Mt Rogers LANDCARE VOLUNTEERS managed an excellent harvest of berries and cutting and daubing of woody weeds on Sunday 22nd April before the rain became serious. Monday 7th’s working bee saw five volunteers walking and weeding as we sought out isolated African lovegrass (ALG) tussocks and those beyond the mowers’ reach. We also searched for Cotoneaster and Pyracantha berries and Briar rosehips (like those in the photo below) uphill of the path between Wickens and Mildenhall places. Usually the berries were hidden deep in other bushes or in un-frequented places under trees where the birds had perched. Where ALG was dug out we scattered local native grass seeds.
As a follow-up from this our next WORKING-BEE on SUNDAY 27TH MAY, from 9am will begin from near the twin tanks’ track with parking available in Mildenhall place.  

Thanks to Ann, Anne, Andrew, Flemming, John, Lorraine and Sue for donating time to our land-caring. Matt took bags of berries and undesirable seeds to Canberra Sand and Gravel for mulching and high-temperature composting. If you follow the tracks cross-country you’ll see evidence of Ivan’s digging-out of ALG tussocks deeper into the reserve.

You’ll have seen that recent MOWING has created a neat park-like appearance between the gravel path and the suburbs’ properties that border the reserve. This serves as a buffer of land in the event of fire and might also deter snakes from reaching yards. With the last mowing event a broader band of mowing “above the gravel path”, mowing tracks that lead to the summit and the extension of mowing into the reserve’s native grassland “behind” Woodger Place, Fraser has caused major concern. It’s impossible to clean all ALG and other weed seeds off mowing machinery. The likelihood is that all these places will have been infested with ALG seeds whereas they were relatively free of ALG before.

Procedures have now been put into place for our volunteers to map the vegetation areas of Mt Rogers with the aim of properly informing mowing unit personnel and fire management teams so that similar damage does not re-occur. There are plans for some spraying for TAMS but even more positively Ann and Steve D. have agreed to attend a Chemcert course on May 9th which will allow them to supervise spraying volunteers’ activities on Mt Rogers. We will be able to follow up what mowers and the “authorities” achieve in a more flexible timeframe.

In the last week a team from EnviroAg has SPRAYED the infestations of Blackberry and Honeysuckle that have engulfed native vegetation over the years. And in another positive development Lawrence has received approval for a Year 8 assignment to INVESTIGATE the effect of mowing on invertebrate populations. He will probably be working in the Mildenhall place area if you see some extra, small-scale mowing happening.

A few weeks ago there was a presentation about moths by Australia’s foremost moths expert, Ted Edwards. Two of his points were especially poignant: numerous moth species have larvae that are essential workers in the breaking down of natural LEAF-LITTER and the release of nutrients for other plants from this process….and there appear to be few, if any, lepidopterists joining scientists and researchers in unravelling the mysteries of Australia’s 30,000 moths species. Relevance? We need to be wary of attempts to Hazard Reduction Burn forest and native grassland areas unnaturally frequently. Ecosystems cannot afford to have soil sterilised and invertebrates decimated beyond recovery-points. It may well be that we’ll be seeing those dark moth caterpillars moving across the path soon. They’re larvae of Apina callisto moths (see the photo below) and have antifreeze within them to withstand winter’s freezing temperatures.

Over the past 5-6 years many Mt Rogers walkers have become acute OBSERVERS of happenings and wildlife. They have become much more involved with NATURE or been able to revisit relationships with plants and animals from earlier decades. Minds become CURIOUS again in spite of the pressures of our “other lives”. The OUTDOORS has brought a sense of calm and wellbeing. None of us suffers from nature deficit disorder. Mind you we often have to concentrate on our feet as the path-track has suffered from the rain’s ravages and there’s many other ACT paths waiting to be fixed. Uneven surfaces probably give us more comprehensive EXERCISE and keep our bodies adjusting to the different levels. Once stamina is established going CROSS-COUNTRY is a new challenge.
Even from the circling gravel path the VIEWS are spectacular (for example, the view south in the photo above). Towards Black Mountain we can applaud suburban and town-centre development. Towards the north-east there’s our treed suburbs’ comparisons with Gungahlin-style suburbia. Looking to Hall we can muse about remaining farmland and the effort it took to clear the hills for grazing. Across to the west sunsets inspire especially with the light constantly changing on the Brindabellas. Walk up to the 704m summit and see this in 360 degrees.

SIGHTINGS recently have included Black-shouldered kites (BSK) hovering or watching for prey from the phone-tower. Scarlet robins (see photo below) are back to spend winter and reflect the sunshine from their breast feathers as no European robin is able to do. Over 80 bird species give people reason to watch for flights and seasonal changes. It’s worth scanning the skies for raptors other than the BSKs though I still haven’t got my head around recognising birds-of-prey from their flying patterns. Other birds are easier to identify from their flight especially if they’re calling at the same time. Butterflies also reveal their identity through flight.
Run through a list of the SOUNDS made by some Mt Rogers bird species: screeching Cockatoos, Magpies (such as in photo below) having a “domestic’ or upset by a Goshawk, their carolling at more relaxed times, scolding, alarmed Eastern rosellas, laughing or mocking Kookaburras, the “ooming” of the Bronzewing pigeons, piping calls from King parrots and Eastern spinebills, duetting Peewees and chatter from Sparrows. At home our “gang-of-four” magpies have a particular, recognisable chorus which seems to be made up of the “signature tunes” of individual birds. They use this combined song to declare and protect their territory.

Sometimes our canine companions HEAR the rustle of reptiles’ movement but they, and kangaroos are masters of “freezing” to avoid discovery. One of the long-felled trees’ stumps used to be a basking-place for a Bearded Dragon lizard as it waited for the sun to warm its body (like the lizards basking in the 2nd and 3rd photos below). Striped skinks (as in the top photo below) may make enough noise for us to hear them as they scuttle away. Snakes rely on their sensing of vibrations rather than hearing. Unless “cornered” they will usually slither away from our approach.

Perhaps the SILENCE of the bush is the best sound of all. It may be punctuated by wind passing through leaves, by conversation between friends Mt Rogers has brought together and by birds’ and crickets’ contact calls. Sometimes the noise of traffic wafts up 704 m to Mt Rogers but this illustrates the freedom from roads, vehicles and fumes that the reserve offers; FRESH AIR with the occasional influence of eucalyptus, rain and damp soil.

WINTER shouldn’t be too off-putting as we all have to warm-up uphill to begin our circuits. Previous “newsletters” are available on the blog that Ann has established at (this blog site) and there’s also information through the Ginninderra Catchment Group’s website (

Thank you to all those APPRECIATORS who don’t necessarily have the time or physique for landcaring. Your caring shows how you support the Landcare Group’s volunteers with thanks and encouragement.

Rosemary, Convenor, Mt Rogers Landcare Group. 6258 4724
(In case you were wondering, Parkcarers volunteer in Canberra Nature Park, and Landcarers volunteer in other reserves. It is to be hoped there will be a merging of the apparent dichotomy soon!)

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