Grasslands and Grassy Woodlands in SE Australia have evolved with fire for at least the last 40,000 years and likely for several million years, both as a result of natural ignition (eg lightning) and through Aboriginal burning practice. But since Europeans came and disrupted that pattern (less fire all ’round), the ecology of fire in native grasslands has changed radically. Add to this that native grasslands have been largely cleared or highly modified (heavily grazed, cultivated, cropped), you get the picture that this formerly extensive ecosystem is now threatened and in serious need of hands-on management if we want to keep the conservation values that are unique to grasslands. A major problem is that few people involved in managing grassland for nature conservation have much experience of using fire as a management tool. Continue reading
Flower Wasp (Pic from wildpollinatorcount.com)
The second citizen science ‘Wild Pollinator Count’ is on next week 12-18 April. The event is run twice a year (April & November) to highlight seasonal differences in pollinator activity. Information about the Wild Pollinator Count, including details on how to count, identification resources, a blog and other interesting links are available here: http://wildpollinatorcount.com/
This fully-grown, male Brush-tailed Phascogale (aka Tuan) was killed while crossing the Euroa-Strathbogie Rd the night before last, just near the Kelvin View Rd turn-off. Such a shame these beautiful animals are so often killed on our roads. It’s also a bit surprising, as they do spend most of their time in trees, only coming to ground occasionally, when moving from tree to tree.
They are very agile climbers as can be seen from their long, sharp claws and long limbs. Had he not met this untimely end, this male would have spent the next few months exploring his patch of Kelvin View bush , leading up to the June-August mating season. Although the species is considered to be Vulnerable to extinction in Victoria, we are fortunate to have Tuans occurring over much of the Tableland. Read on for more pictures and a map of local records. Continue reading
Surveying in the pool below the falls.
In recent years, fish ecologists from the Arthur Rylah Inst. for Environmental Research have surveyed native fish in several local streams, including the Hughes Creek and Seven Creeks. Along with discovering what’s in our streams they have also been removing pest species like European Carp (Cyprinus carpio) and Redfin Perch (Perca fluviatilis).
One of the sites they survey is the Seven Creeks below Gooram Falls. This reach of the creek is home to one of the few wild populations of Trout Cod (Maccullochella macquariensis), a close relative of the Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii). Trout Cod are a protected species in Victorian waters and for additional protection, fishing is prohibited in the Seven Creeks between Polly McQuinn’s Weir and the Galls Gap Rd bridge. This part of the Sevens also supports Macquarie Perch (Macquaria australasica), protected in most Victorian waters, including the streams of the Strathbogie Ranges. Continue reading
Image from abc.net.au
The Longwood East-Creighton’s Creek fire burnt out of control for about a week after it started from a lightning strike on Dec. 15, 2014. It burnt more than 5000 ha of farmland and bush and destroyed several homes. We’ve probably all seen spectacular images and footage of flames and fire-fighting, but what of the impact on local flora and fauna, and what now? For many landholders it’s clean-up, or rebuild time. There are burnt fences to be removed and rebuilt, stock to be feed and anxiety to be managed – these will all take time.
And for the bush too, time is what’s needed for recovery. The fire, though clearly very hot in places, generally left a patchy burn. It burnt primarily the grasses, shrubs and dry litter on the ground and only rarely burnt the crowns of trees. However, most forest trees are now shedding their leaves, which blanket the ground and go some small way to shielding the bare soil and creating some sort of habitat for ground-dwelling animals. Continue reading
Posted in Animals, Forests, Fungi, Insects, Invertebrates, Longwood East, Ruffy, Uncategorized
Tagged conservation, creighton's creek, fire, longwood east
Two trail cameras were set-up in a sheep paddock on the plains, not far from Violet Town on the NW side the Strathbogies. The cameras were secured to tree-trunks in a stand of Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa), 1 m above ground and 50 m apart. The cameras were left in position for just over one month, from 3.11.14 to 9.12.14 – guess what the cameras recorded?
It was exciting to catch curlews on film and on several different occasions – it shows they are frequenting this site regularly, most likely as a day-roost. And the sheep are to be expected – it is a grazing paddock. But the presence of foxes at the site, on several occasions, makes me nervous.
The up-shot is that the farmer, who loves his curlews, will increase his fox control in and around the paddock to give the birds a bit more breathing space.
These two photo-points were set up as part of a Trust for Nature project on Bush Stone-curlews, funded by the Victorian Government.
White-throated Gerygone (M. Dahlem)
The White-throated Gerygone (Gerygone albogularis) is one of our rarely-seen Summer migrant visitors, though you may be familiar with its delightful, tinkling, tree-top call (listen here). Also known as the White-throated Warbler or Native Canary, it migrates to our Ranges each Spring, to build a nest and raise young, before heading north or inland again in Autumn.
These small birds build hanging nests, tightly secured to twigs amongst the outer foliage of a tall-shrub or tree. The structure, with its hooded side-entrance, is safe from most predators and a marvel of design and construction, though occasionally .. the branch breaks and we get to see the nest close-up..
The end result is a masterpiece of design and construction.
The outer layer of the nest is made of strips of soft bark, twigs, down-feathers and grass.
And held firm with spider web.
Even insect wings may be part of the cladding.
The material is woven around and secured to twigs.
Looking up into the nest’s entrance.
The hooded entrance is accessed from below.
Strips of soft bark line the entrance.
Dome-shaped nest of the White-throated Gerygone, with side-entrance.
The feathers and spider web covering probably help to camouflage the nest, As well as shed water and keep the inside dry. The entrance faces down to keep the weather out. But what’s inside? Continue reading