Moss greeting cards

FOBIF is now selling moss greeting cards on line. The cards feature local moss photos by Bernard Slattery and Bronwyn Silver. 

Each folded card is 10 x 14.5 cm with botanical details on the back.

They are available for sale as a set of 8 with envelopes. Cost for the 8 cards including postage is $20. Click here for purchase details.

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FOBIF walks news

Alex Panelli will lead our last walk for the year in the Fryers Ridge area on Sunday 16 October. Details about this walk can be found here and Alex will post further information in a later on this site.

The FOBIF Committee has drawn up a set of commonsense guidelines for all our walks. You can view them here.

Pam Connell has just sent us these two terrific photos of the last walk in the Muckleford Nature Conservation Reserve.

Nodding Greenhood Pterostylis nutans, Muckleford. Photo Pam Connell

The group on the last leg of the walk after the rain had set in.

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The importance of ‘invisible’ things

A strong turnout at FOBIF’s AGM last Monday heard a tantalising talk and photo presentation by Patrick Kavanagh  on things you can see through macro photography. The spectacular images of tiny creatures inhabiting our flora—and each other—underlined the importance to our ecosystem of forms of life most of us know nothing about, and some of which are completely unknown to science. These tiny creatures are the foundation food of much of our more visible natural world: if ever you’ve wondered what those small birds are doing fussing around a wattle bud, Patrick’s photos gave a very strong clue. And if you’ve been frustrated by the ability of a house fly to veer miraculously fast away from your attempted swat, the photos revealed all!

Midge fossiking on a Wattle bud…There are epics going on in tiny places. Photo by Patrick Kavanagh

Patrick’s presentation recalled memories of Sarah Lloyd’s amazing talk on slime moulds at the 2015 AGM: in both cases, the audience was introduced into a mysterious world which we share, most of the time completely unaware of it.

Here are a few more glimpses into that world:

Praying Mantis nymph: photo by Patrick Kavanagh

Continue reading

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Slime moulds, orchids, wattles…

The biggest group of the year fronted grey skies and damp forecasts for FOBIF’s September walk in the Muckleford Nature Conservation Reserve yesterday. There was no lounging around in the sun, but walkers were rewarded with an experience of this forest in its best condition for years. From slime moulds to Gnat Orchids, battalions of Greenhoods and other orchids, oceans of flowering wattle and numerous wildflowers, the bush put its best foot forward. Walk leader Geoff Neville kept a leisurely pace on a ramble from the Red White and Blue Mine to Dunns Reef  and back via an undulating off track route which showed the best of what this corner can offer.

Little orange fungi with old Ironbark flowers. Photo Frances Cincotta

Our thanks to Geoff,  who even managed to bring the group back to its starting point just as the downpours started to get under way.

Here’s a rough list of stuff observed along the way, supplied by Frances Cincotta:

7 species of orchids:

Dwarf, Nodding and Tall Greenhoods, Blue Caladenia, Leopard Orchids, Gnat Orchids and Pink Fingers.

5 species of wattle:

Thin-leaf Wattle, Gold-dust Wattle, Rough Wattle, Golden Wattle, and Spreading Wattle

Also; Purple Coral-pea, Yam Daisy/Myrnong, Early Nancies (or Ladies and Gentlemen), White Marianth, Gorse Bitter-pea, Pink Bells, …

And here’s a list of birds seen or heard on the walk, supplied by Euan Moore:

-Pacific Black Duck
– Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo
– Little Pied Cormorant
– White-throated Treecreeper
– Fuscous Honeyeater
– White-naped Honeyeater
– Black-chinned Honeyeater
– Spotted Pardalote
– Striated Pardalote
– Buff-rumped Thornbill
– Striated Thornbill
– Weebill
– Black-faced Cuckooshrike
– Gray Shrike thrush
– Olive-backed Oriole
– White-winged Chough
– Little Raven
– Mistletoebird

Next month’s walk is in the Fryers Forest. Check the program for details.

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Walk on Sunday, 18 September

This Sunday’s 5 km walk will be in the Muckleford Forest. The walk will be leisurely with plenty of time to look at wildflowers including the many orchids that will be flowering now. We will be meeting at the Community House at 9.30 am or the Red White and Blue Mine at 9.50 am. Contact Geoff Nevill  0490 483 869 for more information.

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When it rains, it roars

La Nina is rolling on, and maybe we’re in danger of forgetting what it’s like when the country is turning to dust! Solid rain last week brought sights we’ve seen intermittently, but not too often in the last twenty odd years: including rivers in spate.

Have a look at the photos below, of the Coliban river upstream of the Gibbons bridge. The normally placid (or maybe tamed?) stream, cut in two by the Malmsbury/Upper Coliban dam system, found a bit of high energy last week. The levels weren’t as high as some of the epic flows of the past, but they were pretty impressive, and the waterfalls and rapids both on the river and its tributary Granite Creek put on a mighty roar.

If you want to know a bit more about this short (by world standards) but wonderful river, check out Along the Coliban, a journey through landscape and time, by Brian Coman, with photos by Harry Oldmeadow. The book is a collection of insights and reflections on social, historical and environmental themes. Coman, who grew up in the country of the upper Coliban, offers a very personal view of the river, packed with fascinating info and occasionally provocative views. We don’t have the space to do justice to a book which has a crack at subjects as diverse as murder and biodiversity, but here’s a sample passage to give an idea of its quality:

‘An upper catchment with poor retention also means less groundwater. Picture…the original condition of the upper catchment: heavily timbered, and with a great deal of bark, sticks, twigs and dead leaves forming a blanket on the ground below the trees and understorey shrubs. When heavy rain arrives, it is first arrested by the leaf canopy, thus breaking its velocity. When it does hit the surface it must first penetrate the layer of surface litter before percolating into the actual soil. This is a much gentler and longer lived percolation than that occurring on bare or thinly vegetated soil and much more water is delivered to the water table and hence, to the river itself.’

Now that’s a view of leaf litter we can subscribe to.

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Reminder: FOBIF AGM next Monday (September 12)

The Annual General Meeting of Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests will be held in the Ray Bradfield Room at 7.30 next Monday. This meeting room is in Victory Park, Castlemaine with access from the IGA carpark or Mostyn Street. The guest speaker will be Patrick Kavanagh on the topic of Photographing Nature. Everyone is welcome and refreshments will be provided. Check our earlier post for more details.

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Get in on the ground storey

Interested in digging a bit deeper into the ‘problem’ of leaf litter?

Remember: it’s the stuff which is a fire risk, and should be cleaned up…or it’s the stuff which keeps moisture in the soil, and prevents erosion…or maybe it’s both?

You might want to delve into this question by checking out The Ground Storey, a little book published by Goulburn Broken CMA. You can find it online here.

The book is directed at property owners, and has practical info on the importance of leaf litter for biodiversity–and how to manage it to reduce fire risk.

In Sebastopol Gully: that stuff lying on the ground isn’t rubbish. It’s biodiversity heaven.

Interestingly, the book takes up the challenge put by the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee:

‘Clearing of leaf litter and fallen logs, often associated with clearing and/or burning of the understorey for clearing, removes habitat for a wide variety of vertebrates and invertebrates which live in the leaf litter and in the fallen logs – including reptiles, small mammals, invertebrates, for example, spiders, molluscs, millipedes, ants etc. These impacts may affect ecological functioning. Loss of the leaf litter also exposes bare soil which will be susceptible to soil erosion and drying, and hence affects the soil biota, and may make sites more vulnerable to weed invasion.’

In other words, leaf litter has a value: it should not be thoughtlessly removed. The Goulburn-Broken book carries some eloquent info on this theme.

And the fire risk? Check chapter 7 in the book.

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Water and wattle

Despite the damp weather lately it is rather nice out in the bush if you like water or wattle or preferably both.

The photos are around Tarilta Creek and the two well known and lesser known falls there which are usually dry, taken last Tuesday (23rd August).


Photos by Jeremy Holland.



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A stroll through the Metcalfe NCR

Good numbers rocked up for FOBIF’s August walk through the Metalfe Nature Conservation Reserve yesterday. This small reserve features beautiful open valleys of grassy woodland, the understorey dominated by Wallaby Grass.

Part of FOBIF’s walking group in the reserve, which features quiet open grassy valleys.

The reserve, unusually for this region, carries no Stringybarks, giving it quite a distinctive appearance, especially given the large number of unusually old Long-leaf Box eucalypts. Leaders Barb Guerin and Lionel Jenkins organised a stimulating route through some idyllic valleys before ending in a stroll along the high ridge which bisects the reserve, with glimpses of fine views across to the west. They also cleverly arranged excellent walking weather, brisk with great patches of bright sunshine. There’s an abundance of Hovea in flower, and although the fungi season is ‘over’, there was enough around to keep the eyes to the ground.

Our thanks to Barb and Lionel for a great stroll through a perhaps under appreciated gem of a reserve. Next month’s walk is in the Muckleford forest. Check the program for details.

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