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.
Diary10 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 snake, king brown, tiger 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 python, green 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.
Diary12 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
Hair 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.
Report for 12 November 2015 Meeting
Shade lovers Some woody plants like wattles and turpentine flourish in the sun and fade away in heavy shade. But others shun the sun. Three shrubs that love the shade are white bolly gum, wilkiea and yellow pittosporum.
Photo Peter Woodard
White bolly gum (Neolitsea dealbata) looks almost like a camphor laurel as a seedling, but it has a different smell and soon develops bigger leaves. It has periodic flushes of growth, producing lovely pink shoots with hanging leaves. Then it rests for a month or so, before producing another flush. Most rainforest trees have specialised insects and they prefer to chew on new, tender shoots. Having a spurt of growth (good for the insects) then a period of no growth (starvation) gives the insects a boom-and-bust time. It stops them from becoming a plague.
Wilkiea (Wilkiea huegeliana) is another shade lover. In mature forest, it grows below the upper canopy together with white bolly gum. Both have fleshy fruits. These trees and fruit-eating birds like catbirds, bowerbirds and Lewin's honeyeaters depend on each other. The birds disperse the seed to new areas and the trees that result make them more suitable for the birds. Likewise, yellow pittosporum (Pittosporum revolutum) has bright red sticky seeds that birds disperse. All these shade-lovers need larger trees to shelter them.
Where the shade trees come from Why would birds spread seeds to a new area if it doesn't yet have their food trees? The answer may lie with kangaroo apple. Kangaroo apple is not a shade lover - it needs to be exposed to bright light and that's why it's so important. Clearing the weeds and exposing the soil stimulates kangaroo apple seeds to germinate. The seedlings grow rapidly, because they're fertilised by rotting weeds. By the second year after clearing they are providing a shrubby, fruiting cover. Birds love the fruits of kangaroo apple. They are attracted to them after feeding on the many rainforest fruits along the creek and that's why they come to poop rainforest seeds in the new area.
Shade management plan Clearing weeds works over a three-year management plan. Year 1 clearing exposes the soil in order to stimulate the germination of kangaroo apples. Year 2 brings in the birds to feed on the kangaroo apple fruits. Year 3 sees the kangaroo apples ageing, while lilly pillies, red ash and all kinds of vines are coming up, brought in by birds. And, as they grow, the saplings create a shady home for white bolly gum, wilkiea and yellow pittosporum.
Diary 21 Sep lyrebird seen on main track, Ray photographed wallaby and joey, echidna wandered by table at morning tea. 22 Sep Dan Keating (LLS) rang to report that RMS agreed to bush regen on border. 1 Oct Nikki Bennetts brought 500 nets and 1000 stakes. 7 Oct Christmas orchid flower spikes coming up. 8 Oct Kate Tuckson (Uni NSW) arranged student project (2 students). 13 Oct BDP interviewed by Kate Tuckson re attitudes of farmers and conservationists. 21 Oct webpage "see the forest grow" updated to include 2015 air photo. 23 Oct Andrew Robinson (Bushland Technical Officer, Kuringgai Council) visited to see progress. 30 Oct Paula Goodwin (legal agreement with RMS) phoned to report that agreement document had been passed to the legal department.
Report for 10 September 2015 Meeting
Just as pumpkins need more fertiliser than lettuces, so different native trees vary in their requirements for nutrients. They can be divided roughly into three groups -
Most greedy trees. These are all quick-growing rainforest trees that thrive when some disaster causes a gap in the forest. They have to grow fast before the gap closes up. Our best example is pencil cedar (right). On deep, fertile soil, it can grow at a prodigious rate. Other examples are red cedar and white cedar. All of them can survive as scrawny seedlings in mature forest. Then, should the neighbouring trees die, they quickly shoot up to fill the space.
Moderately greedy trees. These include most of the rainforest trees. Some are pioneers, like red ash, and these are eventually replaced by slower-growing species such as cryptocarias and cabbage palms. They also include the big blue gums and turpentines that regenerate best after a severe bushfire. These trees depend on many kinds of fungi that grow as a sheath around their roots. These fungi pop up now and again as toadstools. The fungi are more efficient than the tree at extracting the fertilising element phosphorus from the soil and they transfer it to the tree. In return, the tree supplies the fungi with sugars to grow on. We have a few places with hyacinth orchids. They steal the carbohydrate that's being supplied by the gum trees to the fungi. They're parasites, so they don't need any extra fertiliser or even leaves!
Least greedy trees. This group is a big one in Australia. They can grow on soils so poor as to be useless for agricultural crops unless fertiliser is added. The different species vary in their ability to grow on infertile sites. At the higher end, wattles transform nitrogen gas from the atmosphere to make their own nitrogenous fertiliser, although they do need small amounts of phosphorus. At the other end of the scale are the various banksia species. They are exceptionally efficient at extracting whatever tiny amounts of phosphorus can be got out of the soil. They live with microorganisms on their roots to help them do this. The level of phosphorus that is needed just to keep a pencil cedar growing is far too much for a banksia - it will choke on it and die.
These differences are important for rainforest regenerators, because weeds, whether privet, tobacco bush or black nightshade, are an invaluable resource, full of plant nutrients. Wattles don't need them, because soil and the air already supply wattles with more than they need. But greedy trees like the pencil, red and white cedars love to be mulched with weeds. As these rot, they liberate nutrients that will make the trees accelerate their growth, just as they do in mature rainforests where the surrounding trees have died.
Diary 9 July AGM and photo. 16 July 4 tonnes Bluemetal delivered by WSC. 20 July Vanessa Keyser visited (LLS) re grant proposal on RMS border. 27 July New member Robyn Nutley. 29 July Visit by Paula Goodwin (RMS Property Management), John Francis (RMS Roadside Maintenance), David Green (LLS) and Dan Keating (LLS) re grant proposal on RMS border. 6 August Group risk assessment with Penny Pinkess (WSC). 20 August Nikki Bennetts (WSC) delivered 500 plant guards & 1,000 stakes. 22 August Conducted 8 Joeys from Ourimbah Scouts around site with 2 supervisors. 3 Sep Samantha Willis (Water Watch) inspected creek bank for Year 10-12 students. 7 Sep ANSTO scientists checking tritium levels in well water to determine its age.
Report for 9 April 2015 Meeting
At the northern end of our site large-leaf privet is still producing seedlings. They are difficult to distinguish from seedlings of canthium (Cyclophyllum longipetalum), a native species that grows as a shrub or small tree in the understorey of the rainforest.
Canthium has a distinctive node, where the leaves join the stem. The opposite leaves are all in the same plane. In addition there are two tiny leaflets between the big ones. In fact canthium has four leaves at each node, although two them are very small, as the magnified image shows.
Privet, on the other hand, has opposite leaves with each whorl at right angles to its neighbours. And, as the magnified image shows, there is no tiny leaflet between the two large opposite ones.
Fortunately, you don't have to carry a microscope around to tell privet from canthium. If you tear a privet leaf into two halves, the upper skin of the leaf detaches readily from its lower skin. In contrast, the canthium leaf tears equally across both upper and lower skins.
Canthium has been christened "sweet Susie" presumably because of the strong perfume that the white flowers give off. The flowers develop orange fruits at this time of the year - reputed to be edible.
Diary 13 Feb Bird photos from Colette Livermore. 2 Mar Nicole Worrall and Liz More (Ourimbah School Landcare) visited. 3 Mar Robyn Urquhart (TAFE) with 6 students for plant ID. 4 Mar surveyed Transect 2. Penny Pinkess delivered 400 net guards and 500 stakes. EOI for freeway border work submitted to Vanessa Keyser (LLS).
Report for 12 February 2015 Meeting
Weed germination While trad fortunately doesn’t set seed, weeds like nightshade and Brazilian fireweed have seeds that stay in the soil for years. They are “asleep”, but can germinate when conditions suit them, that is, when a dense canopy of privet is killed. Botanists have spent years in finding out three of the conditions that tell the seed when to wake up.
1: The seeds sleep as long as the day and night temperatures of the soil stay nearly the same. That's the case under dense privet. When the night temperature of the soil is different to the day, it's a signal for the seed to germinate. That corresponds to the canopy being opened up.
2: Seeds need light to make them wake up. Red light wakes them and near infra-red light sends them back to sleep. Opening up the forest gets more of the wake-up light mixture to the ground.
3: The fertiliser nitrate works too. When
privet is killed, fungi and bacteria release nitrate, which stimulates germination.
Diary. 13 Nov Ken Brookes (WSC) brought printouts of historic air photographs showing progress since 1998. 15 Nov group of 8 birdwatchers from Sydney visited. 17 Nov member Ken Frazer's funeral. Penny Pinkess (WSC) delivered 20l Roundup. 21 Nov David Green (LLS) phoned to report on his attempts to contact RMS re privet on freeway shoulder, but no meeting arranged yet. 3 Dec contacted Penny Pinkess re defective lock on Rest Area access gate. 2 members Attended Wycare Christmas party. 10 Dec lock reported to be fixed. 18 Dec Penny Pinkess delivered cloth for weed corral construction. 20 Dec David Green (LLS) reported that a meeting with John Francis (RMS Mardi Depot) will be arranged for January 2015. 5 Jan Latham's snipe sighted near Black Rock Pond. 23 Jan 4 members attended Australia Day award nominees dinner at WSC.
Our oldest member, Ken Frazer (1930-2014) died suddenly on Monday 10 November. Active to the last, he was at the Ourimbah Creek cricket match the day before.
Wattle Corner and the Duck Pond Ken had told us how the field north of the tea table on the Landcare site used to grow beans in the 1940s. He earned some useful cash in his teenage years helping with their harvest. What we call the Duck Pond came in useful as a source of water to wash the beans before they were sent to market. The left-hand photo shows Ken aged 23, the right hand one as we knew him, photographed at our AGM.
Diary 11 Sep Penny Pinkess delivered 28 nestboxes for the power poles and, on 15 Sep, 50 plant guards. 25 Sep Paul Watson (WSC) visited to say bore wires to be removed. Ausgrid employee met using site for lunchtime exercise. 9 Oct 3 Newcastle Uni students using us for their degree projects. Penny Pinkess delivered 1500 bamboo stakes, 150 nets, 12 plastic star posts and tools.
Coral fungus This brilliant splash of orange grew out of a pile of privet sticks, encouraged by our damp autumn. Coral fungi are a diverse group that can be white, pink or purple as well as orange. These are the fruiting bodies that liberate dust-like spores which the wind disperses. Presumably the fungus continues to grow, feeding on the wood that it’s rotting and long after the fruiting body has disappeared.
Spring flowers are really here now, with Gosford wattle, golden wattle, sassafras and clematis all out.
Diary 21 July stray German shepherd dog found on site. 29 July Robyn Urquart came with 12 TAFE students. 5 August sent request for $2,500 funding from Wyong Council. 11 Aug Ken Brookes (WSC) brought historic air photos 1998 and April 2014. New board members of Local Land Services inspected site and met members in the evening. 21 Aug Ian rang owner of German shepherd and black dog that are found hunting on site. Left message. Generator and fuel container removed by WSC. 4 Sep Photographers Hilda and Kelly-Anne (WSC) came to photograph the group at work. The photos will be posted on a new Council website illustrating the work of volunteers in the shire.
History in air photographs The two photos show the changes in our Landcare site from 1941 (upper photo) to the latest Google Earth in 2010. Footes Road is outlined in red, with the later addition of the connection to Palmdale dotted.
restore rainforest remnants (dark patches along the creek in the 1941 photo) expand back onto the floodplain and Wyong paperbark forest, endangered in the area, to expand into wetlands;
Diary 17 Feb Ian attended all-day first aid refresher course. 26 Feb 10 TAFE students on study visit. Visit & inspection by Wyong Council staff Maxine Kenyon (Director, Community Services), Nikki Bennetts (Landcare Coordinator), Penny Pinkus (Support Officer). 11 Mar Peter Murray (WSC Roads & Drainage) contacted re entrance access. 15 Mar Terry Downley of Penrose Landcare visited site. 20 Mar Carolyn Jenkinson & Dan Keating (LLS) inspected site progress. 29 Mar 24 members of CC Birding Group visit. 7 Apr Penny Pinkus (WSC) conducted risk assessment.
Rare tree now fruiting The photo shows a seedling tree of the yellow ash, Emmenosperma alphitonioides
This year was also a boom year for the fruiting of guioa, Guioa semiglauca. The fruit is small, but tastes pleasantly acid, rather like tamarind. Unlike the yellow ash, the seeds die if they are dried, so we sow them immediately after sweeping them up from beneath the tree.
Road as a natural habitat We have a dirt road running right through our site that we keep clear of fallen trees, but which is progressively developing into a tunnel that is bridged by a rainforest canopy. Blue metal (basalt chippings) keep it from becoming too muddy in wet weather. Brown cuckoo doves and other species of native pigeon often can be seen on the road, eating grit. Under the rainforest canopy the pigeons won’t be so easily seen by hawks, while the basalt grit is rich in many minerals as well as being tough enough to help grind up seeds. Another user of the road is the bassian (or scaly) thrush. Some reports refer to it as “secretive”. On our site it doesn’t seem to avoid people walking along the road, and just runs along a few metres ahead of them. However, it blends in with the leaf litter so effectively that it seems to disappear as soon as it stops between runs. And then, particularly this year, brush turkey chicks like to use the road as they fossick for insects.
First aid box now animal habitat When our first aid box was vandalised, we changed it to hold our daily record of working hours. Now, a brown antechinus has taken the box over and will presumably keep it free of any creepy crawlies that might bite us when we take out the record book. It is yet another example of how wildlife can coexist comfortably with infrastructure, as long as suitable native vegetation can be maintained around it.
Diary 11 Dec visit by 29 members of Cumberland Bird Observer’s Club. 17 Dec Wycare Christmas Party. 15 Jan Council slashed around bores, except No 8. 16 Jan gathered and sowed seeds of Guioa semiglauca . 23 Jan Ken Brookes (WSC) visited to discuss maintenance under power lines. 25 Jan Group of 12 from “Follow that Bird”. 4 Feb Council re-graded road to bores. 5 Feb Council lowered water level behind weir for repairs to fish ladder.
Report for 14 November 2013 Meeting
Drought breaks The drought of the past four months was only relieved by odd showers that never saturated the soil. That’s no bother to larger trees, because they have deep roots that suck up water stored in the floodplain soil. Small seedlings have a harder time, however. We can’t plant seedling trees during dry spells, because we don’t have the time and energy to keep them watered when they are scattered over our large site. But now we suddenly have frontal rain from the so
What rainforest and wetland plants like Since we started planting trees way back in the year 2000, we have been able to learn what is most successful – that each species thrives best if we satisfy its individual requirements. For instance, we have had pencil cedar saplings die where floodwaters have waterlogged their roots, while bangalow palms have grown on unaffected. On the other hand, seedling bangalow palms have suffered far more in periodic droughts and, every winter, we lose some because wombats and wallabies like to eat their succulent hearts. Wyong paperbarks are not harmed by floods, but they don’t like being shaded. This means that they die if they are crowded out by rainforest trees and vines. Paperbarks can grow on poorer soil than rainforest species. And so, paperbarks are good for planting in those low-lying areas where the poor growth of weeds indicates an infertile soil. You wouldn’t put red cedar in places like that. It needs a really fertile soil, is best above flood level and needs to be protected from hard frosts. Also, it grows best where it does not have to compete with other red cedars. This means that it is an ideal species for scattered planting within thick stands of privet that keep the frost off. As the seedlings grow, the privet can be killed in ever-widening circles around each tree. As the privets die, their roots and shoots are converted into nutrients. In this way, the growing cedar tree gets the fertiliser that it needs to grow way above the dying canopy of privet.
Diary 20 Sep Ken Brookes (WSC) visited to discuss road maintenance. 2 Oct Entrance slip rail lock faulty. Nikki Bennetts and Penny Pinkess (WSC) brought 1500 nets and 1000 stakes for plant protection. 7 Nov Penny came again, this time with 20 litres herbicide and more stakes.
Report for 11 September 2013 Meeting
Weed transformed to native habitat When we first made our shelter and table for morning tea,it was shaded by a large camphor Melicope micrococca) and lilly pilly (Syzigium smithii) progressively grew into its canopy. The photo shows what it looks like now. The base of the camphor laurel has become a home to both native species and heritage items. At bottom left is a small birdsnest fern (Asplenium australasicum) in a hollow log, with a rasp fern (Doodia aspera) above it. Above the ring bark the bracket fungus (Ganoderma applanatum) has taken hold. Not shown is the brown antechinus (Antechinus stuartii) that amused us during morning tea by seeking out insects in the bark. The fence post that is embedded in the trunk looks as if it might have been split way back, when this was the border of a field that grew beans during the 1940s. The other piece of wood is a part of a bluegum that was cleaved by a lightning strike in 2010.
Border track Weeds along our border with the freeway have now been cleared so that it’s possible to walk along the boundary fence. Beyond the fence there are valuable areas of wetland that we know are home to at least 10 frog species. It is an important corridor for other animals and plants, as well as being home to vulnerable species such as the Wyong paperbark (Melaleuca biconvexa). The whole system helps to purify the water as it drains from the M1 freeway to Ourimbah Creek. However, it is being invaded by weeds. It would seem to be an area that would respond to joint management as a roadside corridor by the two public authorities, Wyong Council and Roads & Maritime Services (see Diary below).
Diary 18 July Annual Financial Report sent to Dept Fair Trading. 30 July 12 TAFE students visited for 3 h with Robyn Urquhart. 1 Aug 2 m-long strangler fig established on wattle opposite Bore 9. 8 Aug Uni students Holly and Kate for 2 h. 30 Aug Regional Natl Resource Coordinator Eva Twarkowsky contacted re roadside corridor maintenance. 2 Sep Nikki Bennetts contacted re roadside corridor.
Report for 11 July 2013 Meeting
Progress of this years's grant work Our contractors recently sent in a team to deal with privet near Bore 9. This year they are leaving as much privet as possible standing and killing it by stem injection with Roundup. This makes for slower work than cutting at ground level, but has the advantage that there isn’t so much debris to impede our follow-up weeding. They are still cutting and painting the thinner privet. We volunteers then deal with the mat of privet seedlings and a multitude of other weeds.
Regeneration after privet removal In the areas cleared of privet last year native seedlings have appeared, including red ash, lilly pilly, euodia and palms. There seems to be an increase in swamp wallabies too. Beautiful creatures they are, but they do like to browse on these tender new seedlings. Wyong Council has come to our aid with stakes and mesh guards to protect the young plants, so they should survive through the winter.
Iron bacteria The photo shows the bright orange deposit along of the waterways through our site. This is not pollution, but rather adeposit of iron oxides – it’s similar to rust. As the ground water feeds into the streams it has iron (together with a bit of manganese) dissolved in it. Specialised bacteria get their energy from oxidising the iron, which then becomes
insoluble, as well as more brightly coloured. This deposit is harmless to drink. However, it would not be welcomed by the people of Gosford and Wyong if it came out of their water taps. For this reason, water engineers add alum salts up at the reservoir to precipitate the iron. As long as they get it nicely balanced, the resulting water should be free of iron and aluminium.
Diary 17 April Steve Lewer (Dept Environment) came to repeat vegetation transects. 19 and 22 April Carolyn Donnelly (Roads & Maritime Services) contacted re possibility of weed control on the freeway side of our site. 2 May Penny Pinkus (Wyong Council) brought stakes, folding saws and bowsaw blades. 7 May students Brooke Gallagher, Holly Woodward, Kate Cato-Symonds, Kate Higgon joined us for volunteer work. Final report of 3-year grant 2010-13 sent to Environmental Trust. Penny Pinkus delivered 3 trowels, 3 folding saws, 3 secateurs, 3 tool belts and 4 kneelers from Wyong Council. 30 May Robyn Urqhhart with 13 students visited for plant identification and spotlighting. 6 June visited Tuggerah Lakes work on north bank of creek. 18 June Damien Moey (Bangalow Bushland Management) visited to plan this year’s grant-funded work. 27 June Student Andrew Sargent joined us for work between semesters. Penny Pinkus delivered nets and stakes from Wyong Council.
More new species The recent Frog Workshop (see diary) turned up three new species, the rocket frog Litoria freycineti, the golden crowned snake Cacophis squamulosis and the emperor gum moth Opodiphthera eucalypti. Then Ray found the dead animal in the
Diary 19 Feb Council sprayer came to spray weeds on road to Council bores. He will return in a few weeks to review progress. Robyn Urquart came with TAFE students. 23 & 24 Feb double flood with site under water. 25 Feb cleaning up after flooding. 5 Mar Carla Whelan (Wyong Council Estuary Management) arranging filmed interview. 7 Mar Kate Cato-Symonds visited to do project on our Landcare group. 11 Mar CMA Creek Meander group visit our site. 12 Mar Phone to Chris Kennedy (Env Trust) – OK to pass over $1,400 of 6 yr grant to next year. 12 Mar New species antechinus found.13 Mar Regent Bower bird bathing at lean-to water tub. Jenny & Joe Ekman (Horticultural Research Newsletter) visit in regard to article on our site. 18 Mar Samantha Willis visit to discuss frog survey. Central Coast Woodturners took block of fallen wattle. 21 Mar Rebecca Dugan (Wyong Council) visit to do Risk Assessment. Brought 150 short nets. 23 Mar Frog Workshop on site 4.30 – 9.00 pm. Three new species discovered.