Park News – April, 2017

Bird Survey Report

  • Our Autumn bird survey event was a success as usual – though a little more intimate than usual.  Numbers of attendees were down a little – we’re not sure why – possibly our date coinciding with the ANZAC virtual long weekend or the unfavourable weather report (?).
  • Anyway, the weather was kind to us and we spotted 27 separate species – which is a fairly typical result and there were no surprise sightings.  Once again, Group Leaders Pat and Ian commented on how good it was to have so few introduced species (3) – the vast majority being indigenous.  To check the full results, please click here.  We are very grateful, not only for their insights, but for their generosity with their time and willingness to share their vast experience and knowledge.
  • We were also down on photographers – our bird paparazzi preferring to have a lie-in it seems.  Nevertheless, we took a few shots for the record.  The photo above shows a Laughing Kookaburra who posed very patiently for us  near the Blacks Walk bridge.  The photo below shows the Creeklands’ signature bird – the Tawny Frogmouth – this solitary bird was high on the Blacks Walk hill (photo taken with a dodgy telephoto lens):

  • We saw another 3 pairs of this rather cryptic bird in the survey – due to a combination of good spotting and good local knowledge!

Mulching Working Bees with Burke and Beyond

Below Waratah Crescent – Mulched and ready for in-fill planting

  • Young teams from Burke and Beyond participated in mulching efforts below Waratah Crescent on Monday 3/4 and  in Blacks Walk between the Scout Hall and the bridge on Thursday 20/4 with our maintenance team.   Whitehorse Council provided us with quality mulch for these projects.
  • Those who’ve done it know that mulching is physically hard work which requires a lot of heavy forking, raking and wheelbarrowing.  Well done to the young folks and the workers from Burke and Beyond who’ve made a significant contribution to the park following their earlier involvement last October!

First Community Working Bee for 2017 Coming Up on 6th May!

Blacks Walk – Mulched up and ready for the Plant up!

  • The second set of mulching described above was part of the preparation work for our first Working Bee for 2017 on Saturday, 6th May at 09:00 under our experimental “Mulch up and plant up” project which won a significant Melbourne Water 2-Year Community Grant.   We’ve used part of our grant’s equipment budget to buy a wheelbarrow suitable for moving mulch – clearly, this has already been put to very good use.
    • One of our Committee members, the charming Nicola, who is not only a trained horticulturist but a great trainer herself, will be on hand to show everyone how to plant into the mulched area.  Worker bees not only get a free bickie and cuppa at 10:30, now free training is thrown in!

Another Illegal Mulch Dump

  • Alas, not all mulch is good!   Another illegal mulch dumping occurred in Furness Park last week – this time, a little to the northwest of the Furness bridge.  The perpetrator drove his/her truck in from Main Street, quite a distance, to make a very unwelcome delivery !

  • Although mostly wood, there are traces of exotic vegetation including ivy – which means it’s likely to contain weed seed.  Furthermore, the dumping occurred on top of new plants we lovingly planted.  Also, the material has not been aged.   Being fresh, the rotting process actually takes nutrients, especially nitrogen, out of the soil below.  So – it’s smothered good plants, it’s full of weed and it’ll remove nutrients from the soil as it rots down – hardly a plus for the park!
  • What can YOU do ?  – Please watch out for cowboy contractors and others effectively rubbish dumping in the park.  Council’s ParksWide trucks are white with a blue/green logo on the side.  Take a photo of anything else – and report to Council’s Customer Service on 9262 6333, or e-mail details and photo to customer.service@whitehorse.vic.gov.au .  Council will prosecute these people – it costs a lot to clean up their messes – far, far more than the tipping fees they’re trying to avoid.

Maintenance Team Update

  • We’ve welcomed new participants, Brian (a local Pakenham Street resident and Bungalook volunteer) and Geoff another local, who’ve been able to give us a hand recently with the (ir)regulars Alan, Graeme, John, Mary, Matt and Nicky.

in our minds – but no rope!

  • We’ve been weeding and mulching along the concrete channel, on the north side of the creek – between Laurel Grove and Main Street – as well as helping with the mulching and working bee prep work described above.  Whitehorse Council has been great providing mulch where and when needed.
  • Someone “confiscated” Juliet’s spade from her working area in Furness Park.   That’s now been replaced by another of similar quality.

Plant of the Month

  •  Plant of the Month is Common Correa or “Native Fuchsia”  (Correa reflexa).

correa reflexa

  • The Common Correa is a bird-attracting upright or spreading shrub and the indigenous variety is currently resplendent with green bells (other non-local forms have red bells).  Being indigenous, this attractive plant grows well in the Blackburn area and is quite popular with local gardeners.

Weed of the Month

  • Weed of the Month is Angled Onion (Allium triquetrum).  

angled onion

  • At this time of year, it is just beginning to emerge from the soil – it appears as a green shoot and has a small bulb at its base when dug up.  It flowers later in winter and spring with white bell flowers.  Left unchecked, it can result in quite severe infestations as shown above on the creek bank in Kalang Park.
  • On close inspection, its stems have three acute angles and it has a strong onion-like smell (hence the name).   It spreads by both seed and bulb division.

Sightings

  • Please refer to our Bird Survey Report earlier in this news bulletin for several interesting sightings.  Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos and a young White-faced Heron have also been sighted recently.
  • Birds are not our only fauna of course.   The photo below was taken by our keen photographer friend Ruth.  The “caterpillars” are Sawfly larvae photographed near the Frog Bog.  She thinks they are Bottlebrush Sawfly (Pterygophorus cinctus) – presumably, because they are feeding on Bottlebrush leaves – their favourite food. Other Pterygophorus species are found on Eucalypts and Paperbarks (Melaleuca).

  • When mature, Sawflies look much like wasps but belong to a separate family – based on their reproductive and other characteristics – for example, they don’t have the thin waists that wasps have.
  • They don’t have a sting.  The adult Bottlebrush Sawfly has an orange and black banded body with a wingspan of about 2cm.  The larvae feeding on Eucalypts are sometimes called ‘spitfires’, but they don’t actually spit.  They secrete an irritating or unpleasant liquid from their mouths to help defend against predators.
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