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!
Mt Rogers Landcare Group 6258 4724