Park News – December, 2016

Our Compliments of the Season!

comliments

  • The excellent spring rains have certainly livened up the park making it lush and showing off our grasses in particular.  Our photo shows a Christmas Bush in the foreground in a section of Kalang Park that was planted up only a few years ago after some large Monterey Pine trees were removed.
  • We wish all our Friends and your families a safe and happy holiday period – and all the best for 2017!

2016 – The Year in Review

So what happened in 2016 ?

Official Opening of Kalang Pavilion on 12th February

  • The new pavilion at Kalang Oval was officially opened by the then Mayor, Cr Daw, on 12th February, 2016.

pavilion completed

  • Our Committee has relocated our monthly meetings to the multi-purpose room in the new facility – it is nice to be able to meet in the park.   We are also using storage facilities there.

Autumn and Spring Bird Surveys

Musk Lorikeets in Hollow, Kalang Park – Courtesy Ian Moodie

Musk Lorikeets in Hollow, Kalang Park – Courtesy Ian Moodie

  • Our 2016 Autumn and Spring Bird Surveys were very successful mostly dodging the bad weather around at both times.
  • Please visit our Bird Counts page for further information and links to all survey results to date.

Main Street Bridge Project Completion

  • Council’s work on the Main Street bridge including bringing it’s railings up to today’s safety standards was completed.  Committee was delighted with the outcome – the dark colour is designed to make the railings blend into the background.
  • The photo below, taken during construction, shows the old and new railings together for comparison:

main street bridge during construction

  • Revegetation work around the “flares” of the bridge was undertaken by the community in a later working bee.

Our 2016 Revegetation Projects

working-bee-may-2016

  • We were awarded a significant grant from Melbourne Water for two revegetation projects.  One project site was to the north of the creek, to the east of Furness Street in Furness Park (see working bee photo above).  The other site was also to the north of the creek, more or less opposite the Billabong in Kalang Park.
  • We also extended our efforts to further areas in Furness Park moving westwards and to an area to just north of the Blacks Walk bridge, either side of the track.
  • All this work was successfully undertaken with good support from Friends and the community in Saturday and Sunday working bees.  A highlight from the 2015/2016 fiscal year’s report included our spending more than $5,000 on plants for the first time in one financial year – planting 3,267 plants in these projects and in regular maintenance planting!
  • Over the past year, we’ve had good attendances at our working bees – particularly earlier in the year – which are transforming our park.  Credit also goes to individuals: Juliet (who weeds and mulches Furness Park along Heath Street), Peter and Helen (on the hill in Kalang Park), Mary and her Monday/Thursday team (Alan, Graeme, Nicky, Jan, Matthew and John) as well as the Council and Melbourne Water staff and contractors.
  • Thank you all for your support!

Melbourne Water Planting between Laurel Grove and Main Street

MMBW plantings 2016

  • Melbourne Water further contributed to our park by planting up the northern bank of the channel where woody weeds were removed late last year.
  • Planting and maintenance are a problem for us there because we are not equipped to work on such a steep slope.  Thanks again Melbourne Water!

An Unexpected Regeneration Project in Furness Park

  • A Bushland Monitoring report for Council highlighted the presence of remnant indigenous grasses to be found in Furness Park near the corner of Heath and Main Streets.
  • A committee proposal that we attempt to recover part of the area was approved.  The basic plan of attack was to stop mowing the area, weed out foreign grasses and other weeds; then allow the remnant indigenous grass to seed and regenerate.
  • We’ve been very pleased by the result:

regen-area-201612

  • The indigenous grasses have rebounded – what you see is mostly species of Wallaby Grasses and Spear Grasses.  Surprisingly, there was also a significant crop of Chocolate Lilies in spring.  Hopefully, more wildflowers will reappear next season.  Note that Furness Park was acquired in 1941 for the express purpose of preserving land for indigenous plants and wildflowers.
  • This is what the area looked like when we started work in April:

logs around regen area

Use of Mulch

  • You may have noticed that we have been mulching this year – a lot more than we have in the past.  Mulch helps prevent weed growth – eg  giving good plants a head start in newly planted areas.  It also helps retain moisture in the soil.
  • Most of our mulch is high-quality and weed-free – it is provided by Council from fallen timber in our parks.  The exception is the natural leaf litter used very effectively by Juliet.

mulching-team

  • Our photo shows Dara with a team of young folks from Burke and Beyond, together with our regular maintenance team Alan, John and supervisor Mary having just mulched a large bed near Sheehans Road in Kalang Park.  Mary described working with Dara’s team as an “absolute delight”.   Our thanks to Louise from Burke and Beyond for the photo and permission to use in our web news.

 Return of the Buff-banded Rail

rail_waratah_wetlands

  • The Buff-Banded Rail reappeared in the park after being absent a couple of years.  Sadly, there seemed to only be one – his or her calls for a mate were not responded to.

New Paths to Laburnum Primary School (LPS)

new-paths-to-lps

  • Council installed 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 – a pointer to the future for new paths in our park.

New Style Seats

new-style-seat

  • Another pointer to the future is the new style of seat installed by Council in Blacks Walk and also in the park adjacent to 60 Main Street.
  • Although perhaps less rugged, the new style seats – being higher off the ground and having more comfortable backrests – are better suited to the elderly whose needs really should be first priority.

Next Year’s Planned Revegetation Projects

  • Subject to our obtaining funding, we have people ready and willing to participate in the following activities in 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.
  • Preparation work has already commenced.  We also hope to continue to have our Friends’ support for these tasks in working bees in 2017.

2017 Calendar

  • Friends of the Creeklands and the broader community are invited to participate in occasional Saturday or Sunday morning Working Bees.  We usually do weeding and/or planting work with occasional mulching and rubbish removal.  The community working bee program for 2017 is planned to be:
    • Saturday May 6th
    • Sunday June 11th
    • Sunday July 9th
    • Sunday August 13th
    • Sunday September 10th
    • Saturday October 7th
  • Having Saturday working bees was successfully trialled this year.  Obviously, it enables those in the community who have Sunday commitments an opportunity to contribute.
  • Next year’s autumn and spring bird surveys will probably be on Saturdays in the latter half of April and October respectively.  We’ll let you know once the dates are locked in.
  • Friends are very welcome to attend BCAC Committee meetings as our guests.  We meet at 7:30 PM on every fourth Tuesday in the month (excepting December) at the Kalang Oval pavilion.
  • Meeting dates are to be:  January 24th, February 28th, March 28th, April 25th,  May 23rd,  June 27th  July 25th  (including AGM), August 22nd,  September 26th,  October 24th and  November 28th.

Current Maintenance Works

blacks-walk-bridge

Friend Bev on Blacks Walk Bridge – early/mid 1990s(?)

  • Council has let us know that maintenance improvements will be made to the Blacks Walk footbridge around mid-February:
    • The planks will be replaced with hardwood and reinforced to remove the current “bounciness” and unevenness.
    • It will be repainted to a charcoal colour.
    • The bridge will be closed for at least a week while the work is done.  Signs will be up and we’ll keep you posted on developments.
    • Despite appearances, our picture above doesn’t show the bridge when it was “brand new” in 1985/86.   We think it would be 7-10 years old in the photograph – the broad horizontal metal strap at the bottom was a later addition for improved safety.
  • You may have noticed our own maintenance team has been busy weeding and mulching north of the creek in Furness Park moving westwards and has just crossed Main Street into Kalang Park.  Furness Park is looking fabulous – in particular, the grasses in the area Juliet looks after (adjacent to Heath Street) are thriving in a weed-free environment.  Thanks Juliet! – she says its all due to the rain – apparently nothing to do with her extraordinary efforts and expertise!

Scrawny Tawny

  • Further to our story in last month’s news about Mary (our working bee coordinator) rushing a Tawny Frogmouth chick fallen from its nest to the Blackburn Vet – it seems these chicks can be quite accident prone…

scrawny-tawny-1

  • Frances, who lives in our park Corridor in Laburnum Street, found another Tawny chick that had fallen out of its nest. Frances (using the bucket) put it back up in the tree where it was reunited with its parents.
  • The photo below, shows the same young fellow (more fledged) – clearly quite perky and happy with Frances, who no doubt saved his life:

scrawny-tawny-2

  • Birdlife Australia’s Holly Parsons (Australian Birdlife magazine, September 2016)  says that it is a myth that adult birds will reject chicks if they’ve been touched by humans.
  • They recognise their chicks by call, not smell, and most birds actually have a limited sense of smell.
  • If a chick has only fluffy feathers, it is a nestling – so simply return it to its nest like Frances did.  If the bird is mostly feathered, it is a fledgling and (almost) ready to leave the nest – the best thing is to put it on a branch where mum and dad will find it and continue to feed it.
  • Our thanks to Friend Peter for thinking of us and sharing Frances’ heart-warming story.

Plant of the Month

Olearia ramulosa var ramulosa

  • Plant of the Month is the Twiggy Daisy-bush (Olearia ramulosa) which is looking very pretty at present with its tiny white daisy-like flowers -having responded well to the spring rains.
  • It grows to an attractive 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

milk-thistle

  • Weed of the Month is the Milk Thistle – we seem to have a bumper crop this year!  There is more than one plant called “Milk Thistle” – our champion for the month is Sonchus oleraceus.  It is related to the Dandelion and originally comes to us from Europe and western Asia.
  • It is a hollow-stemmed annual which can grow to more than a metre high – commonly in disturbed soil (eg after we remove other weeds).   It is a fast grower that likes full sun and is not fussy about soil conditions.  It has yellow flowers that ripen into fluffy white seed heads – seed is then spread by wind and water.
  • In Australia generally,  it is a very common and widespread invasive species creating significant problems in agriculture.  Don’t take our word for it – but the leaves are said to be edible and the plant is also used by herbalists.  After blanching, the leaves are eaten as salad greens or cooked like spinach – perhaps a novel Christmas salad idea?

See you next year!

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