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
My last 2 weeks have been educational both for me and the arts community in Nathalia, (Yorta Yorta country) Northern Victoria. Meeting and working with US artist Bill Kelly OAM https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kelly_(artist) was a privilege.
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.
My residency in Nathalia ended its first week with a sculpture workshop which invited community members to a hands-on cardboard art-making day.
I thought I had asked too much of my participants initially, but they proved up to the task as the day went on and we had some very promising results by days end.
Internationally known artist Bill Kelly attended and kindly spent much of his day assisting with any creative problems which occurred, I am indebted to him.
Fun was had by all and it proves serious subjects can be approached in a light-hearted and friendly manner.
Getting a 2d material into a 3d shape is often not easy but my workshop participants approached the problems with an enthusiasm, wonderful to see.
Drying in the intense sun at day’s end were little creature beginnings….
and their ‘tree’ hollow homes.
With another week to go who knows what will eventuate? Our collaborative exhibition will take place in June so the heat will soon be on to get some finished work ready for showing.
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.
to be continued…soon.
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.
November is nesting season in the southern Flinders Ranges, so almost all the following observations included adults and juveniles in various stages of fledging.
Rainbow bee-eater Merops (Merops) ornatus , a most beautiful bird
Brown tree-creeper Climacteris (Climacteris) picumnus
Adelaide or western rosella Platycercus adelaidae up there with the most beautiful parrots…. and young below
White-browed Babbler Pomatostomus (Morganornis) superciliosus…. and teaching feeding to young below
Dusky Woodswallow Artamus (Angroyan) cyanopterus…… and young below
Willie wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys…… and nestlings below
From the Flinders I travelled up to Coober Pedy where I was to meet Dr John Read.
North of the gulf and Port Augusta the weather was unusually wet and stormy, and the vegetation reduced to treeless arid. The normally dry salt lakes contained water!
To be continued..
I don’t see myself as a photographer, but as a follow up to my Warru experience I have decided to post photos of species I observed and recorded to the Atlas of Living Australia http://www.ala.org.au/
Mating dragonflies, Hattah
Great crested grebes
Hattah lake November 2015 with its water allocation
Not a Murray cod but very large…..you guess
Regent parrots, currently listed as endangered
maybe just a cabbage moth.
Little corella, thousands of these on the return trip following the wheat harvest
Weebill, not sure which one
Eastern rosella at hollow.
Hattah lakes is a favourite over night stop heading north, its amazing what can be seen in an hour or two. Next camp is in South Australia, back soon with another batch of photos.