Wintry weather didn’t deter Ted from donating two more hours to Mt Rogers on Sunday 26th. By the time Diana joined us at Snow-Gum Corner we were in a position to see snow on the distant peaks but squally wind-blown clouds obscured the ranges as seen from north of Flynn’s Jacob Place. We saw a rainbow occasionally but didn’t actually get wet as we worked, mostly in the open.
This working-bee and the one David and Phil attended on 6th July saw us taking walk-and-weed routes through the reserve to places where weed species had been recorded. We used a double-ended hoe (a versatile, lighter version of a mattock), secateurs, loppers, a Bush saw, a collecting bag and the little Y-pronged diggers many of us have for garden weeds. Gloves, a couple of buckets and some brute pulling-strength were also equipment-components – as was being “dressed for the expected weather”.
Target weeds included collecting the hips (berries) from several Briar Rose bushes that were then dug up. Small-leafed privets: some were pull-upable and others we cut off leaving the leafy debris to mark the need for a return cut-and-daub visit once the sap runs again in spring. We attacked some Broad-leaved privets, two Viburnum tinus, several Verbascum rosettes and the two large Firethorn bushes Ted adopted as his speciality. Diana applied The Bradley Method* around a cluster of boulders by carefully levering out Plantains growing amongst Rock Ferns. This way of weeding works out from the centre of an area of good vegetation though in this case we were dealing with common lawn weeds which had invaded the native species around the rocks. We located several Serrated Tussock clumps in areas we’ll return to check in 6 months’ time. We pulled out several small Cootamundra Wattles, leaving the larger ones to flower and continue to provide food and shelter for insects and birds. (The two photos immediately below show a display (potted) example of Serrated Tussock, and Serrated Tussocks in situ on Mt Rogers before being dug out - with a woman's glove included for scale.)
The wind didn’t abate, becoming more unpredictable as the morning progressed. I can’t remember hearing many birds but Mixed Feeding Flocks (MFF) did share space with us once or twice. Presumably on stormy days small birds can only wait so long for the weather to clear before hunger drives them out in search of insects which may also be reluctant to emerge from shelter. During an afternoon visit two weekends ago it was encouraging to see several families out and about in the wintry weather. Earlier mistiness then didn’t deter them and they were rewarded with distant snowy peaks as seen from Mt Rogers’ 704 m summit. A MFF that day comprised several Thornbill species, a Yellow-Faced Honeyeater, Red-Browed Finches, Wrens and Grey Fantails higher in the trees’ canopies.
More birds seem to be passing through our mid-Flynn garden this winter in search of insects and spiders. We are a regular source of nectar for Eastern Spinebills whose piping calls show their presence, flitting between one Grevillea and another. Perhaps 50 metres away an Ironbark (probably Eucalyptus sideroxylon) has been in flower for 2 months with the deep pink blossoms supplying copious nectar sips for argumentative Rainbow Lorikeets and bossy Red Wattlebirds. Although they’re a boon to the tourist industries, Lorikeets’ assertiveness has major impacts on other hollow-nesting birds as older trees become increasingly scarce due to humans’ demand for land. Lorikeets have only spread towards Mt Rogers in recent years.
Photographs from Andrea and David some years ago and Joe and Tanya recently show what Mt Rogers looked like when they were building respective homes in Schwarz Place, Flynn. The oldest trees can be seen surrounded by rank grasses and the rocks and boulders which are now refuges for lichens, mosses, Rock ferns, Urn Heath, forbs, native grasses and the reptiles which also thrive on the micro-habitats’ constant temperatures and moisture levels. Shrubs may have been cleared in the previous decades’ grazing years and/or eaten by the stock that used Mt Rogers’ Yellow Box–Red Gum Grassy Woodland that became surrounded by Flynn, Fraser, Spence and Melba in the seventies. YB–RG grassy woodland is a threatened ecosystem in Australia.
Plantings of native trees and shrubs restored the reserve’s landscape though it’s only in the last 10 years that restrictions on what native species are planted, and where, have been tightened. Suburban gardeners were given quick-growing trees, ground covers and shrubs for their bare yards with these being the parents of the weeds the Landcare Groups destroy within the reserves and the ACT’s Canberra Nature Park components.
Management of Mt Rogers is a TAMS responsibility. Mt Rogers Landcare Group has worked co-operatively with the Operations team for Belconnen/Gungahlin over the years. We’ve always sought advice from Ginninderra Catchment Group (GCG), simultaneously, on diverse topics such bike tracks, plantings, events such as the Indigenous walk, rubbish dumping, drainage, mapping native species, weeds, working-bees, and our strong community-spirit. GCG hold regular meetings with Operations Manager Brian Bathgate. When I asked Brian about the cost of the recent resurfacing of the main gravel path he said the approximately $20,000 worth of work was completed via a “competitive quoting process”. Brian is happy to receive queries about this work: P.O. Box 158, Canberra, 2601 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Spraying of African Lovegrass (ALG) has occurred in early July. This is organised by the Urban Weeds officer in recognition of the fact that Mt Rogers is relatively free of this extremely invasive species. Steve D sprays isolated ALG and Chilean Needle Grass tussocks deeper in the reserve, and Landcarers dig out Serrated Tussock as you’ll have read above. As with most weeds, persistence in monitoring and treatment of the invaders is the reliable solution.
Floriade’s Bush Friendly Garden is being planned to again display local weed species and alternative plants for Canberra region gardens. Between 10 am and 1 pm, or Noon until 3 pm, volunteer explainers from a wide range of backgrounds and with welcoming smiles greet visitors each day. The aim is to highlight the importance of planting wisely in suburban gardens to prevent berries and seeds being taken into the Bush Capital’s reserves and others’ gardens. For the explainers, engagement and conversations with others is the best part of Floriade, and the BFG and the Urban Agriculture display garden are “top attractions” for hundreds of people each year. It would be great to have more Mt Rogers community members as explainers and promoters of nature in Canberra. All the plants are clearly labelled (such as in the photo below, from 2013) and there are handouts, which mean explainers don’t need to be weed experts! Please contact me if you and friends would like to volunteer: 6258 4724.
Spring is showing through the wattles’ preparations for flowering. The prickly Early Wattle has been in flower for weeks, and the ones the Girl Guides planted in 2011 near the Wickens car-park are easy to see. You’ll notice birds’ preparations for nesting also, with the larger species – Ravens, Magpies and Currawongs – possibly being more obvious. I have SWOOPING signs in the garage if the Magpie near the Flynn playground turns rogue this year. Or you could phone Access Canberra/Canberra Connect on 13 22 81 to report his behaviour.
Next Working-bees fall on Monday 3rd August and Sunday 23rd August respectively. According to our E’s-E-2-C calendar, Monday 3rd is Bank Holiday in ACT & NSW but Canberra Connect didn’t have it recorded as a Public Holiday.
On 3rd August we’ll do a WALK, WANDER & WONDER between the two playgrounds starting from near Mildenhall Place, Fraser from 10 am and winding our way through the reserve to the Flynn Playground for about 2 hours. It will mostly be an exploring, monitoring and information sharing session rather than weeding.
On 26th August we’ll take a look at the weed situation behind Bainton Crescent’s southern end. We’ll meet at Snow-Gum Corner at 09.30. I’ll bring tools, gloves, gaiters and, hopefully, be able to drive in from the eastern end of Schwarz place, Flynn where there’s also parking space should you come by car.
BLOG: Check out the mtrogerslandcare.blogspot.com for background information and what was happening this time last year!
Rosemary, Convenor, Mt Rogers Landcare.
*To read about the Bradley Method, try http://anpsa.org.au/APOL4/dec96-5.html, an article in ‘Australian Plants online’, December 1996, by the Society for Growing Australian Plants.