More photos for ‘Creatures’ project

Newstead photographer, Patrick Kavanagh, has generously contributed many of his terrific nature photos to our FOBIF exhibitions. Here are five of Patrick’s most recent offerings. 

Click on each photo to enlarge. You can see our ‘Creatures’ Flickr page here and find out how to contribute to our ‘Creatures’ project here.

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More stunning photos for our ‘Creatures’ project

Antoinette Birkenbeil, one of the authors of the recently published Native plants and animals of the Chewton bushlands has just sent us two wonderful photos of a Blue-banded Bee Amegilla cingulata. Antoinette has contributed many photos to our FOBIF photo shows in the past and is a long-term resident of the Chewton bushlands.

The Blue-banded bee collects the majority of its nectar from blue flowers. Photo by Antoinette Birkenbeil.

You can find out more about our Creatures exhibition and Flickr page here

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Launch of new book on fungi

Next Saturday, 4 August, the fungi book that Joy Clusker and Ray Wallace have been working for over 3 years will be launched.

Fungi of the Bendigo Region covers the area from Kamarooka in the north to Mt Alexander in the south. There are approximately 300 species featured with short descriptions and photos for identification. The guide can be carried in a back pack. 

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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____________________________



I accept the above nomination


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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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‘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.

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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!

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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.

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