Tag Archives: fragmented

Rewilding Melbourne’s West.

I live in Altona Victoria, home to Melbourne’s petro/chemical refineries, car plants and other major industries. The main waterway here is Kororoit Creek which was once a beautiful babbling brook but had become an industrial drain.

Unfortunately the original creek escarpment has been all but obliterated, but if you know where to look there are still stone chips left by the Wurundjeri  people  200 years ago. Work has been going on for over 20 years,  dragging away rubbish, landscaping, planting and maintaining. This video shows one  unexpected creature which has come to raise a family here. There is no sound because there is still an enormous tip close by and bulldozers are operating seven days a week. The area is surrounded by factories but this little oasis is showing signs of new life.

Folkc shows  what can be accomplished with a little organization and determination by ordinary people.

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No rabbits this Easter!

Small mammals in this country under the 5kg weight range are being decimated by introduced cats and foxes, but how many of us understand this is a part of a global extinction event that is underway?

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Yellow-footed antechinus, recently photographed on Goulburn river bank amongst fallen logs and flood debris. This species is one of the few small marsupials still seen in the wild in Victoria (and can be active in daylight hours). Each year ALL the males die after mating.  

squirrel glider in hand

Squirrel gliders are rarely seen however. This little chap was found in a bad way on a road and brought to the Bohollow Wildlife Centre, Kotupna Vic and was my first chance to see one close up….a truly beautiful creature. These gliders are capable of a 90meter ‘flight’ and are mainly found in non-fragmented dry sclerophyll forest on inland slopes of the great divide. We have all but destroyed such places, hence Petaurus norfolcensis’s increasing rarity.

A human devised technologically based system has replaced the natural system. This pie chart shows how humanity and our domestic animals now dominate the planet’s biomass.

biomass diagram

Fossilized carbon has been used to make this change and has heated our planet.

carnaby's

Carnaby black cockatoo’s dead from heat stress. This bird has decreased 50% in 45 years! I went to school in Albany WA and these birds were a daily part of my world, I walked through a pine forest on my way to school, they love pine trees.

Red-tailed black3 Bourke

Red-tailed black cockatoos in WA (race Naso) are now classed as ‘near threatened’ and only 500-1000 Vic birds (race graptogyne) still exist, and are listed as endangered. 

Red-tailed black5Bourke

It is likely your children and their children will be living in a much reduced biome. So don’t teach your kids about fluffy rabbits and cats, Aussie kids need to know about Aussie warm and fluffies.

Twitching in arid South Australia

I don’t really see myself as a ‘twitcher’ but I admit to spending time observing birds with camera in hand. My recordings are logged to the Atlas of Living Australia at http://www.ala.org.au/    ALA records  all Australian species and is used for research etc.

Birds can be viewed as the canary in the coalmine, they readily indicate how habitat is being altered or alternately, conserved for future generations.

Travelling north in South Australia means moving into arid country,  a landscape type called Mallee. 100 kms north of Port Augusta I made camp but soon had my camera operational. In the following hour I photographed what I think was a mixed species flock. Small bush birds in Australia sometimes travel this way maybe as a protection strategy. black-capped sitella female

Sitella (male) Daphoenositta (Neositta) chrysoptera pileata is now listed as threatened in NSW due to habitat loss. This widespread but not often seen species is a very active tree trunk forager so tree loss means no food.black-capped sittella

The female Daphoenositta (Neositta) chrysoptera pileata with a black cap seems a more striking bird to me, but I don’t see the world in ultraviolet as birds do, their colour receptors are much more advanced than our mammal eyesight.

purple backed wren

Variegated Fairy-wren Malurus (Leggeornis) lamberti was in on the fun, as was his missus with that strange eye make-up…purple backed wren female

Malurus (Leggeornis) lamberti (female)

chestnut tailed thornbill

This LBJ (little brown job) is the Inland Thornbill Acanthiza (Acanthiza) apicalis but  I could be mistaken. This thornbill was feeding on the ground and in low bushes, behaviour which together with light eye-colour,  helps in identification.

unknown bird

If you look hard you will see a crested bellbird running across the sand, this was my first sighting of this inland bird hence the poor quality photo. According to Birdlife Australia ” Sometimes they occur in mixed feeding flocks with Chestnut-rumped Thornbills and Red-capped Robins.” So it seems I was right. This species is listed as now endangered in Victoria where it should inhabit the Big Desert.

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The Mulga Parrot Psephotus (Psephotus) varius also made its presence known.

mulga parrot

I was heading to Coober, so soon I was to enter true arid Australia.

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From here on its a good idea to carry extra water!

A well-smoked Tawny Frogmouth

Wivenhoe dam in Queensland has a shoreline of many hundreds of kilometers, but it’s clear some birds prefered to remain close to the small camping area. The following shots were taken within and close to designated camping sites. The frogmouths were actually roosting within the smoke zone of camp fires! wordp Frogmouth 3

Campers were totally unaware of the two birds above their heads

Wpress Frogmouth 2

WordpBrahminy kite adj

The Brahminy kite was possibly a chick hatched in  a  nest in clear site of human camping visitors.

Wpress Darter

A Darter chose a poly pipe within 30 meters of the camp to dry out and..

Wpress red-backed wren male

a red-backed wren family used nearby reeds and bushes as their chosen home base.

In addition to the above, a flock of many hundreds of black cormorants choose to roost in the trees directly ajacent to the camp-ground. The question is, why do these species choose the camping area given the enormous space available to them at Wivenhoe?

 

Resilience, or the new (not pristine) ecosystem?

This winter I have been busily shooting this video…which is really a question I cannot answer. Why do these birds persist occupying this fragment of polluted creek estuary, only 10km from Melbournes’s CBD? Are they attracted in some way to urban space? Is winter warmer in the city? How do they withstand the relentless noise and noxious odours eminating from the refinery, the continual train passage, car traffic and heavy metals in the water, the dogs? Or is this a last refuge for them, a place where they can find food and shelter of sorts? Is there no place else to  go?

I spent a couple of hours today with my camera in the hope of shooting something extra, but the gagging fumes dove me away and I can still taste acrid refinery fumes.

Why is it some native species move to cities with people, rats and sparrows (possums, bats, parakeets and now even powerful owls)? Are our rural landscapes now so unfriendly to wild species? Is”biodiversity” moving to the world of people, or is this just an abboration?

 

 

“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.