MT ROGERS WORKING-BEES late August early September


SUNDAY 25 AUGUST
Working from above the easement between Hammett and Carey places on the east side of Mt Rogers from 09.30 am.

MONDAY 2 SEPTEMBER
Walk, Wonder & Weed from the Wickens Place (Fraser) carpark from 09.00 am.

WEAR working-gear & hat, sturdy footwear, sunscreen. BRING water to drink & a snack. Gloves, gaiters and tools provided.

NO PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE OR LANDCARE KNOWLEDGE NEEDED!!

MT ROGERS NEWSLETTER……. AUGUST 2019


Yesterday, 5th August, we held a scheduled Working Bee though I’d fallen down on timely notices and email alerts. Angharad, Ted and I set off on a wander and weed walk through the reserve checking regrowth at the Honeysuckle patches. 
Today I walked to south of the Second Summit with double-ended hoe at the ready. Our respective treks prompted the following observations and news items.

The Cootamundra Wattles are coming into their peak flowering. Insectivorous birds will be glad of invertebrates amongst the blossoms after the continuing dryness and consequent lack of food. At several places in the Prescribed Burn area of April 2018 we continued our task of pulling out Cootamundra Wattle seedlings. This will reduce their chances of creating monocultures where little else will grow.
Wattles’ seeds split after exposure to extreme heat allowing mass germination. In a number of places we found that other wattle species had germinated and the seedlings were thriving. They, even in smaller numbers, will go on to enrich the soil for the eucalypts, native shrubs, wildflowers and grasses.
Were it not so dry it would be an interesting exercise to plant Red-Stemmed wattles, Bursaria and Cassinia in places where the locally occurring wattles haven’t come up after the burn.

Mustard and Prickly Lettuce seedlings are responding to the fertility from the ash in several places. As you’ll have seen, Phil has filled four wool bags with Mustard plants to reduce the number of seeds they have shed into the fertile ashy soil. There are dense crops of Fumitory in places too. Prickly lettuce can be eaten, according to the Weed Forager’s Handbook, but I’m not sure about the other two. Allan from TCCS has asked the operations team to collect the bags for us.

Allan is the liaison person between volunteer Landcare groups and TCCS, formerly TAMS. He has shown interest in an ALG management Trial in the area that was burnt earlier this year south of Woodger Place. Ted and Angharad are interested in being part of the organising and monitoring, with a planning meeting scheduled for Monday 26th.

Honeysuckle seems to be quiescent at the moment though we found a few green leaves at each of the sites where we’d previously removed large infestations. As with most weed situations, persistence at the sites and long-term monitoring are the keys to success.

We checked the Tree of Heaven site and “all was quiet” there also but that’s how the species behaves in winter. Some of the apparently dead stumps can be pushed over but will that stimulate suckers, we wonder?

We’re working on a ‘Management Plan’ for Mt Rogers with Angharad using the Richardsons’ weeds book to compile a list of invasives that grow on Mt Rogers.
The management plans have existed in our heads for years so a written document will be more formal.

During my meanders today I found about 50 Serrated Tussock plants to dig out.
They were south of the Second Summit. It’s quite a well-used lookout to the south-west and kangaroos regularly visit the open space which was burnt in April 2018.

After a previous and “accidental” fire in this area many Prickly Lettuce germinated. By January they were starting to flower. We cut them down just below soil level early in the morning and they didn’t regrow as it was too hot for soil moisture to help. Maybe we’ll use a similar process for the current incursions of Prickly Lettuce.

Cutting down weeds and leaving the debris to decay with the help of soil microbes is a method championed by Peter Andrews in NSW’s Bylong Valley.
The Mulloon Institute and other regenerative agriculture adherents include the use of slashed, weedy debris to shade exposed soils and retain moisture.
If the prospect of further land clearing and mining fragile Australian soils by large-scale agricultural methods worries you there are world-wide efforts to restore soils and native grasslands. Charles Massy on the Monaro and Martin Royds near Braidwood give us hope for a future locally as they’ve changed their methods by “reading the landscape” on their properties. They also slow and divert their creeks’ waters across the landscape as Phil does with Mt Rogers’ run-off flows.

Spring brings us another opportunity to read the landscape in that, with the addition of water, annual weeds readily take over vacant space in our gardens. The Weed Forager’s Handbook illustrates common edible weeds and how they can be used. Suitably prepared, weeds such as Chickweed, Fat Hen, Dandelion, Prickly Lettuce, Sticky Weed and Stinging Nettles are nutritious additions to our meals.

The under-fives are especially observant if they’re outdoors. I had a cheering experience today in the middle of the ex-Belconnen Police Station site. A young boy and his mother were busy watching and studying the Apina callisto caterpillars that were finding something to graze on amongst the site’s weeds. These incredible larvae have antifreeze in their bodies so they survive the –5C winter mornings. 



Later they pupate in tunnels they’ve dug in compacted soils before emerging as Pasture Day Moths in about April. 
I gave the family Nature Play Passports so they could record their story and perhaps go on other exploration ideas from the Nature Play website. It has activity lists for all up to the age of 12+. If you’d like FREE passports let me know and I’ll send them to you. Or Alesha from Nature Play CBR will mail them to you. 


Elan has been devising the wording for our own signs about dog behaviour and owners’ responsibilities. These have been necessary for years but there is still no word from Domestic Animal Services about signs we wanted following the On-leash – Off-leash saga in 2014. Thanks to Chris and Angharad for input on the wording.

I’ve made a note of the Information Sheets that are missing. Others are missing along Ginninderra Creek’s paths at Latham too, so I must get organised with reprinting them.


Rosemary, Mt Rogers Landcare Group Convenor…… 6258 4724……..07.08.19.

June 2019 on Mt Rogers

As another misty start to our daylight creates jewelled cobwebs on the bushes and dew-dropped branches here’s a June gathering of news for Mt Rogers.

The other day I came across an article showing that 2 hours of connection with nature each week keeps people healthier….which confirms that Mt Rogers folk are ahead of health “discoveries” by two+ decades!!

There’s a new and appealing exhibition at Belconnen Arts Centre: Barka the Forgotten River. Badger Bates' and Justine Muller’s evocative images speak for the plight of the Darling River and the diverse communities that depend on its health and water cycles. The exhibition is on until 21st July. (10am Tuesdays to and including Sundays).

I had a look at the new wetlands structure created below Lake Ginninderra’s dam wall recently. It’s at Evatt, accessible by parking at Croke Place off William Webb Drive and by walking past on the footpath to and from Belconnen beside Ginninderra Creek. 
Also nearby are the Native Grassland plots that are part of Ken Hodgkinson’s decades-long grassland restoration experimental projects. These studies show effective ways to restore the natural grasslands on which Canberra was built.
There’s another new wetlands project off Copland Drive with links to stormwater management works at Florey…and ALL AFFECT THE WATER GOING INTO GINNINDERRA CREEK and thus the Murrumbidgee and Murray-Darling Basin system.

These welcome works are part of a Federally funded initiative for urban waterways: The Healthy Waterways project has a public education H20K (H two O) component that tries to prevent pollutants from entering waterways from households. And that includes excess garden fertilisers that encourage blue-green algae under increasingly regular conditions. If anyone wants to help volunteer to stencil drains as part of this awareness campaigns please contact Waterwatch and GInninderra Catchment Group on 6278 3309.

Ann and I helped introduce CIT horticultural students to grassland management by showing them how to identify and manage African Lovegrass near the inspiring creekside Landcare site cared for by North Belconnen Landcare Group. 
Lenore initiated Landcare for Littlies there at Evatt with landcarers from babes-in-arms to ninety year olds. Check out their Facebook site for regular creek-side activities.

The next Mt Rogers working bees are scheduled for:
  • Sunday 23rd June starting from 09.30 and meeting at the Wickens Place carpark. We’ll take out a few saplings so the mowers can cut a deeper swathe of African Lovegrass beside the Wickens Place entry road.
  • Monday 1st July starting from 09.30 and meeting near the Notice Box north of Rechner Place, Flynn. We’ll continue the work on seedlings and saplings that have germinated after the Hazard Reduction Burn of April 2018.

LOOK OUT FOR CHANGING DOG LAWS, COMING SOON

The Canberra Times reports (on 25 May) that dog laws are soon to be altered. Here is the start of the article (highlight is only in this blog post) ....


'Canberra dog owners could be fined if their pet is not on a lead while on a street or footpath, under new changes proposed by the ACT government.
Owners would be set back $250 if their dog isn't on a lead outdoors including all footpaths, verges, streets, playgrounds and sportsgrounds during sporting events, and would only be allowed off-lead in designated areas.
The number of off-lead areas would also be reduced, following an earlier trial.
The proposed changes were outlined in the government's Canberra dog strategy, unveiled on Friday. ...'

The article doesn't specify whether Mt Rogers is going to be affected by the changes. 
Read the full article at: 

MT ROGERS NEWS MARCH 2019


My list of topics was begun three weeks ago and yet “putting pen to paper” is only happening now, 18th March. My apologies. (And apologies also from the poster-of-newsletters-on-the-blog, for my delay in putting this newsletter online. Ann.)

      I was surprised to receive an email saying a prescribed burn was being planned for the woodland south of Woodger Place, Fraser. The email was a sign that a genuine pattern of information and consultation had been activated but the surprise stemmed from the fact that this area between Woodger, Bingley and Wickens had been burned in 2013.
      An on-site meeting was set up and I met with Claire Beale the ecologist who had informed the April 2018 Prescribed Burn in the section nearer the Flynn playground, Andrew Halley from the Fire Management Unit, Allan McLean from TCCS and Justin from ACT Parks and Conservation Service.
      The site visit showed a build-up of Fuel Load that would make “asset protection” difficult were a fire to move up the slope into the woodland from Bingley Crescent or the Wickens Place entry road to the main carpark according to Andrew.
       There’s a cluster of planted Grevillea shrubs that’s a hazard, there’s a wattle monoculture near the bus stop and a tall wattle near one of the power lines that has obviously been missed by ACTEW’s checking crews. For the Landcare Group the most obvious fire hazard is that the woodland and the native grassland that surrounds it is almost surrounded with unmown African Lovegrass.
      Pre-burn preparation has been happening today. (I’m returning to my earlier effort). During the visit Andrew said no burn would be carried out until there had been at least 100ml of rain.  It will also be a cool, patchy burn as was the February 2013 burn.  So far today 18.03.19, we’ve had 15ml in Flynn.
     You’ll know from previous newsletters that this grassy woodland area is the most biodiverse part of Mt Rogers. It has a delightful array of wildflowers in ‘good’ seasons. There’s one rare species present and it’s extending its range after the previous burn’s heat split opened seeds that had dispersed from the original parent plant. Superb Parrots visit the trees and the “ooming”, uncommon Common Bronzewing Pigeon thrives on shelter amongst the shrubs.
      My question remains will a new burn just 6 years after the previous prescribed burn adversely affect the leaf-litter invertebrate species and native plants that make this place so special? I went up to Mt Rogers after 09.30 today and quite a bit of clearing work had already been done near the Woodger fenceline. The crew’s leader walked round the site with me and I showed him the plants that need special protection.

       I met Allan McLean, the TCCS Urban Open Space Volunteer Co-ordinator, at the on-site meeting last week. He has reported the dump of builders rubbish behind Woodger Place again for us. He’s also organised for some NO DUMPING signs for us to erect for Mt Rogers. Irnoically as this was being organised Chris reported a new dumping near the gate. It’s concrete and builders’ plastic.
       I showed Allan the hazardous state of the footpath near the Flynn playground. As you know, this problem has been reported to TCCS several times before. I also mentioned that Mt Rogers has needed  ‘dog-behaviour’ signs about its being an OFF LEASH area and cleaning-up pooch’s poo is required by law.

      Echidnas are special and several reports of sightings have come in from Mt Rogers in recent weeks. Sightings of echidnas and other interesting species can be sent to Canberra Nature Map. This volunteer-initiated and run system collects data about flora and fauna in the best tradition of both citizen and professional science. If the distribution and abundance of species is known there is greater understanding of exactly what constitutes the ACT’s “estate” and what defines the nature of our region. Volunteer landcaring in all its forms is so vital to the health of the bush capital and the plant and animal communities you work for!

         At our last Sunday working-bee Julie and Neil helped Ivan, Phil, Ted and me continue our efforts against Honeysuckle and Tree of Heaven whilst learning the cut and daub technique. On Monday 4th March Angharad, Ted and I returned to the eastern side of the reserve finding more Euphorbia plants, Chinese Pistachio and Briar Roses that needed a further ‘attack’ and visiting another Honeysuckle patch. “Touch-wood” the Honeysuckle there was limited to just a few resprouting  shoots. Lush growth of the native Weeping Grass Microlaena stipoides made the site under an ancient gum tree look really natural.
       Did you see an article in The Chronicle a couple of weeks ago featuring local bats? They are such important pollinators yet we’re often unaware of their presence because they are nocturnal. I’m sure there are plenty of bats using the habitat tree-hollows on Mt Rogers. They’re probably pollinating your fruit trees…though no doubt eat some of the fruit later in each year. We have two dead Fruit Bats on the phone wires at the end of the next street. With their broad wingspan I could understand the bats touching two electricity cables simultaneously but their being on the phone lines is a mystery.
        Sometimes I muse about the presence of the cables through many suburbs and beyond. Yesterday I saw 4 Sacred Kingfishers watching for movement on the ground from wires in Macgregor. Many birds use the cables above our garden. I think everyday bird watching would be much more challenging if the wires weren’t there. I reckon the wires spoil our views across the landscape at times but until electricity supply is decentralised I suppose we have to train our brains to air-brush wires from the views we’re enjoying!
   
        The dates for the next two Working Bees are Sunday 24th March & Monday 1st April. They will begin at 09.00am and be seeking out berries’ colour and the autumn leaves of deciduous plants that aren’t native to Australia.
Please meet at the Wickens Place carpark. We’ll provide tools, gloves if you’ll wear clothes for the expected weather and bring water to drink and enthusiasm!

Rosemary
 Mt Rogers Landcare Group  6258 4724     

Visit SNAKES ALIVE!, 14-20 January

SNAKES ALIVE!!
Snakes Alive! is on again this January, very soon, at the Botanic Gardens as usual. Here are the details, from the ACTHA webpage. 

14 - 20 JANUARY
AT THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS   

Snakes Alive! is an annual week-long exhibition showcasing a variety of Australian reptiles and amphibians, many of which are threatened, endangered and very rarely seen in the wild or captivity:
Snakes, Lizards, Frogs, Turtles, Crocodiles!

Members of the public receive an exceptional educational experience with the opportunity to learn about reptiles and amphibians in a hands-on way from dedicated ACT Herpetological Association volunteers.

Snakes Alive! is open from 10am - 4pm daily
with feeding times at 11am, 1pm and 2pm daily.

It is at the Crosbie Morrison Building, near the cafe. The building is air conditioned, perfect for escaping those hot summer days!

Funds raised through Snakes Alive! give ACTHA the opportunity to make donations to support regional conservation issues such as the Northern and Southern Corroboree Frog breeding programs and projects aimed at furthering reptile and amphibian protection and recovery, education, training, and research projects.

You may see species local to the ACT and Southern Tablelands region, such as the highly endangered Northern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne corroboree) and threatened species such as the Grassland Earless Dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla) and Striped Legless Lizard (Delma impar).

You can BUY TICKETS ONLINE, AT  www.actha.org.au/tickets 
Adults $6, Concession $5, Children $4

Enquiries: phone 0427 788 304
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This artie

AUGUST NEWS FROM MT ROGERS


On Sunday 26th August we’ll meet for a Working Bee at Mildenhall Place, Fraser, from 09.30. On Monday 3rd we’ll meet at the Wickens Place, Fraser carpark at 09.00am.

Sometimes spring’s here and then another front comes through and blows away the illusion.

BIRDS: For those of you who go across country be aware that there are over a dozen magpies keen to investigate anyone walking through the reserve on the way to the summit. The magpies might seem to swoop but are flying in closely, checking to see if you’ve brought food. Someone has been feeding magpies, so the flock has become opportunistic.

Some species of birds are definitely in the pre-nesting phase with predawn carolling from the local magpies. Cuckoos have been photographed around the region … they don’t have the “cuckoo” call but do trick other species into incubating their eggs & raising their chicks.

Perhaps someone will be lucky and find a roosting pair of Frogmouths before they begin building their cryptic nests.

This afternoon a Thornbill was bathing in a puddle on the track to the twin reservoirs. As you’d realise this puddle was a very unusual sight in the drought situation. There was a flock of small birds flying between taller trees. Amongst them was a Grey Shrike Thrush and possibly a Whistler.

Reports of Boobooks calling came through on the Canberra Ornithologists’ email-line on August 5th. There was also a report from Angharad in Fraser to the Mt Rogers email list.

Ten days before that a Mt Rogers volunteer found this delightful but newly dead Boobook in their yard in mid-Flynn. The little corpse was next wrapped in butcher’s paper and put in a plastic bag in the freezer. They then contacted the Australian National Wildlife Collection via their website https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Collections/ANWC
to ask if the Boobook would be useful for the collection. The answer was “Yes please”, so a few days later they took the bird out to the collection. It followed the route-to-science that Hayward and Ruth’s young Koel followed from Mt Rogers earlier in 2018.



Please remember that if you approach injured animals, use CAUTION. Wear gloves when handling dead animals. To report injured wildlife (including its exact location and whether it’s dead or alive), call Access Canberra (phone 13 22 81). Or you can call ACT Wildlife (phone 0432 300 033) for any injured wildlife, excluding kangaroos and snakes.
PLANTS: Steve’s been digging out Serrated Tussock plants, with a pair of Scarlet Robins as a rewarding visitor to their garden. Between his and my efforts this week, 200+ plants have 'hit the dust'. 

The honeysuckle debris we pulled from three sites has been taken away by a TCCS crew. We still have to dig out the plants’ main roots and there are at least two more patches to work on.

Ivy is proving more of a problem because each branch takes root when it touches down on soil of on a hapless tree’s trunk. We, like the Umbagong Landcare Group at Latham, intend to notify TCCS of these infestations.

Some of the north-facing leaves of an ivy on the big Banksia looked as though they’d been frosted. Some Hardenbergia bushes were rusty brown. Hopefully this was a reddish-brown reaction to the frosty nights and not dead leaves.

The creamy-flowered Early Wattles near the main carpark are almost past their flowering prime but Cootamundra Wattles will take over. Hopefully there will be some insects in the Cootamundras to feed insectivorous birds.

ECHIDNAS: at least two people have reported seeing Echidnas on Mt Rogers.

FUN: Look at this cubby, built on a fallen 'dinosaur-lookalike' trunk (photos before and after).



See you “on the hill”, soon.
Rosemary