FOBIF AGM: first notice

The FOBIF Annual General Meeting will be held this year on Monday August 27 at 7.30 pm. More details about the location, program and guest speaker are forthcoming.

Do you want to play a role on the FOBIF committee? Or nominate someone else to the committee? All that’s needed is a piece of paper signed by the nominee, a nominator and a seconder—all FOBIF members. There’s no need of an official form, but for convenience, here’s a sample:

I nominate_________________________________

for the position of____________________________

Signed____________________________________

Seconded__________________________________

I accept the above nomination

Signed___________________________________

Positions on the committee are President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and two ordinary members. Nominations should be in before the meeting.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

For the birds

A large group rocked up to FOBIF’s July walk on Sunday, led by Damian Kelly, author of the recently published Castlemaine Bird Walks. The walk covered a section of the north eastern corner of the Maldon Historic area. The weather was fine and cool, and the birds discreet—but they were there to see: the best list for the group was 38 species, and the prize sighting was some nest building babblers.

In the Maldon Historic Reserve yesterday: the birds were discreet, but they were there for the observer.

A shorter version of this walk is described on pages 98-102 of Damian’s guide, with a map on page 102, and suggestions on possible sightings. The book is available at Stoneman’s Bookroom, or via the Castlemaine Birds website.

An interesting feature of this walk, between Muckleford station and the Smith’s Reef dam, was the contrast between the quite spindly tree cover in the Historic area and the fine, very old eucalypts on some of the surrounding farmland: a haunting sign of the rashness of past forest management practices. The photos give an idea:

Fine old Red Box on private land alongside the Castlemaine-Maldon trail: it’s ironic that cleared farmland often has better tree specimens than adjacent public land reserves.

FOBIF walkers at the Smith’s reef dam: spindly trees are the norm in the reserve.

Posted in Nature Observations, News | Leave a comment

Something obvious

On the subject of old trees, and the lack of them, it’s worth drawing attention to a recent article in the Conversation website on their value:

‘In urban landscapes, many consider large and old eucalypts a dangerous nuisance that drop limbs, crack footpaths and occupy space that could be used for housing. But when we remove these trees they are effectively lost forever. It takes at least 100-200 years before a eucalypt reaches ecological maturity.

‘As trees mature, their branches become large and begin to grow horizontally rather than vertically, which is more attractive to many birds as perches and platforms where they can construct a nest.

Ravenswood interchange, May 2016. ‘The number of native birds in an urban park or open space declines by half with the loss of every five mature eucalypts.’ 1800 such trees were destroyed in this exercise. Is there a better way of getting safety?

‘Wildlife also use cavities inside ageing eucalypts. These are formed as the heartwood – the dead wood in the centre – decays. When a limb breaks it exposes cavities where the heartwood once occurred.

‘This is such a ubiquitous process in our forests that around 300 of Australia’s vertebrate species, such as possums, owls, ducks, parrots and bats, have evolved to use these cavities as exclusive places to roost or nest.

‘Mature trees also support high concentrations of food for animals that feed on nectar, such as honeyeaters, or seed, such as parrots.

One study found that the number of native birds in an urban park or open space declines by half with the loss of every five mature eucalypts.’

This last point is a sobering one—given, for example, that Vicroads demolished 1800 mature redgums at the Ravenswood interchange, and are looking to knock over another 3000 on the Western Highway. Of course, the reason offered was safety: but the question never seriously faced is: can safety be achieved without unnecessary destruction of the environment?

Posted in Nature Observations, News | Leave a comment

New annual bird photography competition

Birdlife banner photo by Georgina Steytler

BirdLife Australia has launched a new annual bird photography competition.  Submissions are now open and close on Monday 6 August.  There are seven different categories as well as a youth segment.

You can find all the information on this Birdlife website.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

‘Act for Birds’ roadshow next Saturday

Castlemaine has a new Birdlife Branch and Birdlife is visiting next weekend with their ‘Act for Birds’ roadshow. Jane Rusden, Convener of Castlemaine District BirdLife Group has asked FOBIF to publicise this event which be focused on grassroots advocacy, with short presentations by Beth Melick and Brendon Sydes. Local artists also have organised some fun for the kids. The group is only a few days old, so they will be celebrating the launch of Castlemaine District Birdlife Branch at the same time, with lunch and cake included. All welcome.

When: 12:30 – 3pm, Saturday 7 July
Where: Tea Room, Castlemaine Botanic Gardens, 2 Walker St, Castlemaine

You can find out more in this press release.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Symptoms

Signs: they’re everywhere, maybe too many of them. But when they start to decay, you’d have to say they give the neighbourhood a neglected character. And the signs around our public land are definitely looking neglected: out of date, rotting, falling over, they’re symptoms of the underfunding of public land management.

Poverty Gully water race: many of the signs in our bushland are in decay, sending a message that ‘no one cares’.

This air of neglect—the sense that nobody cares—is arguably one of the reasons our bushlands can be targets of abuse. If no one cares, why not dump rubbish in the bush, or ride a trail bike down an inviting gully? It’s only a bit of scrub, after all…

And here’s a twist: there are parts of our bush where we have not one, but two signs, as if DELWP’s supply chain suddenly blew a fuse and started to supply duplicates randomly around the region. Famine, feast, famine…Figure that out.

Porcupine Ridge Road: if you’re not sure the first sign is right, check it against the second!

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Habitat?

There’s rubbish and rubbish. Some dumped stuff is lethal—asbestos comes to mind. Some is a serious pest—like garden weeds that threaten to spread into the bush. Some is an eyesore that tells you the dumper has no respect for public space, and certainly no sense of responsibility for it. Think about mattresses and plastic junk.

Running shoe in Kalimna Park: unexpected habitat. Photo: Bronwyn Silver.

And some rubbish is just plain eccentric. What’s this single running shoe doing alongside the Kalimna Circuit Track? Well, one thing it’s doing is providing nice moss habitat: a reminder that sometimes rubbish can have unexpected effects—remember the dumped mattress colonised by a phascogale? This is no defence of dumping, of course. It’s one of the scourges of public land managers, and seems to get worse: it’s now costing Victorians $30 million a year in cleanup and other costs.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Winter reading

Got a moment? Have a look at these two winter gems:

First, the ever reliable Wombat Forestcare Newsletter, with high quality articles on  luminous fungi, fire in the Wombat, and a fascinating glimpse of the ‘world’s rarest fungus’, found on only one tree in the Wombat Forest…

And second, the North Central Chat, which has a great article by Bev Phillips on the old trees of Maldon. A sample:

‘Of the 61 pre-1852 original eucalypt trees recorded on public and private land in Maldon, 64 percent are Eucalyptus microcarpa (Grey Box); there are eight Eucalyptus goniocalyx (Long-leaved Box), eight Eucalyptus polyanthemos subsp. Vestita  (Red Box) and three Eucalyptus melliodora  (Yellow Box).  The recorded trees are estimated to be aged between 175 and 530 years old; 49 trees are estimated to be 200-399 years old and there are three trees estimated to be aged 400-499 years and one tree 530 years. This means that 80 percent of the trees are estimated to have started growing between the years of 1618 and 1817.’

Check them out.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

‘Creatures’ collection growing

There have been some interesting contributions to our Creatures photo collection over the past couple of weeks. Vivienne Hamilton sent us a terrific photo of this Red Wattlebird shaking itself off. 

Red Wattlebird, photo by Vivienne Hamilton

You can see more of Vivienne Hamilton’s photos in our Creatures Flickr page.

And Lynette Amaterstein has captured a Red-headed Mouse Spider at Rise and Shine in this short video (click to download).

Red-headed Mouse Spider (Missulena occatoria)

Finally thanks to Geoff Park (first 3) and Mitchell Parker (last photo) for sending in these bird photos. (Click to enlarge.)

Posted in Nature Observations, News, Photo Exhibitions | Leave a comment

News, fake news, rumour

Here’s a reminder: you have two days to give an opinion on the draft plan for indigenous co management of five parks in north central Victoria.

We’ve noticed a bit of negativity in some web discussion groups about this proposal, based, as far as we can see, on misconceptions, or worse. In our opinion the draft proposal is a generous effort to be inclusive of all groups in the community. An example, from the document:

‘Prospecting continues to be welcome in many areas of the Parks. However careful examination of the registered Aboriginal Cultural Heritage sites identified four areas with a high density of sites where prospecting is currently allowed. In addition, three small fauna refuges that include significant cultural heritage, and where prospecting is currently allowed, were identified. It is proposed to restrict prospecting in these seven areas to protect the significant heritage values.’

In other words, some tweaking has been done to arrangements for this activity. Unfortunately this has been interpreted by some as follows: ‘Dja Dja Wurrung are taking over the management and banning various user groups…prospectors would be excluded from this land grab.’ [Quotes are from a Castlemaine website.’]

Facts are still facts. Let’s judge things on that basis, and not on prejudice and rumour.

Posted in News | Comments Off on News, fake news, rumour