Tag Archives: Australia

“Re-wilding” in Melbourne’s West

I live near Kororoit Creek Altona which was possibly the most polluted stream entering Port Phillip Bay. It was until recently refered to as Kororoit “drain” by the City of Hobsons Bay Council. This stream is bordered by heavy industry, waste “tips”, chemical plants and oil refineries. Over the years the original stream escarpment has been obliterated by in-filling, buildings, roads and weeds. Until very recently the valley has been used as an industrial waste depositary.  An ecologist would call it totally fragmented system.

Call it “re-wilding” or just plain crazy, but some years ago a band of ‘locals’ got together to make a change . Our intrepid leader is Geoff Mitchelmore, now in his seventies. He has driven Council and nearby car makers, oil refineries and factories to fund “Friends of Lower Kororoit Creek, FOLKC, see  http://www.folkc.com.au/

Clearing rubbish, weeding (and I mean enormous boxthorn) planting mulching and watering etc has now proceeded to a stage where first plantings are becoming mature. Trees are flowering and birds have arrived. We are creating a corridor for wild species which cuts through the western suburbs’ industrial minefield.

My photos show species now resident in industrial Melbourne due to efforts of people like Geoff.

KMalurus cyaneus Superb fairy wren
Superb Blue Wren         Malurus cyaneus            winter plumage

KGolden-headed Cisticola 1st view

Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis

K(spotted) Pardalotus punctatus

Spotted Pardalote Pardalotus punctatus

KDarter 2
Darter             Anhinga ruf
Knew holland
New Holland Honeyeater Phylidonyris novaehollandiaeKRed-necked Avocet 2

Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae

KRoyal Spoonbill
Royal Spoonbill          Platalea regia
KWhite Fronted Chat Male
White Fronted Chat Male Ephthianura albifrons
Ksilver eye
Silver eye  Zosterops lateralis
Red Kneed Dotterel Charadrius cinctus
Red Kneed Dotterel Charadrius cinctus

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How the “creek”looked….

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Kororoit creek in 2003

 

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Tree planting 2015 National Tree Day

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How early plantings now look

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It’s people who care who make a difference.

 

 

Phascogale in the city

Most city slickers have never heard of, or would  recognize a phascogale. So I made one and installed it in Louis Joel Gallery Melbourne.

louis joelIts at least a meter long, so now there’s no excuses.  And if you’re wondering, that’s a Leadbeater possum  looking on. But you wouldn’t expect city slickers to know about them would you?

Sounds of the Forest Disappearing

Leadbeater’s Possum numbers are estimated to have peaked in the mid-1980s, when approximately 7500 were known in the wild. From then, it’s numbers have declined. Logging has impacted on its habitat and range. Devastatingly, the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 burned around 45% of its remaining habitat. At Lake Mountain a population of 300 possums was reduced to just two family groups (5 individuals).  Late in 2011, 6-7 individuals were being monitored and supplementary fed on the plateau. There is now only an estimated 1500 Leadbeater’s Possums remaining in the wild and it may soon be admitted to the critically endangered list.

Leadbeater's possum.

Leadbeaters possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) adult Emblem of Victoria

The Denis Naphine government handed over all forest east of the Hume Hwy in Victoria to commercial paper  harvesters just days before the election…

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/victoria-state-election-2014/vicforests-given-control-of-commercial-logging-before-state-election-campaign-20141124-11sr5m.html

Videos of what is happening:

http://leadbeaters.org.au/video-and-photo-gallery/logging-media/

David Attenborough and Jane Goodall have called for support for mountain ash forest protection…..

http://http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/11/-sp-david-attenborough-jane-goodall-join-fight-create-national-park-victoria

This is “Sounds of the forest” with Dr David Lindenmayer, ANU if you need further persuasion.

 

Dry County Species

In November 2014 I again travelled to AWC Scotia to help with pitfall surveying,  (a scientific recording of species occurrence/change). Monitoring which species actually still exist in this country is done effectively by Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Here’s a couple of little friends who live in arid western NSW. ningaui holdingThis is a Ningaui, a bit stunned by the morning sun, one of our smallest marsupials.

 

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And this is a velvet gecko.

 

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And here’s where they live, burnt out, no water and searingly hot. Amazingly the plants and animals still thrive.

 

 

Feral Cat Device

For some years I have been discussing ideas for a remote ‘feral cat device’ with Dr John Read, University of Adelaide. Cats cause immeasurable damage to wildlife in this country and others.

Do I have to add the sad part?
Infra-red photo of bilby at burrow, cat emerges from  same burrow the following night.

Infrared night photos kindly supplied by Dr John Read,  http://www.ecologicalhorizons.com/

John was granted funding for development of a prototype and now in trial. Results so far look encouraging. The device relies on cat grooming behavior, so no trap, bait or cage is used. The device uses infrared sensors to isolate non-target species from feral and a new much more humane toxic agent is used. Having ingested the required dose, the animals falls into a drowse before passing away. Currently there is no place on mainland Australia where cat-threatened mammals can be re-introduced into the wild from fenced sanctuaries, hence the need for such a device. Here’s John’s document for the detail;

Dying to be clean

“Nature in the Dark”

I attended this conference in Bendigo 4th November 2014. The video is worth watching.

“How are we, as humans, going to adapt to life on Earth? An odd question when we have been so spectacularly successful.As with many evolutionary misfits before us, it’s the scale of our success that is causing the destruction of our habitat.” Freya Mathews  Adjunct Professor of Environmental Philosophy at La Trobe University, where she co-coordinates Environmental Culture Research.

Barrier Fences

emu2

THIS PHOTO HAS NOT BEEN DOCTORED

Australia 2014 is STILL building barrier fences to keep ‘vermin’ i.e. emus out of agricultural areas, directly across the bird’s migration route, the same bird that’s on our Coat of Arms!  Working with the character if the country is the obvious direction agriculture and governments should take, not simply altering a landscape to suit a market need.

“This example from Western
Australia corresponds with what’
is seen by many as a growing trend
for governments in Australia to
defend their land-use decisions by
ignoring, dismissing or contradicting
existing robust research on ecological
impacts of particular activities
(see, e.g. Fitzsimons 2012; Lindenmayer
2013).”

emus

Heres the full story;

Click to access ecological-connectivity-or-barrier-fence-critical-choices-on-the-agricultural-margins-of-western-australia.pdf