Park News – January, 2017

Creeklands Flora

sweet-busaria-kalang-park

  • Our webmaster has finally gotten his act together towards gathering documentation and resources for our Flora – via a link from the Flora section of our Fauna and Flora page.
  • There already being two excellent guides to the flora of Whitehorse available,  he has adopted a policy of not replicating those excellent works.  Instead, being a rather lazy fellow, he’s fudged it somewhat by collecting our Plant and Weeds of the Month articles into Favourite Flora and Worst Weeds pages.  These are organised by month to hopefully assist you in recognising something nice in the park – or, on other hand, identifying a nuisance weed.  He thanks Friend Ruth for the idea.
  • Anyway, please check them out – relevant links are:
    • Updated Fauna and Flora page with the new links.
    • New Flora page provides an overview of our indigenous flora and our weeds.
    • New Favourite Flora page – the best of or Plants of the Month.
    • New Worst Weeds page – the worst of our Weeds of the Month!

Melbourne Water Grant Success!

  • Melbourne Water has approved our “Mulch up and plant up” project for one of its Community Grants.  The grant will cover two years ie our 2017/18 activities – particularly mulching and planting in Blacks Walk on the south side of the creek moving eastwards from the bridge towards Pakenham Street.   You may have noticed the weed treatment we’ve already commenced in anticipation of winning the grant.
  • The Melbourne Water officer (who dealt with our grant application) was so impressed with the work we’ve all done in the Creeklands, he asked to be invited to a working bee!
  • For those champing at the bit, our working bees don’t restart until Saturday, May 6th.

Pine Tree Removals

pines-kalang-park-3

  • Whitehorse Council’s contractor removed pine trees just in from Laurel Grove South.
  • Council advised that removal was required because they were suffering from “purple top fungus”.

Other Maintenance

  • A reminder that we notified Council’s intention to undertake restoration works on the Blacks Walk Bridge in our December news.  The bridge’s planks are to be replaced with hardwood (Spotted Gum) and will be reinforced with a metal support running down the middle of the bridge to prevent “bounce”.  The bridge will also be repainted a charcoal colour.  Work is still expected to be undertaken mid February and the bridge will not be usable for about a week.  We’ll make sure our Friends at the Laburnum Primary School know…
  • Council has also been busy slashing, sorting out fallen dead trees and spraying path edges.
  • We’ve been busy weeding and doing a little mulching throughout December / January in Furness park to the north of the creek, in the land adjacent to 60 Main Street and around the Billabong.

seed-pod-austral-indigo

  • Seed collection within the park has been undertaken by the Bungalook and Greenlink nurseries with our assistance.   It has been the best season for indigenous grasses our veterans have experienced – the Furness Park grasses looking exceptionally beautiful now. The survival rate and growth of new plantings last year has also been very good.  Both results are attributed to the excellent winter rain followed by good follow-up rains since.  Friend Ruth’s photo above shows how the seed pods of the Austral Indigo twist in spirals as they dry out and prepare to distribute seed.

Creek Flows Backwards ?!!

  • Friend Alan reported that, shortly after the deluge of rain on 29th December, he stood on the Blacks Walk bridge – with a witness – and they noticed that debris in the creek was flowing upstream – to the east under the bridge!
  • We have a theory that might explain that phenomenon.  The junction with the old Blackburn Creek is close by to the west.  Those familiar with the Secrets of the Creeklands know that secret #2, Blackburn Creek, had two tributaries – one arising to the north of Whitehorse Road near the hotel and the other running just to the south of the Blackburn Railway Station.
  • At the time of that deluge, South Parade resembled a raging river and many residents there suffered minor flooding to their properties.  The Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA) has confirmed that its new drainage system for the Railway Station underpass was not fully connected when that 43.6mm of rain fell in 1 hour.  (They say the 1 in 100 year event is estimated as 44.9mm – so not very far off that!).    We think an abnormal amount of water flowed down South Parade, with substantial abnormal contributions from the construction site, into the drains and into the (now) underground remains of Blackburn Creek.   This would have created such a huge flow into Gardiners Creek that it backed up – because the flow down the creek could not deal with the volume of water presenting!

Sightings

mudlarks

  • Our slightly (warm and?) fuzzy photo shows a pair of juvenile Mudlarks (aka Magpie-larks) in Kalang Park on a branch over the creek – probably waiting patiently for mum/dad to return with some tidbits.
  • Other interesting sightings have been Eastern Rosellas, Gang gangs, young White-faced Herons, fish (probably carp) and many Pacific Black Duck chicks/juveniles.
  • Understandably due to its prominence, our birdlife is a tad over-represented in our “sightings” – our park fauna also includes possums, bats, turtles, fish, skinks, spiders, insects (butterflies, beetles, ants…), millipedes, snails, rakali (native water rat) etc etc. To partially correct this imbalance, here’s Friend Bob’s photo of a Greengrocer Cicada:

greengrocer-cicada

  • These insects are about 4 cm long with a wingspan of 11–13 cm (neatly folded back in the photo).  They are usually bright green with red eyes as shown at their adult stage – but other colours are seen (yellow, turquoise and brown).  The grey/brown exuvia, or discarded empty exoskeletons of the nymph stage, are commonly seen on tree trunks in gardens and bushland during summer.  The nymph lives seven years underground (drinking sap from plant roots) before emerging from the earth and climbing a tree to moult.  The adults only live for six weeks flying around and breeding over summer – no wonder they make so much noise about it!
  • More on our insects – here’s a large beehive on a fallen Blackwood in Kalang Park:

beehive-kalang-park

  • To complete our insect “special”, Imperial Blue butterfly caterpillars are currently pupating on the Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii) and one Blackwood (A. melanoxylon) saplings in the park land adjacent to 60 Main Street) – attended by ants swarming all over them (see photo below).
  • In an interesting symbiotic relationship, ants swarm over the butterfly larvae collecting secretions as food.  In return, the larvae receive some protection from predators and parasites.  Adult butterflies hover about (possibly males waiting for females to emerge).

Plant of the Month

  • Our Plant of the Month is the consistent January winner Sweet Bursaria – looking particularly beautiful this year.   Our photo at the start of this news shows one flowering in Kalang Park near Main Street on the south side of the creek.
  • Some have asked what the purple flowering park in the new(ish) bed near the Main Street bridge is:

regen-area-main-street-bridge

  • It’s name is Purple Loosetrife (Lythrum salicaria).  It’s grown quicker than most of the other new plants there and its spectacular flowers make it stand out.  No doubt the area will soften somewhat as the other plants catch up and fill in the gaps.
  • To find out more about it, the plant is listed in the Indigenous Gardening in Whitehorse guide available online here.

Weed of the Month

creeping buttercup

  • Our Weed of the Month is Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens).  Creeping Buttercup is a yellow flowering plant native to Europe, Asia and northwest Africa.  It has erect flowering stems up to 50 cm high as well as prostrate running stems, which produce roots and new plants at the nodes, rather like strawberry plants.
  • It likes damp places and becomes quite dense smothering competitors.  The photo shows an example growing quite densely along the water’s edge in Furness Park.  It often has the annoying habit of growing up the creek banks from the water’s edge to colonize areas under regeneration.

Events and Notices

  • We have noted with regret the resignation of Lisa Hargreaves from our Committee due to other commitments.  Lisa is a professional landscape designer and has served for 10 years.  Her plant/ landscaping knowledge and professional perspective in particular will be sorely missed and we thank her for her valuable contributions to Committee meetings, working bees and to the park itself.
  • For your diaries:
february-icon Friends are always welcome at our monthly Committee Meetings.  Next meeting is Tuesday, 28th February at the Kalang Oval Pavilion at 7:30PM.  Meetings usually run for 1.5 to 2 hours.
april-icon Our Autumn Bird Survey is likely to be Saturday, 22nd April.  Our usual expert group leaders Pat Bingham and Ian Moodie have confirmed their availability.
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