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Recent reports 2017-19

Report for 11 July 2019 Meeting and AGM

Winter nectar  Member Colette caught this scarlet honeyeater feeding from the flowers of one of our swamp mahoganies just a couple of days ago. It shows how important swamp mahoganies are, providing nectar for birds through the winter, when few other plants are flowering. Formerly common on the Central Coast, swamp mahogany forest keeps being replaced by shopping centres, housing estates and industrial areas. By regenerating it on the swampy flats along the M1 motorway, we are doing our best to counteract that

Endangered migrants Attempts to keep the swift parrot and the regent honeyeater from going extinct are getting desperate. Both migrate during the winter through the Central Coast, and the flowers of swamp mahogany provide nectar to fuel their flight. Hence our efforts to multiply them and replace those lost trees.
Eucalyptus robusta seedlings

Swamp wallabies see swamp mahogany as the very best tucker, and could eat our seedlings to the ground. Fortunately, NSW Environmental Trust have financed temporary fencing for us to protect the plantings, helping them get above wallaby reach. We already have four protected areas in place, and plan for another eight from now until July 2021. 

Diary 21 Feb Ian Eccles and Mick Budden (Greater Sydney LLS) visited. 28 Feb Michael Smith and Penny Pinkess (CC Council) inspected site. 6 March Contractor Bangalow to increase fence height of enclosures S2 and R2. Night IR photos of possum and wombat. 11 Mar possum ate plants in nursery - moved to protected site. 14 Mar “Haven of Biodiversity” photographic record (10) printed by Greater Sydney LLS. 2 April Daughter Kate of late member Ross Dawson visited her father’s plantings. 4 Apr Penny Pinkess (CCC) Risk assessment. 7 April Catchment Crawl group (CCC) addressed on site and tour. 6 June Year 1 report submitted to NSW Environmental Trust. 1 July Site visit by Cassie Baker, Property Officer for CC Council. This year 492 rainforest trees planted, 276 swamp sclerophyll trees planted.

Report for 14 February 2019 Meeting

It’s a battle. Cultivated fields on our site were abandoned about forty years ago. Then weed ecosystems took over, to be slowly replaced by two kinds of forest. The southern and northern parts have mostly become rainforest and, between them, a sclerophyll forest of paperbarks and eucalypts. The original weedy ecosystems showed what kind of forest regenerated best.

Luxuriant weeds that grow head-high show where the soil is highly fertile. With a little bit of help, this turns into rainforest. Where the main weed is whisky grass, the soil is infertile, at least for farming. However, Australian sclerophyll trees are very good at extracting what little fertility there is. Relatively infertile soils can support a thriving forest of paperbarks and gum trees. On the map, the green areas show very roughly where the rainforest is growing and where the weeds show that it’s fertile enough to support rainforest. The brown areas show where we have sclerophyll forest and where whisky grass shows the potential for its further development. 

Weeds are doubly useful. On the one hand, they show what’s in the soil, and its potential for supporting native biodiversity. On the other, they contain all the nutrients necessary for plant growth, so they make an ideal mulch. Having different soils and different kinds of forest helps biodiversity. The more fertile rainforest areas support insects and birds that are often different to those that prefer areas of swamp mahogany and paperbarks. 

Where sclerophyll forest and rainforest meet, a battle starts. If there’s a period of many years with no bushfire, rainforest tends to win. For instance, blue gums are likely to suffer from bellbirds and rainforest grows up as they die back. But the blue gums accumulate piles of inflammable debris around them. If lightening sets that ablaze, fire wipes out the rainforest trees. Blue gum saplings colonise the resulting space. Many other kinds of sclerophyll trees encourage fire and thrive with it. On the other hand rainforest trees like red cedar don’t burn well, although even cool fires will kill them. The outcome of the battle between sclerophyll and rainforest is also influenced by drought, frost, soil fertility, as well as bellbirds.  But the most important factor is fire. Our rainforest would burn if it was deprived of water. That’s why the high water table on the floodplain is so important. Trees here can always get their roots down to that water, even through long droughts.

Diary 8 Nov Ordinary Meeting on site. 15 Nov David Green and Mick Budden (Greater Sydney LLS), Colette Livermore joined. 16 Tender received from Bangalow. 19 Nov Paul Malligan (tenderer Gecko) inspected. 24 Nov 3 trees across in gales. 25/26 Nov Regina Botros (ABC Life Matters) interviews. 27 Nov Chair Ray Galway signed grant agreement 2018/RR/0065. Secretary Robyn Nutley sent PIP to Env Trust. 29 Nov Enclosure S1 completed and planted. 2 Dec Walk & talk on Aboriginal food plants by Chris Moore 25 attendees. 3 Dec Meeting to decide tender for Env Trust grant. Awarded to Bangalow. Enclosure S1 planted. 4 Dec Bangalow removed fallen tree. 6 Dec Enclosures R1, R2 Cunjevoi Corner made and planted. Mayor Jane Smith at morning tea, inspected Council infrastructure on RMS Private land. 7 Dec Mapped enclosures for Outcome 1 (rainforest) and 2 (sclerophyll). 31 Dec More GPS mapping. 7 Jan Ken Brookes (CCCouncil) visited with 1941 air photos. Planted Enclosure R1. 10 Jan Landcare NSW joined, planted R2. 15 Jan Radio interview Caroline Perryman (ABC). 17 Jan Letters to 15 Councillors re insurance support. 4 Feb group featured on ABC Life Matters. 11 Feb Booklet Palm Grove Ourimbah Creek Landcare - an oasis of biodiversity printed. S2, S3, S4 made and planted.

Report for 8 November 2018 Meeting 

We have submitted a three-year strategy to our grant provider Environmental Trust. Controlling woody weeds such as privet will still be an important job for the contractors that the grant will employ. It's obvious why privet grows out-of-control here. Back in its native China, it's eaten by many insects and other animals that have evolved along with privet. Their digestions can cope with the special chemicals in privet leaves. In a parallel way, Australian insects and animals have evolved to eat Australian plants, even the ones that contain fluoroacetate, a lethal poison for cattle.
The photo shows seedlings of the weed tree tobacco (left) and the native alphitonia (right).  Wallabies shun the poisonous (to them) tree tobacco and gobble up the alphitonia. The exotic weeds therefore have two advantages - they've left behind the organisms that used to prey on them, and our native animals won't eat them. To redress the imbalance, we have to attack the weeds, while protecting the native regeneration from the very fauna we've done so much to encourage.
Protecting the regeneration Once native trees grow up, there's less light and space available for privet and more food for native animals. Back in 2000, when we had fewer wallabies, alphitonia seedlings quickly grew to make a pioneer canopy. We still have plenty of alphitonia seedlings like the one in the photo, but now they won't survive unless we protect them by fencing off small areas. And it's not just alphitonia, the fencing will allow swamp mahogany and other food beloved of wallabies to grow. Once the trees get above wallaby height, the fences can be re-located.
Animals need habitat  The third strategy involves providing cover for native animals, whether insects, birds or mammals. Creatures need hideaway hollows to raise their families in. Our contracted workers will help us with the hard work of cutting privet and amassing it into piles. These make refuges, where bandicoots and land mullets can hide from a hungry fox. Whether artificial hollows or piles of woody privet, the more hideaways we can provide, the better the habitat will be. 
Diary 9 Aug was our AGM. 22 Aug Seeds of Acacia irrorata harvested, treated with hot water and sown. 27 Sep collected bird-cleaned cabbage palm seed and planted in bandicoot holes near Pine Tree corridor. Received copy of David Meehan's speech about us to State Parliament (Landcare Week). 29 Sep Rescued 8 pencil cedar seedlings from billabong before it floods. 1 Oct Ray mounted names of deceased former members on plaque above tea table. 3 Oct Bird photographer Colette Livermore visited and donated photographs. 4 Oct Federal Member Emma McBride visited  and did a tour of site. Darryl Evans, local university student, visited to write up project on our work. 8 Oct Planted cryptocarya, red ash, A. irrorata, lilly pilly in Cunjevoi Corner enclosure. 10 Oct Andrew McDonald, external auditor of previous 6-year grant, delivered his report. 16 Oct Secretary Robyn and Conservation Officer Brian attended webinar on reporting the new Env Trust grant. 17 Oct Regina Botros phoned on possibility of radio interview about our work. 18 Oct Planted: birdsnest fern in wattle, red cedar in Al's Track, pencil cedar, A. maidenii. 19 Oct Pencil cedar planted at Nine-and-a-half. 25 Oct Adrian Dixon collected water samples for OEH records. 29 Oct Three local bush contractors invited to submit tenders. Visit from possible tenderer Tentacle Inc. to inspect site. 30 Oct Met fisherman on site. He fishes for bass - returns them to the creek. 31 Oct. Met bird watcher from N. Qld - hoping to photo regent bowerbird. 5 Nov 8 trees planted Cunjevoi Enclosure: pencil cedar, alphitonia, cryptocarya, melicope.

Report for 9 August 2018 Meeting 

Ross Dawson Ross died suddenly at the end of July. He had been working with us for four years, and now we shall miss those stories of his about growing up in the earlier days of Ourimbah Creek. At morning tea, we shall miss him proudly showing us photos of his grandchildren growing up. Ross was another of those originals whose memories of Ourimbah Creek it's a pity not to have recorded. In the bush with us, he was a keen observer. While the rest of us would be looking for rainforest seedlings, Ross would be seeing birds as well as plants. It seems only a short time ago that Ross was the first to point out a rose robin as it flitted from tree to tree. Thanks to him, we too can now recognise them.

Diary 11 May Reported problem key not working at Rest Area. 22 June reported about key at Rest Area not working. 26 June Met Penny Pinkess (CCC) at Bunnings to collect fencing and star posts. 27 June Financial records of Environmental Trust grant 2012-2018 to Jan Schwab for auditing. 28 June Email from Anna Deegan (CCC) requesting work on Council land.5 July Anna Deegan (CCC) visited to discuss work schedule. 13 July David Bain (Environmental Trust) phoned to ask for plan of possible work around Melaleuca biconvexa. 16 July Proposal for M. biconvexa work emailed to David Bain (Env. Trust). 19 July Acacia irrorata fallen across road at Deb's Ditch cleared up. Data re Transect 2 recorded. 26 July Longtime member Ross Dawson found dead at home. 2 August Visit by State Member for The Entrance David Mehan, with Catherine Wall, together with Anne Craig, widow of former member Don Craig. 3 Aug With Anna Deegan (CCC) and Damien Moey (Bangalow Bushland Management) marked out contracted work area on Council land near Ourimbah Creek. 5 Aug Photo of defective lock at Rest Area. 7 August Funeral of longtime member Ross Dawson.

Report for 10 May 2018 Meeting

A thick invasion of cobbler's peg with black nightshade (Solanum nigrum), Indian weed (Sigesbeckia orientalis) and Brazilian fireweed (Erechtites valerianifolius) shows good rainforest potential, because it's a sign of high fertility. Such weeds used to be abundant near the Ourimbah Creek Road entrance. But, as the forest closed in, they died out. That's because this group of weeds can't even germinate under rainforest, let alone grow to maturity.
Weed nutrients going to rainforest trees
The photo shows us working to replace weeds with a cover of native trees, which will increasingly support a multitude of birds, insects, mammals, reptiles and frogs.  And the weeds can be quite literally transformed into trees, because they contain all the nutrients to make a rainforest tree
Cobbler's pegBidens pilosa is a pain to weed when its seeds burrow into woolly socks. It thrives in fertile areas and, in fact, demands that level of luxury  For a plant, luxury  means plenty of light, water, and fertiliser, all supplied at the same time. Some other plants with similar needs are black nightshade (Solanum nigrum), Indian weed (Sigesbeckia orientalisand Brazilian fireweed (Erechtites valerianifolius). Fortunately for us, they simply die out when the forest takes over.  
Privets  (Ligustrum sinense,  L. lucidumand camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora) are a different kettle of fish, because they are happy growing in the rainforest. Their seeds don't need any special temperature or light signals and can germinate in shade, where they smother native seedlings. So, unlike cobbler's peg, privets won't die out and they have to be killed. But if cobbler's peg is going to die out naturally, why bother to pull it out?  Yes, it is worthwhile, because then you then have to hand a rich store of plant fertiliser.  Weeds like that contain a near-perfect balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, together with all the other nutrients that go to make a rainforest tree. Native frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum) or pencil cedar (Polyscias murrayi) will respond with luxuriant growth when a mulch of yummy weeds is put over their root zones.  Nutrient transfer is the name of this process that helps trees to grow. Interestingly, natural means will continue the process, as the rainforest grows to maturity over the next hundred or so years. This is because birds and animals such as wombats have homes in the forest, but often feed outside it. For instance, when a wombat dies in its forest burrow, it's as good as bringing in a barrow-load of manure. Such fertiliser is mostly derived from the grasses the wombat ate in the fields outside. It's just the thing to nourish the giants of the plant world.
Diary15 Feb. Welcomed new members Jason Shave and Shelley Walker. 16 Feb.  Damien Moey (Bangalow Bushland) delivered 50 m  chicken wire & 10 star posts. 6 Mar. Gosford Seed Collectors visited to harvest Melaleuca shiressiiPollia crispataNeolitsea dealbata and Gahnia aspera for sowing. 9 Mar. Dorian Moey (Bangalow Bushland) found new species for our us, the skink Tiliqua casuarinae. 22 Mar. Funding application to Env Trust. 3 Apr. 18 Damien's team cleared tree fallen from Ourimbah Creek Rd. 6 Apr. Concluded agreement for RMS Private Land (Scott Faust, RMS). 12 Apr. Bird watchers David and Jennifer visited. John is the son of noted environmentalist John Wamsley, born at the house site now buried under the soil hill. David and Jennifer were looking for the shrike tit recently seen. 16 Apr. Visit by Rebecca Dugan and Section Leader Luke Sulkowski (CCC) to explain how Council will continue insurance cover into the future. 19 Apr. Wallaby-proof (?) enclosure repaired where a wombat bulldozed a star post and ate red ash shoots, leaving a fresh dropping. 20 Apr. 3-yr agreement concluded for RMS Shoulder concluded with John Francis (RMS).

Report for 15 February 2018 Meeting

Eucalyptus robusta regrowth
Our Landcare group cares for two endangered ecological communities. The first is lowland rainforest of the North Coast and Sydney basin, whose southern limit is the Hawkesbury River. This has survived on the fertile soils of the southern half of our site and is actively colonising the rest, wherever soils are suitable. Before European settlement, rainforest occupied the rich flood plains of Ourimbah, Wyong and Dora creeks. It was some of the first forest to be cleared, because it provided the best agricultural land of the area.

The other community is swamp sclerophyll forest of the Sydney basin. We have this regenerating in swampy areas that are less fertile. Saplings of the key tree species, swamp mahogany Eucalyptus robusta and the paperbark Melaleuca biconvexa are shown side by side in the photo. Once, this swamp forest occupied much of the coastal plain of the Central Coast. It wasn't cleared wholesale as the rainforest was, but it was progressively eaten into by years of grazing, drainage works, ringbarking, and annual burning. Then it was hit by urbanisation.

On our site, volunteer efforts to protect these two communities received new impetus when the M1 freeway was built. The site reverted to public ownership, and the freeway became a barrier to urban expansion. It effectively fenced in the surviving rainforest and swamp forest. Our work to expand both forest types allows fungi, frogs, birds and mammals to come back to this protected area. That's why we have to keep removing weeds that prevent regeneration, protect native seedlings that appear naturally, collect material for direct seeding, and grow key species up for planting. And we need ongoing grant support. Grants allow us to pay for contracted bush regeneration and the many additional helps that make the regeneration strategies more efficient. Then, these two endangered communities will become self-sustaining on our Landcare site.

Diary 20 Nov Acacia irrorata seed collection. 22 Nov Contestable Grants Team visited:Geoff Hudson, Chris Dickson, Michael Dine, Karen Wakely, Des Madden, Tami Partridge, introduced by Stephen Hardy. 24 Nov Rainforest Identification Workshop with Gwen Harden. 7 Dec Risk assessment by Penny Pinkess (CCC). Direct seeded A. irrorata on Birdsnest track. 14 Dec Christmas Landcare lunch at the Vollers house. 11 Jan Cumberland Bird Observers visit. Bushland Management planted 50 swamp mahogany. 15 Jan welcome to new member Mary-Anne Millington. 20 Jan Mystery planter Jason Shaver on site, may join group. 22 Jan Funeral of Landcarer Alan Browne. 30 Jan 60 tubes swamp mahogany sown. 2 Feb Birdsnest Track planted. 29 May deliver another generation of swamp mahogany to site nursery.

Report for 16 November 2017 Meeting

Homes for mites. If an animal is threatened by something coming to eat it, it can run away. Plants can't do that, so they have evolved all kinds of protective devices. One of our trees makes tiny homes that help protect it. The photo below shows them magnified on the underside of the tree Endiandra discolor
They are so characteristic that many people call this the domatia tree, a kind of botanical Latin for "homes tree". They've been found to give a home to mites, tiny eight-legged creatures that are closer to ticks than to insects. They are predatory mites, benefitting the tree by eating other kinds of mites that suck sap from the leaves. Greenhouse tomato growers suffer from tsap-sucking mites because they become resistant to pesticides. So some growers routinely introduce populations of predatory mites that eat the sap-sucking ones. By producing domatia, our tree does something similar.

Diary. 16 Sep Mystery planters Jason & Shelley visited. 24 Sep Swamp mahoganies(53) potted in tubes. 28 Sep Anne Craig visited to see trees planted by Don Craig (see last report). Nikki Bennetts (CCC) to discuss biconvexa work. 12 Oct Ken Brookes visited to discuss nest box placement. 19 Oct New volunteer Nora Salter welcomed. 26 Oct Storm brings trees down over road. 7 Nov Another tree down. 10 Nov Anna Deegan (CCC) to discuss biconvexa work.

Report for 14 September 2017 Meeting 

Trees may produce millions of seeds over their lives. However, the number of seedlings that eventually mature must average out close to one. Less than one, that species becomes extinct. If it achieves more than one for a limited period, it becomes a serious weed. Over the short term, we can exploit this to increase the number of any one of the species on our site, by sowing just a few of the astronomical numbers of seeds or spores that the plant produces. But to do it successfully, you must give different species different treatments. 

Group 1 Dry seeds.  For example, native frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum) and red cedar (Toona ciliata) seeds develop inside fleshy green pods. But to become useful seeds, they have to dry out. Once dried, they can be sown in moist soil and they will germinate within a couple of weeks or so. But... there are other dry seeds that will stubbornly refuse to germinate. They will just sit in the ground doing nothing, often for many years. Most wattle seeds behave like this. Each seed has a hard shell that doesn't let water in. But a quick douse with boiling water, followed by cold, fixes the problem. It makes the seed coat permeable to water, so that the seed germinates normally.

Group 2 Seeds in Fleshy Fruits. These have to be extracted from the flesh and washed. The fruit prevents germination.  The plant has to produce chemicals that stop their seeds germinating in the fruit.  This is the reason why it’s recommended that you scrape the flesh off fruits and wash the seeds that you've extracted. A short cut is to gather the seeds that have been eaten by birds. After they’ve passed through their gizzards and guts the seed has been washed clean of any germination inhibitors. This works very well for bangalow palms as well as for cryptocarias, both of which have flesh that’s difficult to remove.

Group 3 Short-lived Seeds.  Some trees produce green seeds that never dry out. If they do, they die. For instance, lilly pillies, brush cherry, guioas and cryptocaria seeds have to be extracted from their fruit and sown straight away. The lilly pillies also take a month or so to develop shoots above ground. One way of adapting to this is to mix their extracted seeds with moist compost, put the mixture in a big pot and keep it moist until little shoots appear from the seeds near the surface. For lilly pilly, this may be as much as three months. Then the germinated seeds and soil can be tipped out and the seedlings potted up before their roots get too intertwined.

Group 4 Spores. These are produced on the underside of fern fronds, released from the brown patches called sori. If you put the fern frond on a piece of white paper and leave it overnight, the brown spores will fall onto the paper and make a pretty pattern. Then, if you dust the spores over moist soil, they will germinate. This is really easy to do but, for best results, you need to attend to two details. First, it's important to use sterilised soil or compost. Put the compost in a take-away-food container and heat to boiling in the microwave oven with the lid just lightly on. After cooling the soil, dust the spores lightly over the surface. The sterilisation ensures that they won't be crowded out by the thousands of other spores that drift in on the breeze. Keep the containers in filtered light, with the lid on. The next point is that the plants that germinate won't look like the fern you got the spores from! They will look more like little liverworts, as in the photo. However, if you spray this green growth lightly from time to time, some microscopic sex will go on. Sperms will swim from a male to a female part. This is the activity that engenders fern plants shown emerging from the liverwort-like bits. Usually a great many of them.

Here they are - in this case stagshorn (elkhorn to some) ferns Platycerium bifurcatum 

Diary 17 July New member Brenda Haynes welcome! New secretary Robyn Nutley welcome! 27 July Botanical author Gwen Harden visited with Dan Keating (LLS). 3 August Jon Pike injured back inspecting nestbox. 10 August Student Kahla Butler welcome! 16 August Dan Keating (LLS) inspected Freeway shoulder work. 28 August Dead bandicoot identified as long-nosed, the commonest local species. 29 August Contractor Damien photographed sugar glider family in nestbox (Pine Tree Corridor). 1 September Discovered illegal clearing of Council land at Big Bend - photographed damage. 4 September Letter to Council General Manager re land clearing. 13 September Contractor Damien donated Acacia prominens for potting and logs for nest boxes. 

Report for 13 July 2017 Meeting 

Don’s heritage  A key initiator and energiser of our Landcare project, Don Craig, died on 28 June. Back in the year 2000, after having managed the Laycock Theatre in Gosford for several years, Don turned his immense drive and imagination to this Landcare group. He found that the RTA had land that stretched for about a kilometre along Ourimbah Creek, with patches of remnant rainforest, and he negotiated for the group to take over its care. Many of the trees he planted are now forest specimens.

The photo shows him on a return visit in 2011 from another of his successful projects, creating wetland habitat at the Pioneer Dairy. 

Don Craig

Paperbarks and swamp mahogany stands  Like Winston Churchill, Don would urge "action this day", and never mind the weather. Some hundred or so wattles (Acacia maidenii) donated by Sydney Rainforest Nursery were planted in pouring rain, trees that soon were protecting self-sown rainforest seedlings from damage by frost and sun. Hundreds more seedlings of our endangered paperbark Melaleuca biconvexa went in wherever water persisted after floods. His plantings of swamp mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta) are now providing us with seed for a new generation of trees, a growing reminder that, without Don, our project would never have started.

Diary 18 May Stephen Hardy (Env Trust) requested photo record. 23 May Brian attended Swift Parrot workshop. 29 May Direct seeded (spored?) tree fern in Palm Creek. 19 June Adam Castles (CCC) discussed road herbicide. 23 June News that RMS considering using site as offset for M. biconvexa loss at Lisarow. 24 June Adam Castles sprayed road. 27 June Jeremy Durward (RMS) with environmental consultants on site to assess M. biconvexa areas for offset. 13 July Annual General Meeting.

Report for 11 May 2017 Meeting
Moth vine was once an exotic plant that grew harmlessly in the forests of southern Brazil.  But, around 1811, a Portuguese administrator in Brazil started a botanical garden. He collected local plants and sent seeds of them to botanical gardens around the world. He distributed pretty things like lantana and moth vine, which are now so familiar to us. Moth vine seeds and plants are still offered for sale to gardeners - a plant will cost you £5 in England or $3.95 in the US. Selling it in NSW and Queensland is banned, however. 
The parasol mushroom pictured here was from Pine Tree Corridor, growing in the track from where Tony removed the barbed wire and privet. Fungi like this one break down plant debris. They set free the nutrients in the dead plant material. If it weren't for them, green plants would find it harder to grow. Some fungi have more intimate relationships with green plants. The hyacinth orchids that grow here depend on one such association.
Trees and orchids that feed on fungi  This site's hyacinth orchids only grow under the big blue gums. They interact with the roots of these trees and, more directly, with the fungus that grows around the tree roots. The gum tree helps the fungus grow by giving it some of the carbohydrate that it makes by photosynthesis. In return, the fungus feeds the tree with minerals that it needs. It acts as a kind of extended root system.  

The hyacinth orchid exploits this eucalyptus/fungus relationship by joining up with the fungus. It feeds on the carbohydrate that the eucalypt has transferred to it, in a three-way relationship. While the tree and the fungus are helping each other to grow, the hyacinth orchid seems to be just a free loader. It's a parasite on the fungus and, indirectly, on the eucalyptus. That's why the only place it can grow is within the root zone of eucalyptus trees. It doesn't need to have leaves that photosynthesise, because the gum tree does the job for it. The web article The strange and wonderful mycoheterotrophs gives many more examples of plants that have adopted this form of parasitism.

Diary 20 Feb storm blew down branches of swamp mahogany, yielding many seeds. 27 Feb rescued birdsnest ferns and stagshorns from fallen wattle. 12 Mar 14 visitors from Aust Plant Soc. 16 Mar working bee cancelled because of flood. 21 Mar Samantha Willis with 8 schoolchildren for Waterwatch. 30 Mar torrential rain stopped work at 11.30 am. 4 Apr black bittern photographed at Palm Creek crossing. 6 Apr barred frog spawn in veg above billabong photographed. 12 Apr Tony and Brian attended Chem Certification course. 13 Apr Penny (CCC) delivered knee pads, arm sleeves and spray. 4 May Dan Keating (LLS) and Damien Moey (Bangalow) visited to inspect and plan future work. 6 May 2 birdwatchers showed photo of noisy pitta, a new resident species.

Report for 9 February 2017 Meeting

Nurturing new forest

Pencil cedar, red ash, white cedar, kangaroo vine, euodia, treefern, bleeding heart and sandpaper fig in our nursery                                                    

Assisting natural regeneration 
From 2000 to 2005 we planted thousands of tiny wattles and other pioneer trees from tubes. They grew up and gave shelter for seedling trees to come up naturally. Their seeds were brought in by birds that eat the fruits of rainforest trees. Birds and the native forest depend on each other - as the forest thickens, so the birds are able to spread it further and make even more habitat for themselves. 

Drought and microclimate Back in the year 2000, our strategy was to turn the fields at the south end of the site into forest as quickly as we could. It worked out in the end but, at the time, we had a few knock backs. The biggest problem was the record drought that began in 2003, with dry summers and clear, frosty winters. Just keeping new plants alive was very labour-intensive. All the same, every passing year saw more and more native trees coming up. The plantings protected the natural regeneration against frost and sun and they hosted more birds. The birds did their job of spreading seed ever more efficiently.  

Why we're still planting Around the original patches of rainforest that survive along Ourimbah Creek, there's a big selection of species spreading outwards. However, further from the creek, you see smaller numbers and fewer species. New plantings help to diversify these areas. Easily said, but then we have to water them through dry spells and fence them off from hungry wallabies.

 10 Nov Penny (CCC) delivered 12 star posts, insect repellent, 5 handsaws + spare blades, gloves. 4 Dec met fisherman Daniel in car, with key. 7 Dec Dan Keating (LLS) shown over site with John Hogan, Gen Manager & Nikki McGrath, Communications. 8 Dec Nikki Bennetts (CCC) & David Bain (LLS) inspected M. biconvexa stands. 12 Dec Christmas get-together at Tony & Kay's place. 13 Dec shared Xmas cake with our contractors on site. 5 Jan First workday. 26 Jan Former Greencorps worker Luke visited, worked with Gecko, currently Groundsman at Palmdale Crematorium. 8 Feb Golden-crowned snake seen by Annie today.

Report for 10 November 2016 Meeting

Red-bellied blacks and other snakes 

Ideal home The red bellied black is one of our commoner snakes. We often find one basking in the sun. Our site is ideal habitat, because there are plenty of frogs to feed on. It will also eat baby black snakes, and Wikipedia has a photo of it eating the eggs of the green tree snake. Have a look at Tony's video, taken 1 Nov 2016.

How dangerous is it? Black snake venom has some components that have nasty effects if they get into your bloodstream. One of them attacks red blood cells, bursting them and liberating their haemoglobin. Others attack nerves and muscles, causing paralysis, while another causes blood to curdle. Fortunately, black snakes are rather timid. They will strike if sufficiently provoked, but they don't inject much venom when they do.

What to do if you are bitten It can help treatment if you identify the snake. This is why most advice recommends not washing or cleaning the bite of venom, because that can help with identification. Black snake bites haven't been recorded as killing anyone. However, the effects are unpleasant and symptoms can be reduced by an injection of antivenom. First, it's best to bind the limb firmly over the bite with a roller bandage from the first-aid kit, but not so tightly as to obstruct blood flow. One source recommends it to be about the tightness you would use to support a sprained ankle. Then you need to have someone get you to the nearest public hospital, where you will most likely be injected with tiger snake antivenom. Apparently this is more effective than the specific antivenom to black snake at reducing symptoms.

Small-eyed snake This is a little slate-grey snake which is only active at night. We've found it a couple of times on our site in winter, hibernating under thick cardboard put down as a mulch. Although it's very retiring and not nearly so big and impressive as a black snake, it has bitten snake handlers and caused unpleasant symptoms.

Other poisonous snakes Although they haven't yet been recorded on our site, there are three other snakes that could well be here. These are potentially more dangerous than either the black or small-eyed kinds. They are brown snakeking browntiger snake and death adder. Collectively, they provide good reason for wearing substantial footwear and leg covering in the bush.

Innocuous snakes We also have at least three other snakes: diamond pythongreen tree snake and blind snake. The last one is possibly the commonest although it stays mostly underground. It has such a small mouth that it's difficult to see how it could bite. But the bigger non-venomous snakes can bite, and you hear scary stories of pythons not letting go.

Some statistics Over the whole of Australia, some 3,000 or so people get bitten by a snake in a given year. Of these, about 500 get antivenom. Out of the 3,000, there are one or two deaths, which is about the same as the death rate from bee stings. Horses, cattle and dogs each cause many more deaths in Australia than do snakes.

 12 Sep, Brett Sherah, Manager Open Space, Nikki Bennetts and Penny Pinkess (CCC) visit. 13 Sep, Dan Keating brought two visitors from NSW Dept of Environment. 10 Oct Daniel Keaughran-Graus (former Green Corps worker on site) brought material to repair signage. 14 Oct, Penny Pinkess delivered 700 nets, 500 stakes. 17 Oct, Damien Moey took photo of bee comb in nest box. 31 Oct, Penny Pinkess delivered 3 bundles atakes, 2 bundles nets. Dan Keating (LLS) inspected completed Year 1 of 3 work on freeway shoulder. Tony recorded black snake video

Report for 8 September 2016 Meeting
Fauna Survey
Ourimbah nightlife In June our site was surveyed for fauna over several days and nights. The photo shows one of our wombats captured on automatic camera. The glowing eyes to the rear of the wombat were identified as belonging to a black rat by the survey team, which was under the direction of Garon Staines and paid for by the Central Coast Council.
Wombat at Palm Grove Ourimbah Creek LandcareHair tubes These are lengths of PVC pipe that are baited with peanut butter, fish sauce, vanilla essence, honey and rolled oats. This yummy mixture is designed to attract as wide a variety of animals as possible. In getting to the food, the animal leaves a few hairs on double-sided sticky tape. From our site, hairs of echidna, antechinus, house mouse, and swamp rat were identified. 
Three new frogs  We already had ten species of frog previously recorded for our site. By making sound recordings through the night, Garon was able able to identify three additional species - Verraux's tree frog, the whirring tree frog and the dusky toadlet. This brings the total frog numbers on our site to 13, making us something of a biological hotspot for amphibians.
Bat calls recorded Another technique was used for bats. Their high-frequency calls are beyond the range of human hearing but, by electronically recording them through the night, they can be compared as an audiogram with known species. As a result, we now have records for the chocolate wattle bat, the eastern bentwing bat and the little bentwing bat - the last two are endangered species.
Diary 21 July Penny Pinkess (CCC) delivered Roundup. 28 July Penny Pinkess came with extra tree guards and daily diary. 29 July funding submission to Central Coast Council. 2 August Robyn Urquhart (TAFE) with 4 students, 3h. 3 August Brian gave talk about site to Ourimbah Region Residents Assn. 11 August Ken Brookes visited to inspect eroded road section. 22 August road repaired by Council. 29 August Fauna Survey Report received from CCC. 1 September separate visits from Nikki Bennetts with plant guards (CCC) Ken Brookes (CCC) and Christy Woolcock (Tentacle Inc).

Report for 14 July 2016 Meeting

Frost controls survival. Freezing temperatures are only a problem in cleared areas. Under trees, temperatures stay higher, because the trees store heat from the day in their trunks, while their leafy canopy stops infrared radiation taking heat from the ground. Without that canopy, the ground is free to radiate into the cold of outer space. Rainforest seedlings are cut back by frost, so they can only regenerate after frost-resistant trees have established a protective canopy. One such hardy tree is water gum, Tristaniopsis laurina. The photo shows its leaves outlined by frost crystals on a cold morning - when they melt in the sun, the leaves don't show any damage. In contrast, frost cuts seedlings of red ash and cheese tree to the ground. Only years later, when the water gum has grown into a tree, those more delicate seedlings will be able to survive, because by then they will have a protective canopy

In fertile areas, rainforest species grow quicker than water gum, making it relatively rare. But, when there's a frost, it gains an advantage over frost-sensitive species.  Only the fittest survive on those still, cloudless nights, when cold air streams down the valley sides, making open areas white with frost. The sensitive rainforest seedlings are killed, but not water gum. Other hardy species are advantaged in the same way, including several kinds of wattle, brush myrtle, swamp mahogany, the two blue gums and turpentine. As they grow, these hardy trees slowly change the climate at ground level, making it warmer in winter and cooler in summer. And, for many subsequent years, the mix of species in the former open areas will continue to reflect the influence of those cold nights.
Diary. 12 May - Dan Keating (LLS) delivered agreement for initiating 3-year grant to manage M1 shoulder land. 16 May - Wyong Mayor, Doug Eaton and Landcare Coordinator Nikki Bennetts visited for morning tea and to inspect work. 23 May -Kariong School visited for Waterwatch work - 10 students, 2 staff. 31 May to 10 June - Garon Staines (ecologist contracted by Central Coast Council) started monitoring fauna boxes and surrounds with photos, bat recordings & hair traps. 22 June - arranged for Council to pick up garbage dumped near southern entrance.

Report for 9 May 2016 Meeting

Controlling “difficult” weeds. Sixteen years ago, we committed to keep all our weeds on site. We did this although some bushcare groups routinely “bagged” weeds such as trad and put them in the garbage collection. Back then, landfill sites could scarcely cope with the increasing amounts of Central Coast garbage. This led us to tell our grant providers that we would recycle plant nutrients on site and not put our weeds into landfill. Since then, the garbage problem hasn’t got any better. Meanwhile, we went on to integrate nutrient recycling with on-site disposal, as explained below.

Making weeds safe. The theory was to find the weakest point of each weed and then devise an effective disposal strategy. For instance, our trad doesn’t set seed, but tiny fragments can sprout and re-infest a cleared area. And so, by putting weeded bits into a corral and spraying them now and again, even trad rots down to a nutritious compost. Roots of native trees then happily grow into it. Trad piles were found useful in other ways. Research on seed development shows that wind-blown seeds, such as those of milk vine, must dry out before they can germinate. Again, theory leads to a strategy: put the unopened fruits under trad in a corral, where they never dry out and where they rot down harmlessly.

Conserving nutrient. As weeds rot, their nutrients return to the soil. This is important, because rainforest needs more nutrient than sclerophyll forest. Experimentally, a red cedar is known to use more nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and the like in getting to a given size than a gum tree. Weeds are rich sources of these nutrients, and they’re in precisely the right balance. The photo shows where former weeds have disappeared within the root zone of rainforest trees. The trees had direct access to the nutrients that were released and so they starved the weeds out. 

Diary 11 Mar: group of five Sydney (Lane Cove & Kuringai) bushwalkers shown site. 16 Mar: Wyong paperbark area weeded (in-kind contribution WSC). 31Mar: Member Ian’s 80th birthday celebrated with cake. Nikki & Penny (WSC) delivered 1000 nets, 2000 stakes. 7 Apr: Penny Pinkess (WSC) delivered leather gloves. 11 April: deed of agreement with RMS signed by public officer (Ian) and secretary (Eileen). Lyrebird wrecked species for planting. 12 Apr: delivered deed to RMS, signed by John Francis. 14 Apr: marked RMS border, posts 1 to 10. 21 Apr: new insurance cover copied to John Francis (RMS). 26 Apr: Dan Keating (LLS), Damien Moey (Bangalow Bushland Management) & Brian Patterson (Landcare) on site reviewing M1 shoulder work. 2 May: Penny delivered nets & stakes.

Report for 19 March 2016 Meeting

Mounting nestboxes Three members who attended  the "Hollows for Habitat" meeting in February learned a few hints on the best ways to mount nestboxes. This was timely, because the 14 power poles that served the Council water bores have just had the wires taken away and Council had given us 28 nestboxes to mount on them. Bangalow Bushland Management did the necessary ladder work. The boxes were mounted as advised by the experts: around 3 m from ground level and, where possible, facing the evening rather than the morning sun. An owl box was mounted in a swamp mahogany rather than on a pole, so that any owl wouldn't be frightening away smaller creatures. The boxes for ducks were put near water, and the ones for sugar gliders put on poles near tall trees so that gliders had somewhere to zoom down from. 

Wyong Paperbark work The Wyong Paperbark (Melaleuca biconvexa) used to be a common tree on the Central Coast, with our site in the middle of its range. Much of this tree's habitat has been taken over for housing and industrial land, making our stands particularly valuable. Here, Nikki, Ray and Damien are planning the best way to use Wyong Council funds for the conservation of this species. Some of our trees are being crowded out by privet, so Council's offer of helping with that is very welcome. 

Diary 28 Nov frog workshop with 44 people attending. 5 Dec trail bike riders cautioned. 7 Dec two visitors told us they call our site "The Enchanted Forest" 26 Dec a neighbour alerted that the trail bikes back; we warned father/supervisor of 3 children. 6 Jan site flooded. 7 Jan mysterious sulfide smell at North End pipe reported. 12 Jan cake to thank our contractors delivered. 14 Jan Rebecca Dugan brought diaries, net guards, hats. 17 Jan member Al Wagaener's 80th birthday. 22 & 29 Jan overhead wires removed from poles. 9 Feb hollows workshop at Ourimbah Campus attended by Ray, Robyn and Eileen. 13 Feb visiting birdwatcher pointed out crested shrike tit. 15 Feb Nikki (WSC) inspected Wyong Paperbark for work. 16 Feb birdwatcher visiting from Goulburn. Kariong School (12 pupils). 19 Feb nestboxes secured on poles. 25 Feb Penny (WSC) brought nets and stakes - work stopped at 10.30am because of heat. 5 Mar Eileen & Brian attended Landcare Forum at Budgewoi.                                                                     



eyelevel. Most of our elkhorns are tens of metres above the ground on the big old trees that line 

Ourimbah Creek. 

Welcome our new member   Elana Turner, shown here getting stuck into weed control!

Diary  12 Nov Ken Brookes visited to discuss Council Infrastructure fire regulations. 

Environmental Trust approved M&E plan. 22 Nov Samantha Willis visited to plan Frog Survey; 

Margaret and Frank Turner and Tony Voller visited to discuss weed control along their boundary 

and Brian Patterson demonstrated technique for privet control. 

23 Nov Spotlighting night. 24 Nov Frog Workshop & Survey. Fireflies were seen along the creek 

opposite the containers. 25 Nov TAFE flora and fauna workshop. 5 Dec Chris Spence MP 

presented certificate of 6-yr grant. 6 Dec Louise Greenaway (Stepping Stones Landcare) visited; 

Paul Watson & Ken Brookes Wyong Council re fire regulations. 21 Dec shared Unice’s pineapple 

cake with bush contractors. 17 Jan Estuary Management bush regen started Footts Rd.  Ordered 

Roundup and nets from Council. 24 Jan Estuary Management workers to morning tea. 31 Jan 

Nat Parks staff Deb Holloman visit. 5 Feb Schedule C to Envirofund. 6 Feb Gate lock repaired.


Report for 8 November 2012 Meeting 

Treading the trad
The photo shows visitor Tom Clemmit helping to consolidate a pile of trad weed (Tradescantia albiflora). Now it will be left to sprout, and then given a spray of glyphosate (20 ml/l of the 360 concentrate). After that, it will be allowed to rot down over summer, with only isolated sprouts needing to be resprayed. Neighbouring trees can easily access the nutrients released from the pile, the base of which is in contact with the soil. 

The trad control is part of our in-kind contribution to the Environmental Trust grant for work on the Ourimbah Creek floodplain. The grant will pay for the control of privet shown in the background (left photo), while our volunteers do follow-up maintenance and monitoring. 

Photopoints and wombats

This photo (left) shows one of the monitoring points for a 360-deg panorama photo, to be taken over the course of the grant. A wombat has chosen to poop on it in order to mark it as its territory.

Diary  14 Sep Plant nursery & planting details established for floodplain grant. 21 Sep Funded work on floodplain started at north end of site. 27 Sep group had cake with bush regen contractors to celebrate start of work. 

1 Oct Set up 20-m transect and initial vegetation monitored. 4 Oct Samantha Willis & Lucy de Jong (CEN Waterwatch) visited to arrange frog survey/workshop. 16 Oct walked site with contractor Damien to plan work. Northern trad corral built. 22 Oct Penny Pinkess delivered net guards from Council. 23 Oct Member Henny Wagenaer gained ‘Hidden Treasure’ award. Tuggerah Lakes work plan sent to Nikki Bennetts (council). 28 Oct discussed M&E Plan  (Environmental Trust) with Tony Voller. 31 Oct Bore No 8 trad corral built.   


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