Park News – May, 2017

First 2017 Working Bee a Great Success!

  • Our first Working Bee for 2017 on Saturday, 6th May was a great success having good attendance and 280 plants going in – in a moderately difficult planting situation between the Scout Hall and the bridge in Blacks Walk.   This work was the first community planting done under our experimental “Mulch up and plant up” project which won a significant Melbourne Water 2-Year Community Grant.

  • Friend Ruth’s picture shows some of the participants enjoying a well-earned break with their new plantings in the foreground.   In the top right corner of the photo, our (feathered) supervisor can be seen glowering at the team for indulging in too much idle chit chat.
  • For those who missed out because they have other commitments on Saturdays, our next working bee is planned for SUNDAY, 11th June – near the same area moving westwards.

Maintenance Team Report

  • The Maintenance Team planted a further 150 plants in the area around the Scout Hall and adjacent to the community working bee area.
  • Otherwise the crew has been weeding further west of the footbridge in Blacks Walk.   Thriving patches of indigenous grasses slowed work down – such a nice problem to have!
  • We thank Council for supplying the mulch we’ve used in several areas of the park.

Safety Signs

  • Because we often work close to paths serving pedestrians and cyclists, we’re organizing new portable signs warning the public of our working nearby.
  • The renowned bird artist, Nicolas Day, has generously granted us permission to use his artwork.  In a collaboration with Ken Simpson, his Field Guide to the Birds of Australia is one of the most respected bird guide books in Australia – having sold more than half a million copies since it was first published in 1984.

  • Our picture above shows his vignette of a male Magpie-lark.  If you’d like to see more of Nicolas’ work, please visit his web-site: http://www.nicolasdayart.com.au/

Cat Problem

  • Some might ask: what could possibly be the problem with a moggy in the park ?
  • Well, the answer is cats are inveterate hunters and killers – they will hunt birds, skinks – anything smaller than them that moves – whether they are hungry or not!  Our photo shows our cat was slavering over a nearby bird in Blacks Walk.  That’s no ordinary pigeon either – it’s an indigenous Bronzewing.

  • Cats are not permitted in the Blackburn Creeklands at any time.  The same applies to all the bushland parks in the municipality.
  • Also, Whitehorse Council introduced a cat curfew in October, 2010.  All cats must be confined between 8:00PM and 6:00AM.   In addition to protecting wildlife, a curfew is good for cats in terms of improved health, safety and longevity – as well as better neighbourhood relations!

Pollution & Rubbish

  • We haven’t quite got to the bottom of a seeming pollution event in The Billabong a few weeks ago.  A dark “sludge” with a large flow of water filled both billabong ponds on a day when there was no significant rainfall.  The good news was that the billabong system prevented any of the sludge reaching the creek itself (and hence the Yarra and Port Philip Bay).
  • It could have been due to a building project in the neighbourhood adversely impacting the stormwater system accidentally or otherwise – or perhaps drain maintenance – our enquiries have proved fruitless so far.

  • Stormwater is water that runs off surfaces such as rooftops, driveways, roads and footpaths.  It travels down pipes and gutters into pits and then enters the underground stormwater network.  In our area, the latter is piped to Gardiners Creek – you’ve probably seen pipes like the above feeding the creek.  Bottom line:  anything that goes into the gutter, quite likely ends up in the creek (or, a last line of defence like The Billabong).
  • There have been other recent pollution/rubbish events unfortunately:
    • The EPA was unable to directly address an instance of pollution in the creek near the Scout Hall which seemed to be due to a paint-like substance.
    • There have been instances of rubbish being dumped in the park surrounds in Heath Street and in the car park adjacent the Bowls Club.
  • On the other side of the ledger, Friend Anthea reported encountering a group of six young people from the Burwood Adventist Community Church doing a great job collecting rubbish along the creek from east to west as a community service.

Fighting for the Trees

  • Our congratulations to the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society Committee and members upon launching their book Fighting for the Trees which tells the Society’s story from its inception in 1959 thru to 2016.  It celebrates 57 years of advocacy and protection of trees – all towards preserving our threatened neighbourhood character.
  • The book is an impressive 260+ pages containing many colour photographs, newspaper clippings and beautiful floral art by Iris Hocking – showing the backstory behind features of our local environment that we tend to take for granted these days.  For example, the Blackburn Lake Sanctuary was more-or-less an informal tip fifty years ago.
  • We think it’s great that they’ve gone to the effort of capturing this dimension of the history of our local community.   “Good on” the State Public Record Office for partly funding the project.  Please contact the Society to obtain your own copy.

In the Corridor

  • Whitehorse Active Transport Action Group – WATAG is a new advocacy group in Whitehorse you may be interested in.  Its focus is cycling, walking and disability mobility – there being health,  social, convenience, environmental and economic benefits in human-powered transport.  Please visit their web-site https://watag.org/ for more information.
  • Events you may be interested in attending:
    • Powerful Owl Talk – Tuesday 6th June, 8PM at FNCV Hall, 1 Gardenia Street, Blackburn.
    • Big Morning Tea – Friday, 9th June, 11.30AM at Bungalook Nursery.

Crossover Solutions at Pakenham Street

  • A working party from our last working bee investigated the rather odd layout of the pram crossovers installed by Council at Pakenham Street – particularly the more southern pair which do not align well with the park’s paths.

  • In our role of advising Council on park matters, consideration of putting a bend in the existing path between the Scout Hall and the creek will be on the agenda at the next working bee.
  • The new Whitehorse Active Transport Action Group (WATAG) details some alternative  solutions – please refer https://watag.org/newsletters/april-2017-news/ .   

Plant of the Month

  •  Plant of the Month is the Black She-oak  (Allocasuarina littoralis).  This is an attractive evergreen tree which automatically mulches itself – reminiscent of pine trees.  Its narrow branchlets appear to be leaves.  The actual leaves are tiny (usually less than 1mm) and occur on the tips of the branchlets.  Interestingly, they are a nitrogen fixing tree – good for plant neighbours.
  • They are a “multi-media” tree – some people especially like the swishing sound the wind makes though their foliage and their leaves hold droplets of water after rain – which can give them a rather bejewelled look once the sun resumes shining.

  • Although they can grow up to 12m tall, they are usually smaller (4-8m high and 2-5m wide) with an attractive, deeply fissured bark.  At this time of the year, the female plants have a subtle red flower which later forms small cylindrical cone 1–3cm long as shown in Ruth’s close-up photo above.  The male trees have less obvious dark brown flower spikes.

Weed of the Month

  • Weed of the Month is Annual Veldt Grass (Ehrharta longiflora).  This is one of the infamous veldt grasses that are serious environmental weeds – being very invasive and disruptive to indigenous ecosystems.

annual veldt grass

  • This particular variety of Ehrharta is an annual – very prolific, setting large amounts of seed.  Native to South Africa, it is now widespread and common – particularly in coastal areas and along creek lines.
  • At this time of year, it presents as a bright green stalk, often amidst good grasses, with hardly any root system attached.  A particularly bad infestation is present to the south of the Furness bridge.

Sightings

  • Other than the Bronzewing sighted by the cat and others, we’ve been seeing King-Parrots, Crimson Rosellas, Eastern Rosellas, Musk Lorikeets and Galahs in abundance.
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