Monday, 8 June 2015

Dates for the Diary

11 July Squirrel Spotlighting Soiree

  • 2-4pm nest box survey
  • 5-6:30pm Spotlighting 
Please RSVP 

Toronto Chamber Monthly Markets: Thursday 9am-3pm


  • 2nd July Winter Holiday Market
  • 6th August Taste of Winter Market
  • October Greater Toronto Spring Fair Saturday 17th


Toronto Area Sustainable Neighbourhood Group :

Wed 8th July The Hub, 97 The Boulevarde 5-6.30pm


Coal Point Progress Assoc.

Mon 13th July, Progress Hall,197 Skye Pt Rd 4-6pm

Are you looking for a soft option?

If you don’t shop at Coles then you may not realize that they have something none of the other supermarkets have…a recycling system for soft plastics.

The REDcycle bin collects all the soft plastics that you can’t put in the yellow bin such as bread bags, biscuit packets, frozen food bags, rice and pasta bags, confectionery packets, newspaper wrap, plastic shopping bags and old green bags

The processed materials get converted into outdoor furniture and signage for schools and communities by program partner Replas. It works likes this:

1. YOU COLLECT - Collect all the soft plastics that you can't recycle at home:

2. YOU DROP - Drop them into the REDcycle collection bin at Toronto Coles

3. REDcycle RECYCLES - Your packaging gets recycled into outdoor furniture for schools and communities.

TASNG Update

The Toronto Area Sustainable Neighbourhood Group has been meeting monthly, developing projects and applying for funding in partnership with local groups in the recent round of Clubs Grants. An application was submitted with Toronto Tidy Towns for Stage 2 of the Tossers Can Be Binners project which plans for signage, bins and publicity to discourage littering from fast food outlets.

Funding was also sought to enhance pedestrian egress and safety along Brighton Avenue between Ambrose and Jarret Streets and around the Amelia St bends through a collaborative partnership with LMCC and CPPA.

The community garden at The Hub is still humming along with lots of hands-on projects on the to-do list meeting regularly at the Hub on the 1st Saturday of the month from10am-2pm. Their Facebook page has lots of interesting gardening ideas and updates on current projects.

Neighbours Noticing Nature

Long term Chronicle sponsor Rod Mackay Yacht Brokerage is also a birding enthusiast…”Logged a positive audible sighting of a Powerful Owl in the vicinity of the reservoir on Coal Point Ridge on Tuesday (30/4/15) night about 6.30pm. Was calling for about 20 minutes, then stopped. Wish they would come down the hill a bit and call in my back yard!”


Nature Watch in June

Look out for…
  • Winter Solstice 22nd 
  • Pixie Cap & Greenhood Orchids appearing
  • Snakes hibernating
  • Fungi abundant
  • Acacia myrtifolia in flower

Having a fun time with Fungi

Spiky fungi discovered
If you’ve been out in the woods today you’re in for a big surprise. It seems the moisture and temperature have produced the right combination for many fungi to fruit and so become visible. On one day of landcaring purple and slimy ones, orange, yellow, brown and big–white and spikey fungi were all found.

Identifying fungi has become a little easier with ‘A guide to common fungi of the Hunter-Central River Region’ being released and available online.

The guide provides some interesting insights into fungi.

They are the second most diverse group of organisms in the world, after the arthropods. Despite their abundance there is little known about them, probably because you can’t see them most of the time. It’s estimated there are 36,000 different species of fungi in NSW- 30,000 can’t be seen with the naked eye and of the rest only about 3000 have been formally identified and named.

So what’s all the fuss about fungi? Firstly they are the main decomposers and recyclers in forest ecosystems being one of the few organisms that can break down the tough bits in wood (lignin). Also whilst they’re recycling the wood they make mineral and nutrients, especially carbon available for other plants, they also secrete a kind of glue which creates structure in the soil. Finally, in about 80-90% of land plant species there is a special relationship with the underground fungal filaments (mycorrhiza) that enables plants to access phosphorus, an element not readily available for plant uptake in Australian soils.

The amazing thing is that the plants can have more than one fungal partner and the fungi can have multiple plant partners creating a very complex and interwoven web that makes understanding how forests work rather tricky.
Spiky Fungi 1 week later

Squirrel Glider Surveying

Friday 22nd May was a wild and woolly one, as such not very good for the Squirrel Glider Spotlighting Soirée that was planned. The rescheduled event is looking bigger and better, will run on Saturday 11th July and involve checking nestboxes for occupation, soup and damper as well as a spotlight survey.


SG Surveying on Saturday 11th July

  • 2-4 pm Activity 1 -Nestboxes will be checked along the West Ridge
  • 4-5pm Informal talk and Q and A with Dr Chris McLean over soup and damper
  • 5-6:30pm Activity 2 -Stag watch and spotlighting for Squirrel Gliders

Please RSVP by email or by phone TIN 4969 1500, mob 0438 596 741. There are limited numbers and the meeting point will be provided when RSVPing. You can attend either or both activities.

Local landholders who had nestboxes installed on their property will be contacted shortly to discuss monitoring of their boxes.

More Squirrel Glider good news…

Dr Chris McLean has been awarded a Lake Macquarie City Council research grant to study the Squirrel Glider (SG) population in western Lake Macquarie. An honours student will be investigating the distribution of the local SGs, trying to get an idea on the size of the local population and looking at how big a patch they need for their habitat. This information will help to understand the impact of fragmentation of bushland on the population density and the importance of local backyards not just native gardens but as habitat for threatened species.

Fire & Restoration :
 working with fire for healthy lands

The Nature Conservation Council's biennial 2-day Fire and Restoration conference was a fantastic opportunity to hear practitioners, scientists and agencies share their findings and the latest research on using fire to assist with restoration projects. With a Hazard Reduction Burn for the protection of community assets in preparation for one of our landcare sites at Coal Point, the conference was very relevant.

The Stansfield Reserve is a 5.5ha parcel that is bounded by residences, including land owned by the Progress Association. It has been overrun by a variety of weeds ranging from ground Asparagus fern to Olive and Privet. Manual removal and chemical treatment has been attempted in the past but the resources required to transition the vegetation back to a weed-free system were beyond the capacity of the landcare group. The Asset Protection burn has provided a unique opportunity to gain some environmental outcomes in a reserve that really was in the 'too hard basket'

How Stansfield Reserve got to the state it is in became clearer when one of the speakers Andy Barker, a Vegetation Ecologist, described the transition process of vegetation communities, from treeless ecosystems to forest and open forest to rainforest. He explained how different burning intervals determine what type of vegetation community is retained or changed. For example, a grassland with regular burning will remain a grassland, if burning doesn't happen taller tree species will enter the system. There is then a window where another burn will kill these 'new' species and retain the grassland, if a burn doesn't happen then these new arrivals will be big enough to survive a burn, continue to grow and reproduce, this is the fire resistance threshold. By excluding fire in the landscape this threshold is regularly passed and so we see a transition as new plants, often weeds start to dominate.

More food for thought when Tein McDonald, from the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators, described the impacts of 'mesic weed shift' upon native bushland. When fire exclusion is coupled with long term weed presence a degraded bushland state occurs because native seed and bud banks are depleted. Weeds such as Olives and Privets, because of their fleshy (mesic) leaves, increase the humidity and shade making bushland areas become incombustible and increasing the rate of decomposition which destroys the seed bank. Tein emphasised the aim of bush regeneration should be to reverse the 'mesic shift'. This altered species composition is common in areas that have not been burnt for a long time, at Stansfield Reserve, this means the Spotted Gum Open Forest plant community that should be flourishing is not.

The process of being able to use fire as a tool in the restoration tookbox is a very complicated one. Talks on the operational and planning logistics were enlightening. One exercise to conduct three hazard reduction burns and research on about 3ha at North Head, Sydney, to assist the recovery of the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub, an Endangered Ecological Community required 18 months of extensive planning and multi agency collaboration. Agencies involved were NPWS, Police, Rural Fire Service, and included shutting down the whole North Head reserve for a day, having a ferry on hand in case evacuation of a school group at the Quarantine station was needed, planning in case the harbour had to be shut down for smoke or the nearby biogas facility exploded or smoke entered ventilation tunnels. The exercise cost $250,000. At the other end of the spectrum Hornsby Council's 1st ecological burn in a 3ha reserve bounded by residents cost $5000 plus the support of Rural Fire Service and took eight years of planning.

Why would you go through such protracted and extensive processes to attempt a burn? Because the outcomes are proving to be outstanding. At Hornsby the species have doubled and the risk to adjacent property diminished. The ongoing maintenance of the reserve will be possible by the very small bushcare group.

Other speakers talked of the process to maximise the gains from a burn. The importance of pre-burn preparation and post-burn followup was repeatedly emphasised.

The Hornsby scenario provided lots of ideas to incorporate into the local action at Coal Point. Their site had been undergoing a mesic shift as well so in preparation for the burn they undertook some weed control prior to the event to manipulate the fuel load on the site. A statement repeated at the conference was that pyro-diversity leads to biodiversity. Different plants respond differently to varying fire intensity.

The pattern of vegetation recovery after a fire was discussed with various categories of ‘responders’ now identified. There will be some species that decline, some will increase, some will be lost, new species may emerge, some will be seeding laggards, others resprouting laggards and some plants will be multitaskers. Identifying how different plants respond is important for assisting the recovery of the ecosystem after the fire as targeted weeding strategies can be put in place.

LMCC's Bushfire Management Officer, Craig Holland, has issued the Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate for 2.56ha of land off Stansfield Close, it is valid till March 2018. Although the burn was muted to go ahead last year, and this year, the delay has provided an opportunity to undertake more preparation in order optimize the environmental benefits from the process and assist in the long term environmental recovery of 5.5ha of bushland assets.

The Progress Association is in the fortunate situation of having bush regeneration resources available through the Threatened Species project to undertake preparation activities such as treating the woody weeds before the fire and following up after the burn.

Autumn Bird Survey- by Tom Clarke

A full round of autumn surveys was carried out on Thursday 23rd April in mostly fine conditions. The skies were overcast to begin with but cleared to sunny as the day warmed up. What a contrast to that of earlier in the week when gale-force winds and buckets of rain smashed the region.

Evidence of the storm’s ferocity was everywhere with plenty of large trees fallen over and the ground strewn with branches in the bushland (see Figure 1). Most trees that may have had blossom had been blown clean and checking the ground debris significant amounts of bud had been torn down still attached to their branchlets. The likelihood of scarce nectar supply, especially for small transient birds may prove to be a factor in low recording rates of these birds for several weeks.

Highlights


  • Despite the paucity of small birds (thinking that a giant leaf-blower had cleaned them all up) it was great to hear Eastern Whipbirds calling from their usual haunts. The gully above the road from Burnage Reserve and both sides of the West Ridge site evidently weathered the storm and continue to provide shelter for these ground-foraging birds. 
 
  • A flock of Australian Wood Duck were taking advantage of the flooded nature of the Carey Bay Wetland complex which mostly resembled a lake on this occasion. 
 
  • Mixed foraging flocks were restricted to the pairing–up of Golden Whistler and Grey Fantail. These duos were encountered only in the three West Ridge sites. 
 

The full report can be viewed on the Blog