Park News – September, 2018

Spring has Sprung!

  • Now that Spring has sprung at last, it’s breeding time for many bird species in our park.  Some, such as our wood ducks, need hollows, others build nests in trees and some have more peculiar habits – our Spotted Pardalotes like to dig tunnels in creek banks.
  • Here’s a sample of Ruth’s shots showing three of our local owner-builders – a Raven, a Spotted Pardalote (who looks like he may have been painting the tunnel’s ceiling) and a White-faced Heron:

Raven with nesting material – Furness Park

Spotted Pardalote with nesting material – Furness Park

White-faced heron in Kalang Park – is that a worm or nesting material ?

Spring Bird Survey (Saturday, 6th October)

  • Now that we’ve learned how to recognise at least three birds, we’re fully trained to participate in our next bird survey coming up on Saturday (6th October).
  • Actually, you don’t need any training or experience at all – our expert leaders are able to locate many species usually invisible to the rest of us through their knowledge of bird calls and habits.  There is also the opportunity to ask questions of our experts about the birds in their natural habitat.
  • Because the “early bird catches the worm” and we want to catch sight of the bird, the survey walks start at 07:30 sharp (at the Scout Hall – finishing at about 09:30).  If you need to skip breakfast for the early start, please be aware that we do have a scrumptious morning tea afterwards while we correlate the survey results.
  • Please see our Bird Counts page for further information.

Laurel Grove Drainage Works and Wetland Improvements

  • Council contractors have started work on a project in Laurel Grove North and nearby streets to update their drainage.  Some readers will have noticed the stock of drainage pipes located at Laurel Grove near the corner of Linum Street and equipment sited further downhill.
  • Council will also commence removals/pruning of some nature-strip trees soon.  Thankfully, our regular photographic contributor Ruth has been able to arrange with Council to work-around two identified habitat trees until bird nesting in them is finished.
  • Council also intends to upgrade the existing Waratah Wetlands to process the storm-water coming from the roads.  The idea is to plant up more of the area with wetland plants and incorporate a small frog pond.  Many will know the intended site as a grassed area to the east of Laurel Grove that becomes impassable and impossible to mow during the wetter months (if/when we get them!).

  • Key features of the improvements shown above are:
    • The existing grassy area developed into an ephemeral wetland (shown as yellow-green) surrounded by a drier area and the walking path.
    • A new concrete Sediment Trap built where the flows enter the park from the street.
    • A shallow pond intended to form a frog habitat.
    • An earth berm (barrier) to help direct flows into the existing Waratah Wetland.
    • The path itself raised about 150mm to form another barrier to the water flow -this will make the area wetter than it currently is.
    • A new culvert to control water exiting the system to the creek.
  • Council has notified us that three trees are to be removed for the proposed Sediment Trap including an exotic Poplar and a native (though not indigenous) Mahogany Gum.
  • We are excited about the proposed park improvements and intend to apply for a grant to make complementary improvements to the southern side of the path which is quite weedy at present.

Why Visit Blackburn ?

  • We were pleased that our Kalang Park and Blacks Walk were mentioned in the recent “6 reasons to visit Blackburn” article in The Age’s Spectrum segment of 8/9/2018 – along with our friends at Cootamundra Walk, Blackburn Lake Sanctuary and Wurundjeri Walk.
  • Interestingly, 4 of The Age’s 6 reasons were to do with passive recreation – the parks and the Artists’ Trail.  The latter includes a visit to our Blacks Walk (point 7) where Tom Roberts painted Dewy Eve in 1888 showing a rather calmer version of Middleborough Road.  Please click here for a peek at that painting.

Annual Parkland Community Forum

  • Whitehorse Council invites representatives from the parks’ advisory committees and indigenous nurseries in the municipality to an annual function in September called the Parkland Community Forum.  It is a celebration of volunteering and also a networking opportunity.
  • Council always engages an entertaining speaker.  This year – we enjoyed a talk from Karen Jones from the Port Phillip EcoCentre.  The EcoCentre is a St Kilda based “not-for-profit, community-managed, environment group, providing a base for affiliate groups involved in activities that promote biodiversity, environmental sustainability and community action”.

Working Bees

  • Last working bee on September 9th was well-attended and achieved a lot of additional low-level planting adjacent the track from the Main Street bridge towards Gardenia Street in Furness Park.
  • What we are trying to do is to replace the weeds with interesting indigenous wildflowers and grasses while maintaining existing viewlines to the creek.  Ruth’s photo shows two of our working bee supervisors (Laurie/Keith?), resplendent in their orange fluoros, monitoring progress.
  • Next community working bee will be the last for the season!  Note too that it will be a Saturday event – on October 13th.  Nevertheless, the Monday-Thursday mornings Maintenance Team works year-round and welcomes additional help if you have time on either of those days.

Maintenance Report

  • Recent work has consisted of weeding the “Southern Corridor” from Pakenham Street towards the Billabong on the southern bank of the creek.
  • Further weeding and planting was also done in the September working bee area.
  • We were disappointed to notice that three specially selected Manna Gums and other plants that we planted along the northern boundary of Blacks Walk near the Guide Hall have been stolen or otherwise removed after about 6 weeks in the ground.
  • Melbourne Water has commenced woody weed removals along the creek in Blacks Walk with several Privet and Hawthorn weeds removed.
  • One of our team, Nicola, has undertaken an audit of most of the seats in the park from the point of view of usability by older park users.   She has made recommendations for new seats and replacements that have been forwarded to Council for action.

Committee Membership

  • For the first time since its inception in the 1980s, we find our Committee is shrinking.  We currently have two positions vacant and there are likely to be one or two more soonish – for example, as people leave the area.
  • We have an interesting time ahead – assisting and advising Council with the new wetland project, managing our own revegetation projects, as well as continuing to do our day-to-day work – monitoring happenings in the park, running working bees, producing our regular newsletter, maintaining the web-site and running special events such as our Bird Surveys.  All that may sound daunting, but each committee person makes different contributions depending on their particular interests, skills and availability.
  • If you are interested in making a contribution to our park at committee level until June next year, please let us know and/or come along to a committee meeting.  The nine months from now until next June may be ideal for someone wanting to give committee membership a good trial.

Sightings

  • King-parrots seem to have taken up residence in the park and are hopefully breeding. The group of five Common Bronzewings and White-faced Herons reported last month continue to be regularly seen.
  • Several species of the park’s flora are flowering nicely at the moment including:  Clover Tree (Goodia lotifolia) – our Plant of the Month, Mountain Clematis or Old Man’s Beard (Clematis aristata), Snowy Daisy Bush (Olearia lirata), Running Postman (Kennedia prostrata),  Purple Coral-pea (Hardenbergia violacea) and Austral Indigo (Indigofera australis).

Plant of the Month

  • Despite worthy competition from other species, our Plant of the Month is Golden-tip or Clover Tree (Goodia lotifolia).  It is a fast-growing large shrub in the pea family growing to 4 metres.  It has blue-green “trifoliate” leaves looking rather like clover.

  • It is flowering beautifully in the park now having yellow flowers with red parts.  Seed pods follow flowering, mostly 23–28 mm long on long stems.
  • The plant often “spreads” by suckering new shoots from the ground around its periphery – making it quite good for a loose hedge in the garden.

Weed of the Month

  • Weed of the Month is the one of the pests Melbourne Water has turned its attention to – Broad Leaved Privet.  Broad-leaf or Broad-leaved Privet (Ligustrum lucidum) is a flowering evergreen tree which can grow to 10 metres tall and wide.
  • It is native to the southern half of China and “naturalized” in many places including Australia, parts of Europe, Africa and the Americas. Probably first brought here as an ornamental, it is now considered to be a serious environmental weed throughout Australia and is classed as a noxious weed in New South Wales.
  • Fast-growing and prolific, dense stands of Privet can prevent indigenous vegetation surviving or establishing.  It invades rainforests, eucalypt forests, grassy woodlands, grasslands and riparian (ie along water ways) vegetation.  It likes moisture – so creeks, gullies and drainage lines are favoured.
  • Along with Prunus, Hawthorn and Desert Ash, it is one of the worst woody weeds in the park. It has large glossy, dark green leaves and bears whitish flowers later in Spring.  These develop into berries popular with Currawongs and other birdlife (who spread the seed with fertilizer!).  The berries are green when young, turning red through to blue and dark purple/black as they ripen.  Our photo shows a sapling near the creek bank in Blacks Walk.  The inset shows what the berries look like in Summer.

See you next time!   (Photo courtesy Ruth – a female wood duck calling…)

 

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