Unexpected Visitor

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Over the last couple of weeks, we have been excited to see a bird that we have not encountered in the 20 years we have been keeping records in Spring Valley Road, Flowerdale. The Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) pictured above, normally resides in the higher rainfall areas of the Kinglake National Park and nearby Mt. Disappointment. This individual was spotted one morning taking advantage of pieces of bread normally scooped up by the tribe of magpies that call our property their territory.

We were kept entertained by the hopping antics and the strange noises this bird makes for 2 weeks. It seems with the advent of temperatures over thirty degrees, our unexpected visitor has returned to the cooler gullies of the surrounding forests.

The last time we were alerted to Bowerbirds in Flowerdale was by Chris Cobern from the Upper Goulburn Landcare Network. You can read further at this link; Ol’ Blue Eyes and the Power of the Bower. If you are in Flowerdale or surrounds, you may have seen the Bowerbird also. Let us know.

 

 

Flutter by Butter Fly

Swordgrass Brown butterfly

The butterfly pictured above was photographed at Kinglake last week and is the Swordgrass Brown Butterfly (Tisiphone abeona albifascia). Keep your eyes open for the many species active now the warmer months are here.

The Great Victorian Koala Count took place in early November. One Koala was reported by a member of our group and was added to the survey. This was Ted, (refer;  If you go down in the woods today ) who shows up every few months for a snooze in one of his favourite trees and then wanders off again. Ted hadn’t been seen since March and we feared he may have become road kill or died of old age- great to see him again. More Koala stories can be found in March is Koala month or Snippets or visit Great Victorian Koala Count

Flowerdale Landcare Newsletter, November 2015

Engaging with Our Community, Our Environment

Next event;

Sunday December 13th; Coonan’s Reserve, Flowerdale

Breakfast, Bird and Brook, End of year Celebration.

8:30 a.m.

Hi everyone,

There hasn’t been a newsletter issued for some 6 months, so bringing you up to date is well overdue. In case you missed our Annual General Meeting,-  the committee is now;

President – Derek Hall

Treasurer – Claude Baxter

Assistant Treasurer – Rick Wheeler

Vice President – Paul Michael

Secretary – Pam Watson

Ordinary Committee – Steve Brennan, Steve Joblin, Carol Stadelmann, Wayne Watson

We have since engaged in National Tree Day and Schools National Tree Day plantings as well as a successful Broom Busting day at Moore’s Reserve. These activities as always were followed up by a BBQ lunch and beverage. Since then a volunteer blackberry spraying day was again undertaken by the group. Thanks to Paul Michael, Derek Hall and Steve Joblin who put in around 20 hours on this project.

Flowerdale Landcare has now turned 3 years old and held the 2nd Great Flowerdale Duck Race last weekend. Last year we had a turnout of 23 people and a real fun day on both the Silver and King Parrot Creeks. This year the Landcare Group decided to have a Picnic on the Lawn at Flowerdale Community House in the hope of attracting locals as part of a Fire Awareness initiative.

Long time resident and CFA Fire education officer Judy Baker presented information on developing a family fire plan and staying safe through the fire danger period.

Our lunch was provided through grant support from Kinglake Ranges Foundation, which meant that any donations received on the day could be presented to the Flowerdale CFA. Thanks to Viv Phelan for the tasty sandwiches and cakes prepared for us. Flowerdale Landcare president Derek Hall was proud to present Judy Baker with a cheque for $115 which will assist our CFA community volunteers who put in many hours of training on our behalf. (By the way, Madam Secretary Pam Watson’s duck was first under the Bridge which gave her the prize of a meal voucher at the Flowerdale Hotel!). Thanks to our supporters and members Steve and Viv Phelan proprietors of Flowerdale Hotel , for their support.

Flowerdale Landcare years end will be officially celebrated again at the Coonan’s Reserve with a breakfast at 8.30 a.m. on Sunday December 13th. Come along and celebrate the achievements of the year, you might even be lucky enough to see a platypus or rakali as we did at lunchtime last year. This gathering will also be the opportunity to confirm events planned for the next 12 months.

In 2016 we will have access to 5,000 plants supplied by Fifteen trees  and we are grateful to our corporate sponsors for their continued support. In 2015, Flowerdale Landcare assisted in the planting of 4,250 seedlings which I believe was the greatest effort by any of the 16 groups in the Upper Goulburn Landcare Network. This effort was supported by Fifteen Trees and Pana Chocolate

Who needs a rooster when you have a Kookaburra?

Kookaburra eggkookaburra 3 eggskookaburra babiesKookaburra ghrowing 2

For the last few weeks Heather and I have been observing with great interest the activities of a pair of Kookaburras. Normally this pair nest in a hollow of a large Candle Bark Gum (E. rubida) which we call the Hotel,  on account of the many hollows it contains and the variety of fauna that use these spaces as nest sites. We have seen at least two generations of fledgling kookaburras leave this site successfully.

One afternoon in late August, we were surprised to see the Kookaburras checking out every small hollow in the pin oaks and claret ash in our backyard. We wondered what had occurred and on checking, found that Long Billed Corellas had taken over the nest hollow of the luckless Kookaburras. We have noticed that the Long Billed and Short Billed Corellas have moved in to our locale in increasing numbers since the 2009 bushfires.

Watching the Kookaburras searching for a new site, we decided to put up a nest box that might suit them. We found they ignored this and chose instead a possum box which we had thought would be too deep for them to use. However this box had been used by the Indian Myna the previous season before they were evicted. Their nest material had filled the possum  box with rubbish having the effect of halving the depth.

It wasn’t long before the Kookaburra pair were observed mating and about a week later (on the 10th of September) the first egg was laid. By the end of a week three eggs comprised the clutch. In the second week we noticed one egg with a dimple caused by a wayward claw. This was soon enough jettisoned from the nest box as unviable.

The birds proceeded to incubate and 2 checks hatched between 7th and 9th of October. With feed ranging from starling and myna chicks through to mice and skinks and some balls of premium mince, the chicks grew rapidly. They finally left the nest box on the 6th of November.

The parents appeared to coax them out of the box by decreasing the feeding visits and cackling from a nearby branch to let the young know they had some enticing morsel for them.

Since leaving the nest, the parents have picked up the pace of the feeding routine and encouraged the chicks to follow them to various hunting posts. For the last few weeks we have been woken at around 5:30 most mornings as the parents alert the chicks that they have arrived with breakfast. We’ll have that for a few more weeks to about mid December until the chicks can fend entirely for themselves.

I’d take the sound of the Australian bush any day over the crowing of a rooster in the false dawn.

 

Fork Tailed Skink

 Now here’s something a bit different!

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What we have in this photo is a common Garden Skink, found swimming in a backyard pool. Like many reptiles it is a pretty good swimmer. Unable to climb out, it was rescued and posed for this blog before being released into leaf litter where it would feel safer.

Some of us are capable of dropping our ‘bundle’ in a crisis – many lizards have the ability of being able to drop their tails, i.e when they are about to become a meal, particularly for predators such as the Kookaburra and Grey Shrike Thrush.  The mechanism of tail dropping involves the fracturing of the vertebrae and breaking off of muscles and blood vessels at the fracture point. The detached tail then goes into muscle contraction that distracts the predator while the lizard makes its escape. The fracture point on the lizard has muscles able to clamp and quickly close blood vessels. Over some months the tail will grow back without vertebrae but with cartilage as the underlying structure.

The tail is an important asset to the lizard for storing fat, creating  greater skin surface area to aid temperature control and assisting balance. Losing the tail is detrimental until a new tail is grown. What a great adaptation though to prevent the lizard from becoming a meal.

In the case where the tail does not fully detach as in the photo above, a new tail will grow from the breakage point. So, we end up with a forked tail. Pretty Freaky!!

Busted!

The Clean-Up Australia Day project for Flowerdale is complete for 2015. We encourage local residents, walkers and fishing persons to continue collecting rubbish in the region as they come across it.

Our group of willing rubbish busters doubled in size from last year. Consequently a greater area was covered (from Flowerdale Community House to the Flowerdale Hotel – @ 7.5 km) and more rubbish was collected. Most of the rubbish was collected along the road side, mainly empty plastic bottles, cans, and coffee cups and lids. The pedestrian path along the Creek was also cleaned up.

Rubbish was clearly concentrated at culverts that take water under the road and into the King Parrot Creek. By helping to remove rubbish, these volunteers are also helping to keep the Creek environment favourable for the many creatures that inhabit the waters. Thanks to all who participated and to the Shire of Murrindindi who supported us with lunch for the volunteers and the pick up of the collected rubbish.

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Cleaning Up Flowerdale

 

Members of the Flowerdale Community and Flowerdale Landcare are meeting on Sunday, March 1st at the Community House to take part in a Clean Up Australia Day event. Registration takes place at 10:00. The event finishes with lunch supplied by the Murrindindi Shire. Come and give us a hand and enjoy the camaraderie of your community.

The kids are doing their bit too. Flowerdale Primary are holding their own Clean Up event tomorrow (Friday).

Important Event for your Diary;

Our Annual General Meeting is scheduled for 23rd of August (Sunday). Our guest speaker is one of our members who has been involved with the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Program . Whet your appetite by clicking on the following link – http://www.zoo.org.au/werribee/animals/eastern-barred-bandicoot

Platypus watchers  may want to click on the following link for some video footage taken by Wayne Watson http://youtu.be/AoBXfonRsG4

 

Snapshot 2 (24-02-2015 8-17 AM)

Valentines Day in Flowerdale

 

Yes, we are a romantic mob out here. And what could be more romantic than a BBQ and a glass of bubbly in the beautiful bushland setting of Flowerdale Community House. Twenty nine Landcare members and friends enjoyed an hour together in the evening before taking up observation points on the King Parrot Creek from the Silver Creek Road bridge to Moore’s Road, Flowerdale. Families and couples spent an hour observing the Creek at 8 sites that were suspected to be good habitat for platypus and the native water rat (rakali). A total of  7 Platypus were seen, including 1 in the Flowerdale township, and 3 together near the Hazeldene Store. Rick W. could not attend on the night but recorded his sighting the day before. These observations were a very good result as the water level in the Creek is a little low after a long dry spell. Some terrific video footage was obtained and will be shown at Flowerdale Community House at our next event. Although 7 children attended this event, none were bitten by bull ants or fell in the Creek this year.

Next Flowerdale Landcare Event; Clean Up Australia Day, March 1st, 10;00 a.m. to 12 noon

We would love to see as many hands on deck as possible. We will meet at the Flowerdale Community House for registration and work towards Hazeldene Store picking up rubbish. Some of this stuff ends up in our Creek after storms and detracts from the habitat that allows Platypus and our iconic Macquarie Perch to flourish. A BBQ lunch will be provided at Flowerdale Community House courtesy of the Murrindindi Shire.

Australia Day Award for Flowerdale Landcare Secretary

 

 

Australia Day in Flowerdale was celebrated at the Spring Valley Recreation Reserve. Again deserving members of the community received awards for their contribution to the community. This year awards went to Lachlan Hunter of Flowerdale Primary School and Nigel Parry captain of the local C.F.A., chosen by the Flowerdale Australia Day Committee from a number of nominations.

The Mayor of Murrindindi Shire also attended to award the Shire Citizen of the Year Award (2015)

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It was a great honour to be the recipient of this award as there are so many in the Shire that contribute to the fabric of community life. The Mayor Margaret Rae indicated that the award was for work done with Flowerdale Landcare, Yea Beekeepers, the Flowerdale Men’s Shed and Flowerdale Community House as well as 17 years active participation in the Strath Creek Landcare Group . In particular the Mayor highlighted the 100km White Ribbon Walk I made to Marysville, work in the Family Violence Initiative through the Men’s Shed and reviving observance of ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day in Flowerdale.

I want to express my appreciation to my partner Heather, fellow committee members and others who have given me support and mentored me in all these valuable community initiatives. I hope that the award will assist in encouraging volunteer involvement in the community and greater awareness and care of our social and natural environments.

Upcoming Events

  1. Creatures of the Creek (platypus/rakali survey)
  2. Clean Up Australia Day

See Calendar of Activities page for further details.

 

What’s the Buzz???2

DSC_0045  Flowerdale Landcare Beekeeping for Beginners Course

Yea Beekeepers

Yea Beekeepers is an informal group of some 20 or more bee enthusiasts that have been through a course run by Steve Joblin over the last 4 years. The beekeepers come together around four times a year to swap stories/experience and hold activities bee related.

The last meeting of the Flowerdale Landcare committee agreed to welcome Yea Beekeepers into the Landcare Group and to offer bee related activities as part of our Landcare calendar. The logic is that beekeeping is a livestock activity and one that requires learning about the natural environment in the task of honey production.

Our most recent activities were a Beekeeping for Beginners course and a Honey Harvest Day. The highlight of the Honey Harvest Day was not only extracting fresh honey, but also an interesting talk from our guest speaker Ric Stubbings on making Honey Mead. The tasting was also a highlight!

 

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December/January is a great time for observing native bees and wasps. When everything else is looking for shade, these insects seem to be most active. The bee in this photo is actually one of a trio of native bee species that I noticed working a bank of  Black- anthered flax lilies (Dianella revoluta)273 on a hot December afternoon in Flowerdale.

This bee as far as I can identify, is commonly known as a Green and Gold Nomia (Lipotriches australica) and is a key pollinator associated with the Pale Flax lily (Dianella longifolia) and the Black- anthered flax lily. This bee, like most of the 1500 plus species of Australian native bees is a solitary bee, each female creating her own nest. By 277contrast  the European honeybee and the native stingless bees (Trigona carbonaria) are social bees that live as a hive with a queen bee. The Green and Gold Nomia constructs her nest by burrowing into the ground and creating cells. She places the pollen and nectar that she collects into the cell as provisions for the larva that will emerge from the egg she lays. Although solitary, she can share the entrance tunnel with other females of the same species.

The second of the trio that I noticed is probably one that is more familiar  in the Flowerdale are. This bee attracts attention with its short sharp runs and hovering in front of its flower target before darting in for a split second stay then darting off to the next flower. Commonly known as the Blue-banded bee (Amegilla cingulata), another solitary bee, it is highly attracted to blue flowers. It is another important pollinator of the  flax lillies. The Blue-banded bee has a peculiar method of collecting pollen through sonication also known as ‘buzz pollination’. Sonication is the rapid vibration of the muscles in the thorax between the wings that forces the release of pollen from the anther of the flower. The ‘buzz’ is quite audible. This bee is still around despite the Black-anthered flax lily having finished flowering. It can be seen visiting salvias, lobelia, lavender in the garden and tomatoes and strawberries in the hothouse. The Blue-banded bee is an effective pollinator of tomatoes and may be a back up if varroa mite enters Australia and decimates the European honeybee population.

DSC_0049Blue banded bee (buzz pollinator)

The third of the trio caught my attention with its irridescent markings as it searched the clay bank looking like a predatory wasp. It was too elusive for me to photograph but can be found by going to www.aussiebee.com.au and looking for the Neon Cuckoo bee (Thyreus nitidulus).

As the name suggests, the Neon Cuckoo bee lays its egg in the nest cell of its host, in this case the Blue-banded bee, and then leaves. The unsuspecting Blue-banded bee does all the hard work of digging the nest burrow, storing provisions of nectar and pollen and sealing the cell only to have its own larvae starve as the Neon Cuckoo bee larvae make use of the food supply.

The moral of this story is that just by planting native lily species, you can create a small ecological community. The lilies need their native bees and the Neon Cuckoo bee needs the Blue-banded bee. More detail on this relationship can be found at www.aff.org.au/Duncan_Dianella_final.pdf.

Interested in encouraging bees to your garden? Have a look at ‘Bee Friendly – A planting guide for European Honeybees and Australian native pollinators’ through www.rirdc.gov.au/pollination

Stay tuned to the Flowerdale Landcare site for an activities involving beekeeping during the year.

 

General Monash event secured for Flowerdale

Flowerdale Landcare instigated the renewed observance of ANZAC Day in the community last year and this year is proud to support an event organised through the Men’s Shed and supported by Flowerdale Community House


Dear supporter,

Flowerdale Men’s Shed would like to invite you to attend a Flowerdale Community Dinner at 6; 00 p.m. on Saturday the 18th of April (one week out from ANZAC Day 100). The cost of dinner and dessert is $20 per person.

Our guest speaker is Tim Fischer, Vietnam Veteran and ex Deputy Prime Minister.

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Photo courtesy of Tim Fischer.

The subject of Mr. Fischer’s address will be;

“Leadership and Maestro John Monash; Australia’s Greatest Citizen General”.

Secure your bookings by calling the Flowerdale Hotel on 5780 1230

Book early as seats are limited.

Copies of Tim Fischer’s book “Maestro John Monash; Australia’s Greatest Citizen General” will be available for purchase on the night at a cost of $30.

Mr. Fischer has kindly offered to sign his book for the purchaser.

All proceeds from book sales go to the Flowerdale Men’s Shed for use in community service projects.

 

Enquiries can be made to Steve Joblin

Secretary, Flowerdale Men’s Shed

5780 1343 or mob. 0412 334 521


Flowerdale Landcare hopes that supporters of our group will book early for this event, as seats are limited.

Don’t forget Australia Day Celebrations at the Spring Valley Recreation Reserve on Monday 26th of January, brought to you by the Flowerdale Sports Club.