Steve Joblin (Project Coordinator), Kate Auty (Guest Speaker), Ian McKaskill (Upper Goulburn Landcare), Shane Monk (Taungurung), Craig Rubenstein (Strath Creek landholder), David Wakefield (President Strath Creek Landcare), Terry Hubbard (Upper Goulburn Landcare).
The Strath Creek AGM, held recently, was also the final community event and celebration of the Strath Creek Biodiversity Project. Pictured above, the gate sign for all participating landholders is proudly displayed by Craig Rubinstein, flanked by Ian McKaskill (Project Steering Committee Chair) and David Wakefield (President, Strath Creek Landcare).
The event was busy and well attended, Continue reading
Over the course of the project we have been monitoring fauna on each of the sites using bird surveys, motion-sensor camera deployments and nest box inspections, in order to obtain base-line data for future comparison. The surveys regularly turn up the expected common birds – magpies, Galahs, Crimson Rosellas, Superb Fairy-wrens, Brown Thornbills, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails, etc., and the cameras are full of shots of kangaroos and wombats – as well as foxes and deer! It could become all a bit ho-hum if it weren’t for the enjoyment of wandering the hills of the King Parrot catchment looking for birds, and also, just once in a while, the excitement of an unexpected rare species popping up!
In the case of birds, the surprises have come from a pair of Spotted Quail-thrush in ‘Hidden Valley’ (Site 4), and, most recently, a group of Southern Whiteface on the edge of one of the new sites added this year (see more details on Focus on Fauna). With mammals the Long-nosed Bandicoot (again in ‘Hidden Valley’) was unexpected, as was the frequency of occurrence of the threatened Brush-tailed Phascogale, which has so far been recorded on four of the project properties, including two of the new sites. A highlight early on in the project was of course the finding of an endangered Striped Legless Lizard on the Granters’ property (Site 5).
The King site, like most in this project, is generally steep so that most revegetation is done by hand. However, the site has a flat to undulating ridge-line, perfect for direct seeding and that’s just what Janet and Justus Hagen got up to a few weekends ago. Here you can see their direct seeding machine being pulled behind their 4WD, scalping the ground where seed is then sown. Direct seeding usually occurs when soil temperatures have warmed enough for the seeds to begin germinating (in theory), though some seeds may not germinate for months or even years – waiting for just the right conditions.
In this case the direct seeding was supplementing the ground layer of native grasses and some herbs and the scattered grey box trees. You can find other site pics here and here and here.
Looking NE along the ridge-line and the nearly finished direct seeding job. New site boundary & fence-line to the left and white tree guards on the steeper slopes to the right.
Later that day, Project Officer Steve Joblin dropped into another of the project sites to check on progress. The Granter site had previously had roof-habitat tiles placed near the location of a Striped Legless Lizard (Delma impar) record (in Nov. 2012). This species is Nationally Threatened and had not been recorded in this district prior to the start of this project. These tiles had been checked on a number of occasions during the year for small skinks etc, but no more legless lizards had been found. However on this day, Steve was lucky! Though the stripes were not as clear as on a previous individuls, it was non-the-less a Delma impar and further proof that the site supports a population of these special animals.
Bougainville’s Skink (Lerista bougainvillii)
Garden Skink (Lampropholis guichenoti), a very common skink across Victoria.
Striped Legless Lizard with indistinct stripes and tell-tale yellow cheeks.
Same individual Striped Legless Lizard (Delma impar).
We have recently followed up sightings of uncommon fauna such as Spotted Quail-thrush and Long-nosed Bandicoot at the ‘Hidden Valley’ site with remote surveillance camera placements. The cameras failed to record quail-thrush, but did show up a bandicoot and a range of other wildlife, including Black Wallaby, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Short-beaked Echidna, Common Wombat, Brushtail Possum and White-winged Chough, as well as the introduced pests Red Fox, feral Cat and Sambar. (Click on any of the photos below for a closer look.)
Eastern Grey Kangaroo with joey
Common Brushtail Possum
Recent bird sightings at ‘Hidden Valley’ include Peregrine Falcon, Common Bronzewing, Flame Robin (they love using the tree guard stakes as perches), Weebill, White-naped Honeyeater and Grey Butcherbird, which takes the running total of species to 48. This total is bound to rise when intensive surveys are undertaken later in the year.
Mountain Brushtail Possum at Watsons’ site
Over the past few months, the Upper Goulburn Landcare Network’s Focus on Fauna team has been installing remote motion-sensing cameras to record wildlife at each of the Biodiversity Project sites . This was an attempt to establish some baseline data for future comparison so as to gauge the effects of the project’s revegetation and habitat protection works. Continue reading