee Report

  • Our Sunday, 4th September working bee was our final community working bee planned for the year.  Attendance was down – possibly due to it being Fathers’ Day or the earlier forecasts predicting inclement weather – even though the weather on the day was fine.
  • In any event, the planned work was not completed.  Committee has decided to hold another working bee to complete weeding the area on Sunday 9th October 9AM-12PM.  This will not be publicised as a community working bee – but anyone who’d like to work with Committee members on the day would be very welcome indeed.

Maintenance Team Report

kev-kooka

  • Our photo shows one of our latest recruits, Kev Kookaburra enthusiastically joining in a weeding session – protecting us from dangerous earthworms and their ilk (yum!).   Interesting that his colouration has adapted to match our water buckets!  Other Friends helping out the stalwarts on some Mondays or Thursdays recently have been Nicky, Jan, Matthew and Rosemary.
  • Maintenance Team work for the month has included:
    • Weeding along the northern path between Pakenham Street and Laurel Grove
    • Mulching in the Noticeboard area near the Bowls Club
    • Cleaning and storing the pump and buckets given the planting season for this year has been completed.

Plant of the Month

indigofera

  • Plant of the Month is Austral Indigo (Indigofera australis)  This is a slender shrub with blue-green leaves reminiscent of some ferns and can grow to 2 metres high.  It is spectacularly flowering now with soft purple/pink hues which contrast strongly with the yellows of the wattles.
  • Because its foliage is sparse, we tend to plant this species in groups of three for a denser effect.

Weed of the Month

petty-spurge

  • Weed of the Month is Petty Spurge (Euphorbia peplus) – also known in some places as Radium Weed, Cancer Weed and Milkweed.  Our photo shows an example in Blacks Walk (the blue flowers have dropped from a Kangaroo Apple above).
  • It is an annual with light green foliage growing between 5–30 cm with smooth stems. It usually pulls out easily as long as the you pull from the base of the stem.

not-radioactive

  • It has a thick white sap which explains its last-mentioned common name (although other, unrelated plants are also called “Milkweed”).  As for the second and third common names, the plant’s sap has long been used as a traditional remedy for common skin lesions including cancers – it apparently being toxic to rapidly replicating human tissue.  Wearing gloves when weeding is always good advice – but obviously very important when dealing with weeds of this nature.  Special care should also be taken to ensure the sap does not get into one’s eyes.
  • The weed is native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia but has also invaded Australia, New Zealand and North America.  It is a common local garden weed which typically grows in cultivated land, gardens and other land such as our park where disturbed by weeding.

Sightings

  • Fauna Sightings:
    • Mary has noted seven pairs of Tawny Frogmouths nesting.
    • Frog spawn has been sighted in the Billabong indicating its integration into the park’s creek/wetland domain.
    • A single Buff-banded Rail has been seen or heard regularly – but not this past week. He/she may have moved having not found a mate – or, worse, the neighbourhood cat seen on the edge of the park occasionally might be responsible.   Friend Ruth’s picture shows the “buff” and the “banding” very clearly:
buff-banded-rail

Missing Buff-banded Rail! – Photo courtesy Ruth

  • Whitehorse Council introduced a cat curfew in October, 2010.  All cats must be confined at home between 8:00PM and 6:00AM.  Cats are not permitted in the Blackburn Creeklands at any time.
  • Flora Sightings:
    • Many wildflowers in bloom, including Billy Buttons (looking like yellow pom-poms) in the recently planted up bed at the Main Street bridge and elsewhere in the park, Chocolate Lilies and Early Nancies in Furness Park.  Dillwynia is doing well this year – there is a good example at the western end of the Billabong area.
    • We’ll post photos on the Noticeboard soon to help you identify them.
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