The past month has been a busy one in the Private Land Conservation program, with three community education events being held, even though it has rained on every occasion! Frog Stories was held in Wootton on a damp Saturday afternoon, with Dr Alexandra Knight from Charles Sturt University. Alex gave us an overview of the significance of Australian Frogs, what our local species are, how and why they are so vulnerable, how to identify them and what we can do to support local frog populations. We spent time listening to frog calls on the fabulous Frog ID App and learnt how we can all contribute to the Frog Database by using the App. We walked to a local property with an excellent frog habitat dam with native water plants, native (& exotic) grasses, shrubs and trees in the surrounding area. We listened to the Common Eastern Froglet Crinia signifera, which is active year long and common in a range of habitats. With no stock on the property, the water quality was excellent, and Alex expected greater frog diversity would be detected in the Spring and Summer months. Thanks to Carole for both hosting our walk and talk on her beautiful property, and for providing delicious cupcakes for afternoon tea!
Our Trad Biocontrol Workshop at Stroud was a full and informative day with a range of interesting presentations on weeds and biocontrols. Ben Gooden (CSIRO) gave an excellent overview of the way in which the Leaf Smut affects the ground smothering weed, Tradescantia fluminensis, its efficacy and behaviour in differing weather and climatic conditions. The Leaf Smut is available and free to any landholder, but does best in damp, shaded conditions that have good native plant diversity (resilience), such as wooded riparian zones. For more information about the Trad Leaf Smut program and how to get involved, go to this link. We were pleased to hear from Collette Livermore, from the Ourimbah – Palm Gove Landcare Group, who has been actively spreading the Trad Leaf Smut on their site at Palm Grove for at least two years, with outstanding success. The weedy Trad has been reduced by up to 80% cover at the project site, and members have seen the re-establishment of a diverse native ground layer across the site. Palm Grove website
Dr Andrew McConnaghie (DPI) gave an overview on current research underway at the Orange facility into new biocontrol agents for several weeds, including Bryophyllum, and Small-leaved Privet, the latter of which received an applause from the audience. The Biocontrol Manual, is available here
We also heard from Joël Dunn (KGL) about Soil Striker and its impacts on Giant Parramatta Grass, Matt Kennedy (LLS) about regional weed priorities and biosecurity obligations around weeds and pests. Terry Inkson (MCC) also gave us some excellent information about the new and emerging weeds in our area – Chinese Violet, Tropical Soda Apple, Plume Poppy and Amazonian Frogbit.
The presentations will be available on the mc2t website soon.
Our final field day for the month was held in substandard conditions, when 8 die-hard landholders joined myself, Mathew Bell (MCC), Jessica Leck (MC2T) and Joel Dunn (KGL) on a brisk and wet spotlighting walk through a council reserve in Smiths Lake. Unfortunately, the weather was horrid and the animals were in hiding, so we observed and heard very little activity. It was very interesting to walk through the forest at night, learn about glider incisions on trees, how to conduct a spotlight survey correctly and ethically, what to look for when spotlighting, the habitat requirements for our most vulnerable creatures of the night, and the importance of logging all observations on Bionet Atlas. We did spot a Tawny Frogmouth, a microbat, and a brief glimpse of some animal eyes before the wind erupted and we all ran for cover!
To top off a very busy month, we hit 100 members when Joel Dunn (KGL), Drew Morris (MCC) and I visited the Listening Hill community at Stroud. Six new properties were signed up, along with their 100acre community title conservation lands area. We also spent some time demonstrating weed control methods on the community land, mainly on woody weeds such as Lantana and Privet. The residents were keen to learn and aim to form regular working bees to regenerate the shared community title lands. Garden escapes and other environmental weeds are the main threats present at the properties. Camera trap images have recorded Sugar Gliders and Phascogales, and Koalas are often sighted on the properties. Thanks to Bente and Mons for organising the day and helping us to reach this significant milestone, and well done team!
These events have been part of our Conservation on Private Lands Education Program, which is part of Partnering in Private Land Conservation. A joint initiative delivered by Landcare NSW and the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust and supported by Mid Coast Council in our area.