Newstead Landcare AGM and presentation on ECHIDNAS

Newstead Landcare are delighted to have Dr Kath Handasyde from the University of Melbourne to speaker at their AGM this Thursday 18 October at 8 pm at Newstead Community Centre. The AGM will be speedy then everyone can all enjoy Kath’s presentation about one of only two Australian egg-laying mammals – the Echidna.

Echidna by Patrick Kavanagh

Echidnas are our most widely distributed mammals, occurring in all regions of Australia. They are classified as myrmecophages, feeding extensively on social insects, such as ants and termites. These are a rich and abundant food resource for which echidnas have clear adaptations, such as a long narrow snout, sticky tongue and powerful digging abilities. Echidnas are one of the relatively small number of Australian mammals that undergo hibernation.  Please come along to hear some more about these extraordinary animals in a presentation about their ecology and behaviour. Supper provided afterwards. 

All welcome. A gold coin donation will be appreciated to help cover costs.

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Creatures show opens

The FOBIF ‘Creatures’ photographic exhibition hosted by Togs Place in Lyttleton Street opened last Friday. It will run till 29 November. There are 24 photos which have been selected from the 125 photos that were sent into FOBIF. Once again thanks to everyone who participated. The photos are online here. We would also like to thank the owners of Togs, Elissa and Jason, and the cafe staff, for their support in holding this exhibition. 

Some highlights include the endangered Swift Parrot by Debbie Worland, a group of perching Juvenile Scarlet Robins by Albert Wright and a Red Wattlebird bathing by Vivienne Hamilton. The rest show photos of local fauna including a macro shot of a Grasshopper Nymph by Patrick Kavanagh, a watchful Koala and a curious Yellow-footed Antichinus by Damian Kelly. We encourage everyone to go along and have a look at this impressive show by local photographers.

You can view a PDF version of the catalogue here. All photos are for sale. For enquiries ring Bronwyn silver 0448751111.

Dusky Woodswallows by Geoff Park

Yellow-footed Antechinus by Damian Kelly

Silvereye by Arlen Truscott

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Open house on Forest Fire Management Vic activities

Forest Fire Management Victoria has invited people to come and discuss their management activities including:

  • The Joint Fuel Management Plan (previously Fire Operations Plan)
  • Domestic firewood
  • Planned burning and other fuel management activities
  • State forest and crown land management

When: Thursday 18 October 2018 from 4.00 – 7.00 pm

Where: Ray Bradfield Room, Castlemaine VIC (next to Victory Park)

For further information visit https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au or email loddonmallee.plannedburning@delwp.vic.gov.au

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TOGS exhibition starts soon

Our ‘Creatures’ Flickr album now has 116 terrific photos. The closing date for submitting photos was 1 October. The collection ranges from small invertebrates such as nymphs and spiders to larger creatures such as wallabies and echidnas.

We are now in the process of selecting photos for the TOGS exhibition which will run from October 12 till 29 November. Thanks to the 21 people who contributed photos to make this a successful project.

Some of the latest contributions.

Striated Pardalote in display with nesting material. Muckleford. Photo by Arlen Truscott, 26 September 2017

Swooping Juvenile Black Shouldered Kite. Newstead. Photo by Arlen Truscott, 20 June 2017

Australian Wood Ducks. Porcupine Flat. Photo by Steph Carter, 29th October 2016

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Alison Pouliot’s new book on fungi

The Allure of Fungi by Alison Pouliot has recently been published by the CSIRO.  

Alison’s press release:

“Although relatively little known, fungi provide the links between the terrestrial organisms and ecosystems that underpin our functioning planet.

The Allure of Fungi presents fungi through multiple perspectives – those of mycologists and ecologists, foragers and forayers, naturalists and farmers, aesthetes and artists, philosophers and Traditional Owners. It explores how a history of entrenched fears and misconceptions about fungi has led to their near absence in Australian ecological consciousness and biodiversity conservation.

Through a combination of text and visual essays, the author reflects on how aesthetic, sensate experience deepened by scientific knowledge offers the best chance for understanding fungi, the forest and human interactions with them.

Although relatively little known, fungi provide the links between the terrestrial organisms and ecosystems that underpin our functioning planet.

Features:

  • An interdisciplinary exploration of fungi, their role in nature and relationships with different cultures
  • Engaging personal anecdotes take readers on a journey of discovery into the world of fungi and fungus enthusiasts
  • Combines text and evocative visual essays in an amalgam of history, science and art.”

The Allure of Fungi has 280 pages, 82 colour photographs and costs $49.99. Purchasing details can be found here.

Alison has been a speaker at Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests and Connecting Country events and has run local workshops on fungi and photography in central Victoria for many years. She is a worldwide expert on fungi, an excellent photographer and an inspiring teacher.

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Extension of closing date for VEAC report submissions

A few weeks ago we included a post on The Victorian Environment Assessment Council draft report on its Central West Investigation.

The report recommended that a significant part of the Wombat forest be included in a new Wombat-Lerderderg National Park. A further recommendation was that the western part of the Wellsford State Forest be absorbed into the Bendigo Regional Park, and the eastern and northern section of the forest be created as a nature reserve. The main impact of these latter changes would be the protection of the Wellsford from logging. Readers will remember that Vicforests was proposing renewed logging in this magnificent box ironbark area.

Although the report does not directly cover the Mount Alexander shire we think that it is important for as many people as possible to forward written submissions supporting the positive features of the report.

The closing date for submissions has been extended from 31 October to Monday 10 December.

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Fryers Ranges walk: 15 September

Sunday saw a modestly sized group of 14 walk a circuit in the Fryers Ranges behind Taradale led by Christine Henderson.

The walk was conducted at a relaxed pace with plenty of stops for plant and wild-flower photography and identification. We were fortunate to have two experts in David Elliot and Richard Piesse among the group.

Lots of wattle were in flower especially Rough Wattle (Acacia aspera) which was especially prolific.

Highlights included Hill Flat Pea which was just emerging, lots of White and Pink Heath, a patch of Slender Dodder Laurel found by Richard and numerous clumps of the rare Elphinstone Grevillea right beside the track. Let’s hope it isn’t eliminated in the next round of track widening.

Noel Young sent us this list of bird calls he heard along the way: Choughs, White-throated Treecreeper, Yellow Robin, Grey Shrike-thrush, Spotted Pardalote, Crimson Rosella, Thornbills, Scrubwrens, Pallid Cuckoo, Fantail Cuckoo and Horsefield’s Bronze-cuckoo.

Thanks to Christine for a most enjoyable walk. Continuing with the floral theme next months walk is in the Muckleford forest led by Geoff Nevill and focusing on orchids.

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‘Creatures’ photos

The closing date for entries to the FOBIF ‘Creatures’ project is 1 October so there is still time to send us your photos. The exhibition at TOGS cafe will open on 12 October and finish at the end of November. You can find all the project details here.

To have a look at the 90 photos in our Flickr ‘Creatures’ album, click here.

Swift Parrot. Photo by Debbie Worland

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Spring [1] a sobering forecast

It’s spring! Wildflowers are a bit slow to emerge this year, but there are signs–plenty of orchids, for example. And we can always hope, though it’s been dry, and doesn’t look like it’s going to improve. Here’s the Bureau of Meteorology predictions on the chances of above average rainfall to November:

The recent VEAC Central West report puts it this way: ‘As with most of Victoria, the Central West Investigation area has already experienced some effects of climate change. For example, since the 1950s average annual rainfall in the investigation area has declined by 100 to 200 millimetres and average temperatures have increased by approximately 1.2 to 1.4 degrees. These trends are projected to continue with more hot days, increased fire weather and more frequent extreme weather events.’

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Spring [2]: is this the way to get resilience?

So, dry or not, it’s still Spring, the time to get out and see what our bush can do.

And, of course, we know that our forest managers are aware of the severe conditions, and keen to do everything they can to maintain resilience in the face of these conditions. Right?

Maybe not.

Those visiting one of our wildflower hotspots had better brace themselves for yet another experience of land managers’ road upgrades.

Typical section of Morgan’s track, September 2: This is not ‘keeping within the track footprint.’

Morgan’s Track has well and truly got the treatment from the grader: gouging of track edges, numerous scalped areas where machines have turned around, a tendency to widen the track, plus some intriguing vegetation removal. It’s not always clear what this last is for. We are often told by managers that crews are instructed to ‘stay inside the track footprint.’ This has now become a bit of a joke.

Here’s a question: if road maintenance crews are given the job of cleaning the gutters in Swanston Street, would they think it a good idea to gouge a few inches, or a few feet, out of the footpath? Possibly not: but DELWP has traditionally, it seems, considered the verges of bush tracks to be pretty flexible. A gouge here, a scalp there: it’ll all come back OK.

Maybe: but in increasingly severe climatic conditions, managers’ responsibility is to improve natural resilience, not scrape away at it…or at least, you’d think so…

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