As to be expected, our Autumn Bird Survey was the highlight of the month in the park.
Old hands expected that the strong winds and the dull, overcast conditions would result in a disappointing list of bird counts on the day.
How wrong they were! Twenty-seven species were observed and there were twenty-seven participants – neatly one species per person. For further information on our Bird Surveys, including links to all the results, please click here. We were fortunate to have several new people along including visitors from South Australia and Holland as well as someone who has two years’ experience in birdwatching in China.
We were treated to the best display we’ve seen of Gang-gang Cockatoos feeding on eucalypt seed capsules and flying around in Kalang Park – as well as other less well-known species such as the Grey Fantail, Long-billed Corella and White-browed Scrub Wren. Interestingly, only one bird of an introduced species (a Common Mynah) was spotted!
Gang-gangs are predominately grey excepting the males which have a bright red head with a rather raffish crest. Our friend Margaret seems to have snapped a juvenile male in her photo above. His head is only patchily red and his crest is still growing. When he matures, his head will be solid tomato red and his crest will be two or three times as long. The females have finely barred light-red-on-grey chest feathers – giving them a browner grey appearance from a distance.
We thank all who participated – especially our very engaging and informative leaders Ian and Pat, the Scouts for providing the hall (Bronwyn), our new participants and the folks who provided our morning tea and gifts for leaders – especially Graeme, Jen, Mary and Anne.
No bird survey report would be complete without a photo of our “signature” bird – the Tawny Frogmouth – again captured by our friend Margaret in a stately pose:
Vic Health on Green Spaces like our Park
A recent VicHealth article refers to the benefits of our being active in our parks – something many us probably all know about already:
Please click hereto read more of the VicHealth article…
More on Project Regeneration (1986-87)
Our article in last month’s news concerning Project Regenerationprompted people to send in some additional photos concerning the project.
In the photo below, Geoff Lodge is addressing a public meeting concerning the project.
To his right are Alan Reid and Mayor Wendy Reid. Wendy Reid provided Geoff with a lot of support for the project in relation to the Council and, before that, was a great supporter of the acquisition of the MMBW land – to link and integrate our parks (Blacks Walk, Furness and Kalang Parks) into the Blackburn Creeklands in 1983.
Our Photopointsproject sprang from an idea of Alan Reid. Alan did some other innovative work in the park including leading Honeyeater walks in the early 1980s and his idea for a butterfly survey in the mid 1980s. He was a member of our park committee from 1987 -1992.
Another part of the logistics that Geoff managed was the supply of mulch. He arranged for the delivery of quality mulch to strategic points in the park. These piles then had to be moved to the new beds and spread. This photo shows a team of locals and Burnley students working on the second phase…
At right, is Geoff’s dad Alan Lodge. Another legacy of the project is that Alan was so badly bitten by the regeneration bug, he received a Community Achievement Award in 2014 for the enormous contributions he has made over the decades since the project plantings – both to the Blackburn Creeklands and to the Bungalook nursery.
That is the Old Oak Tree at the bottom of Kalang Oval in the background – so the work site would be next to the car park adjacent to the bowls club.
Finally, the following photo shows some of our park Committeeat about the time of the project:
Standing (L-R) are Brian Crouch, Richard Elvins and Hilda Zappe. Seated are Helen MacFarlane (Councillor rep on committee), Geoff Lodge, Thelma Osborn and Megan Short (who remains on Committee after longer than thirty years’ service as Chairperson). Sadly, Mr Elvins, Mrs Zappe and Mrs Osborn have since passed away.
In those early days, we always had a Councillor on committee plus the Head of Parks and Recreation (the renowned John Brandenburg). Most, but not all, of the new committee were from the Blackburn Creek Conservation Group– there were also bowls and baseball club representatives. The first term was from May 1984 – August 1986. For the first year or so, we were the Linear Park Committee of Management during which we canvassed names for the new parkland – to come up with our current “Blackburn Creeklands”.
Incidentally, the three year term of our current (volunteer) committee expires on the 30th June. If you are interested in making a contribution to our park at committee level, please let us know and/or watch out for Council advertisements calling for nominations in the coming month or so.
Maintenance Team Report
Over the past month, work has progressed further to the south of the creek in Thelma’s Maze preparing one site for planting out and also in the adjacent areas leading towards Laurel Grove south.
Weeding in the Maze has included removing Privet, Bridal Creeper, Angled Onion and treating old Prunus trees. In addition, there has been considerable thinning of Melicytus dentatus, the Tree Violet (our Plant of the Month). The latter work has also been done closer to Laurel Grove leaving a very pleasing stand of Melaleuca next to the path that joins Laurel Grove north and south.
Current work has been weeding out Periwinkle (our Weed of the Month) towards the rear of the Melaleucas and further thinning of Melicytus at the boundary with Laurel Grove South on the western side of the path. Further work at the latter site is needed to manage a considerable Jasmine infestation and sensitively manage exotics planted there in anticipation of the land being sold off for housing decades ago.
We’ve taken delivery of our first order of plants (almost 1,000) and will need to maintain thorough and careful watering prior to our being able to plant them out. Our priorities are planting on the northern bank of the creek near Blackburn Road and supplying our next working bees.
First Community Working Bee for 2018
Our first Community Working Bee for 2018 is planned for Saturday, 12th May at 09:00 in the Maze along the main east-west track south of the creek just east of Laurel Grove bridge.
Because of the current dryness, planting needs to be deferred for the time being. So, we’ll need to grit our teeth and get stuck into mulch spreading and/or further site preparation – weeding, thinning etc. Ruth’s picture above shows the team taking a break during our first working bee last year. Note our supervisor in the top right corner wanting worm digging-up to resume immediately…
In Our Corridor
Coincidentally, two properties neighbouring the park are on the market at present. The first is at our northwestern boundary with Laurel Grove North and the other is at our boundary with 60 Main Street.
Regarding the latter property, Friends may remember that VCAT overruled our local council to approve an inappropriate development there for three double-storey units more than two years ago. Unfortunately, that approval would transfer with a sale. However, we are hopeful that a new owner might start again with a superior design more sympathetic with the site. That would be a win-win – for the park and for the developer.
Plant of the Month
This month, Plant of the Month has been awarded to Tree Violet (Melicytus dentatus – formerly known as Hymenanthera dentata). It is a hardy, dense, medium to tall indigenous shrub which can grow up to 4 metres high. Sometimes spiny, it has long (5-50mm), sometimes toothed leaves and flowers in Spring. The small (3-5mm) and inconspicuous scented bell-shaped flowers are followed by pale green to purple-black, small (4-5mm) round berries.
Importantly, it provides food and cover for birds and skinks. There is a negative though – in our park (and only one other in the Whitehorse municipality), it tends to form a monoculture taking over large areas. We therefore do need to manage it so as to maintain diversity.
Weed of the Month
Weed of the Month is Blue Periwinkle (Vinca major). Periwinkle is an evergreen perennial flowering plant native to the western Mediterranean. Thickly growing to 25-50cm tall and spreading indefinitely, it is frequently used as a ground-cover. As such, the infestations in the park are probably “garden escapees”. Our picture shows a sad looking patch in the Maze – no doubt suffering from the prevailing dryness. It is no longer flowering – the inset picture shows its flower.
It prefers moist undergrowth, woodlands and banks of rivers and creeks growing well in both full sun and deep shade. We’ve removed it from the banks of the barrelled part of the creek and from moist areas such as the Melaleuca stand mentioned earlier in our Maintenance Team Report.
It’s name comes from its 3–5cm diameter blue-violet, five-lobed flowers which appear from early spring to autumn. The plant is a trailing vine which spreads by its stems taking root where they touch soil and by seed. It is an invasive species in our environment and tends to smother indigenous plants and diversity in riparian areas.