Park News – June, 2018

Deepest Dark Winter!

  • The dark days of winter are upon us – as Ruth’s rather evocative shot of a Tawny Frogmouth at night shows.
  • The good news is that we’ve already passed the shortest day this year!

Committee Membership

  • In our April news, we reported that the three year term of our current (volunteer) committee expires on the 30th June.  As it happens, Council and the park advisory committees have agreed to extend their current terms by one year at Council’s request – while the Committees’ terms of reference are updated and other matters are reviewed.
  • Nevertheless, we do have two vacancies.  If you are interested in making a contribution to our park at committee level for the coming twelve months, please let us know and/or come along to a committee meeting.

Working Bee Report

  • After a very foggy start to the morning as Ruth’s photo shows, our second community working bee for the season on Sunday 3rd June resulted in the new bed in an area east of the Laurel Grove Bridge, south of the creek (often referred to as Thelma’s Maze) being completely planted up and re-weeded as the rather unwelcome Angled Onion and Oxalis revived themselves.

  • Next working bee will be this coming Sunday (1st July), again planting in Thelma’s Maze – but closer to the southern boundary (please follow the signs).  There’s likely to be some mulch to spread for those looking for a more physical work-out.  We hope to see you there if you can help!  NB:  the weather forecast is very favourable!

Maintenance Team Report

  • The maintenance team has been busy elsewhere doing:
    • Weeding and considerable in-fill planting in Furness Park to the north of the bridge and also on the Furness Street side of the creek.
    • Planting quite a large number of plants along the “flood plain” to the west of the Scout Hall to help stabilise the bank (see photo above).  The plants looking rather like the outcome of a bad hair transplant are Carex – these love damp conditions and will help hold the silt in place once they get going.  We also planted some moisture- loving Eucalypts and Melaleucas there.
    • More in-fill planting and weeding along the post-and-rail fence at Middleborough Road and around the Blacks Walk entrance – we are very pleased with how successful the plant-up there has become over the last 2-3 years.
    • Some maintenance work adjacent the primary school.
  • Melbourne Water has informed Council and Committee that they will be instituting a woody weed removal program along the waterway commencing in the new financial year.  Following a joint review, the focus will initially be non-indigenous weed trees and shrubs in Blacks Walk – though it will eventually encompass the entire creek line in the park.   This is great news – particularly because it will be an ongoing program and not a once-off project.

Annual General Meeting

  • The Blackburn Creeklands Advisory Committee Annual General Meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 24th at 7:30 PM preceding our normal monthly Committee meeting.  The meeting will:
    • receive reports on our operations over the preceding financial year including the Annual Financial Statement
    • elect Office Bearers for the coming twelve months from nominations received.
  • As for our monthly meetings, Friends, volunteers and the community are more than welcome to attend.  A senior Council Officer will also attend and, no doubt, discuss future work programs in the park.

Sightings

Bath time in the Creek – not quite on golden pond!

  • The Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos are back in town – our Maintenance Team first spotted them on the 14th June in Furness Park.
  • These endangered cockatoos are seasonal visitors and feed on seeds and grubs.  They are one of Australia’s largest cockatoos and have a strong beak for gouging wood to a depth of several centimetres to find grubs.

  • As their name suggests, they have large pale yellow panels in their tails.  They also have a yellow spot on what bird-people call their “ear coverts” – as shown in the photo above.  The females have a bright yellow spot – the males have a dull yellow equivalent.  Other differences between adult sexes are that the females have a pale grey eye-ring (the males’ are pink) and the females have a grey-white upper bill (the males’ are a darker grey-black).

  • Other interesting sightings have been a Bronzewing pigeon, a single Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and many juvenile King-parrots feasting on acorns near the Ole Oak tree (!).
  • Our fungi are still putting on quite a show too – as this montage of Ruth’s shots shows:

Plant of the Month

Olearia ramulosa var ramulosa

  • Our Plant of the Month is the Twiggy Daisy-bush (Olearia ramulosa).  Twiggy Daisy-bush looks very pretty at the moment with its tiny white daisy-like flowers.
  • 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

  • Weed of the Month is Hawthorn or Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – one of the worst of our “woody weeds”.
  • It is native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia.  It was introduced to our part of the world when it was extensively planted as a hedge plant in agricultural areas (as Blackburn was) because its spines and thick branching make it stock (and human…) proof.  However, it has since become an invasive weed and is a “Declared Noxious weed” in Victoria.
  • It is a deciduous, erect plant that grows to a shrub or small tree up to 10 metres tall with a dense crown.  Its bark is dark brown and its younger stems have sharp thorns (5-25 mm long). Its leaves are dark green on top and paler underneath.
  • It flowers in spring with white, cream or pinkish flowers (8-15 mm across).  It then prolifically bears small red fruit, called haws (5-10 mm across) over summer.  These resemble the red berries on Cotoneaster – another problem plant in the park.  Birds and animals spread its seeds after eating the fruit.  The plant also gradually suckers along the ground forming dense thickets.
  • Our worst infestations are in Blacks Walk where it grows in moister areas along the creek line.  It is one of the woody weeds to be targeted by Melbourne Water’s maintenance program mentioned earlier.
  • Right now, because it has largely lost its leaves in the park, we provide a link to the Council web site which shows its distinctive leaf structure and red berries.
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