Who could disagree that Australian ecosystems are very special? My photo of this White Backed Fairy-wren in central NSW last month tells it all, he seems to scream ‘I Exist’.
Not far from where I live in Melbourne, Victoria, are the last few Orange Bellied Parrots, and I mean few. The only four birds left to make the crossing from Tasmania to mainland Australia for winter (these parrots are one of three of earth’s migratory parrots another being the Australian Swift parrot which is also endangered).
Most people have no idea these creatures exist or would care, a freeway passes the parrot’s winter foraging place and thousands of cars roar past the place each day. How many of those drivers know what they are passing?
Leading Australian scientists tell us our special ecosystems are in a state of collapse https://theconversation.com/great-barrier-reef-bleaching-is-just-one-symptom-of-ecosystem-collapse-across-australia-58579
Ecology CAN make a change, without it there would likely be no Rhinos, Elephants or National Parks. People can also create change, but this requires political will. The Great Australian Silence (the National ability to turn our backs on the big questions) has to be overcome.
“Country”and that includes our seas, need very special treatment. It’s what we all rely on to provide the water, oxygen, food and recycling of waste and chemicals used daily without a thought. It’s also the thing which sequestrates the Co2 we are pumping into the air and which is causing Climate Change.
Lets put our money where it’s really needed, not into more war machines.“Don’t tell me what you value; show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” – US Vice President Joe Biden
His wealth of experience and understanding of the role of the arts in communities and his establishment of THE G.R.A.I.N. STORE (Growing Rural Art In Victoria) http://www.thegrainstore.org/ added hugely to the value of my residency.
Ancient red-gums of Barmah
Ancient Barmah remnant Red-gums inspired this installation piece:
together with Superb Parrots by pre-schoolers:
some of which I saw on the Broken Creek and known as “Green Leeks”in the Nathalia district. Unfortunately green leeks are becoming a difficult to find species due to loss of food/nesting trees. I noticed large paddock trees ‘still being burnt in the area south of Picola, prime box eucalypt food habitat for Polytelis swainsonii. The recent trend by croppers to implement overhead spray irrigation means large paddock trees are being destroyed by the thousands (bush poet, indigenous plant seeding expert,Tammy Muir https://twitter.com/logiemuir)
Sculptured Green Leeks (by pre-schoolers) at their cardboard “hollow”.
A combined artist/community exhibition will take place at THE G.R.A.I.N STORE in June 2016.
I am currently working on a community-based arts project which aims to increase public awareness and ecological response to species/habitat declines in the Goulburn/Broken/ Barmah system.
The Grainstore Community Arts Centre is sponsering my 2 week residency which so far has been amazing.
Philippa Schapper (left) has been wonderful, and Heather my partner has offered to help with some 2D works.
So far I have the beginnings of a Squirrel Glider, a species special to this part of Victoria and…
…. a River Red Gum, the majestic and iconic Australian water-course tree. Unfortunately most of the old trees have been destroyed in years past as part of forestry practice and many ancient ringbarked stumps are in evidence.
My residency will I hope shed some light on the importance of hollows and the need to retain what ancient trees remain.
Katrina who is visiting from Greece (centre) was amazed by the light and primeaval look of the forest at Hutt Lake on dusk.
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?
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 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.
Fossilized carbon has been used to make this change and has heated our planet.
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 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.
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.
My previous post mentioned Yorta Yorta lands. For international readers this country is on the Murray river, Australia’s largest waterway. Since white settlement the river has been transformed into a channel for irrigators. Currently almost no river water reaches the sea. Prior to settlement the Murray regularly flooded into an enormous braided river system at snow melt, but would sometimes cease to flow entirely in summer as can be seen here in 1915 drought.
Species which evolved over millenia to live with this cycle now has to cope with a regulated flow regime. Some species like white necked heron have adapted, but others like white breasted sea eagle are now listed as threatened.
The gorgeous Azure kingfisher alcedo azurea is another Near Threatened species (depi advisory list), I felt very fortunate to see these and you’ll hear my amazment looking through the viewfinder. (apology for sound)
It has taken whitefellas several generations to realize our largest rivers are dying. Water is at last being allocated for ‘environmental flows’. This is Hattah WITH its water allocation earlier this year.
The photo below gives an idea of size, I’m no expert but I’d guess these trees are pushing 1000yrs old, which makes our little lives seem so insignificant. We have been cutting these ancient woodlands up to make railway sleepers and for firewood. Victorian side of the river has just ceased this practise in Barmah National Park, however the northern NSW side is still being logged (forestry).
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?
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.