Fri 9 Sept 2016 – Researching Ants and their Nests

The guest speaker for the September 2016 CFNC general meeting is Ballarat-based naturalist Peter Muller.  Peter’s presentation will be about the great variety of interesting ants that occur in the local area and beyond.  Peter has provided the following text about himself and the talk:

Early life; lived, trained/educated/qualified in agriculture. Changed direction and pursued a career in natural land management. Worked for various environmental organisation, Parks Victoria and Conservation and land management, and the various forms that it has morphed into over the years. Have gained substantial land management experience in a variety disciplines and responsibilities. Over 30 years have worked in conservation in most areas in Victoria.

Photo by Peter Muller

Photo by Peter Muller

For the last 15 years, until recently retired, I have worked in environmental education with Ballarat/Federation University, a challenging but rewarding profession. Now with a bit of time on my hands, I am devoting some of it researching ants and, hopefully, to answering some question about ants that I have had for many years. I hope, along the way, I can add a little bit to our environmental knowledge, and add value to natural areas particularly, roadside and remnants.

 I live at Enfield south of Ballarat, and have three daughters in various parts of the world.

Peter will also lead the club excursion on the following day.  The following link provides some further information to assist with ant nest identification during the excursion (CLICK HERE).

Peter’s presentation will commence from 7.30pm in the Fellowship Room behind the Castlemaine Uniting Church (on Lyttleton St, next door to the Art Gallery and Museum) on Friday 9 September.  The excursion will depart from the Octopus building car-park on Duke St (opposite the Castle Motel) at 1.30pm sharp on Saturday 10 September.  Members and visitors are welcome to attend both.

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2016 Swift Parrot surveys

Twice per year for the past 20 years or so, on specific days in the months of May and August, Birdlife Australia encourages birdwatchers from across the south-east mainland to search for the elusive Swift Parrots and Regent Honeyeaters.

In August 2016, the CFNC will undertake its monthly excursion through local forests and woodlands to look for these two species.  The excursion will depart from the Octopus building car-park on Duke St, opposite the Castle Motel, at 9am sharp on Saturday 13 August.  If you can’t make it to the CFNC excursion, you can still undertake a survey by yourself at any time in the first two weeks of August.

The following information was provided by Birdlife survey coordinator Caroline Wilson:

“We had a great volunteer turnout on the May survey weekend. We were also extremely grateful to have the assistance of volunteer regional coordinators who helped the surveys run smoothly …. Overall Swift Parrot and Regent Honeyeater numbers were low in May 2016 compared to previous May surveys, but we are hoping to see more birds during the August 2016 surveys, as they travel across the mainland. See attached report for more details on the May 2016 surveys (click here).

We really appreciate the efforts of survey volunteers; even when Swift Parrot and Regent Honeyeater numbers are low the information collected is extremely valuable for determining the presence or absence of birds at a particular time; and data on habitat (i.e. flowering trees) helps to predict the distribution of both species for future surveys. (a copy of the datasheet is provided in PDF [click here] and Word [click here]).

We generally ask volunteers to survey an area for approx 20 minutes (walking slowly along a walking track or through a park and observing birds), but some volunteers like to take their time (up to an hour). For larger areas, some volunteers drive slowly looking for concentrations of flowering trees and/or lorikeets and honeyeaters. These techniques are similar to an ‘area search’, which is explained at: http://birdlife.org.au/projects/atlas-and-birdata/become-an-atlasser   

 We also encourage volunteers to submit data on other woodland bird species recorded to the BirdLife Australia Atlas: www.birdata.com.au  (i.e. this can be done by doing an ‘area search’ whilst looking for Regent Honeyeaters and Swift Parrots)

 Any spot is fine for carrying out the survey (e.g. national parks, conservation reserves, private property), but both species do prefer areas which contain flowering eucalypts for foraging or areas of heavy lerp and insect loads. You might find it useful to use our attached list of suggested survey locations (for NSW, ACT, Victoria and Queensland). You can also contact one of the Woodland Birds for Biodiversity team (details below) and we can put you in touch with a local coordinator to help find suitable survey locations. If you know the area where you’d like to carry out the survey, please let us know beforehand.”

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12 Aug 2016 – Presentation by Alan Reid

The guest speaker for the CFNC’s August 2016 general meeting is renowned naturalist Alan Reid.  The title of his presentation is “A Regional Model for Community Environmental Monitoring – Flinders Island 2003- 2016”.  The meeting is be be held on Friday 12 August, commencing from 7.30pm.  As per usual, the talk will be held in the Fellowship Room, behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine (next door to the Art Gallery).  Guests are welcome.

A summary of Alan’s extensive background is provided below:

  • Alan Reid is a retired teacher, naturalist and environmental writer who began his nature event recording in 1954.
  • He was co-founder of the Colac Field Naturalists Club whilst teaching at Colac  from 1954 to 1959 and from 1959 to 1966  he taught Natural History at the Childrens’ School Camp at Somers.
  • He taught Ecology and Field Studies at Burwood Teachers’ College from 1967 to 1973, and was Education Officer for both  the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Gould League between1970 and 1985 where he produced many conservation  and natural history publications.
  • From 1990 to 2000 he was President of the Gould League and a regular commentator on ABC radio.
  • In 1993 he established the Timelines Australia Project, which is still devoted to producing environmental event calendars and predictive materials for bio-regions around Australia.
  • Alan has been a qualified bird-bander for over 60 years and has been involved in developing and monitoring wildlife corridors on the family farm at Glenburn and on Flinders Island.
  • In 1985 he was awarded the inaugural Victorian Environmental Award; in 1993 the Australian Natural History Medallion, in 1988 a Banksia Foundation Award, and in 2006 an OAM for service to  Environmental Education

Appropriately, the club excursion the next day is to partake in the regular monitoring for Swift Parrots.  Another blog will be prepared for further information about this excursion.

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9 July 2016 – Excursion for Orchid Photography

leaves 1The Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club excursion for July is being led by Geraldine Harris.  It will depart from the Octopus building on Duke St, Castlemaine (opposite the Castle Motel) at 1.30pm sharp on Saturday 9 July.  Members and visitors are welcome (and encouraged) to attend.

This excursion has a special purpose.  An new electronic plant list for Castlemaine is being developed by Ern Perkins, which will have good photos for each species.  Ern would like to add an ‘Orchid Leaves’ section to the guide.  Ern says ‘Some orchid people can recognise any orchid just from the leaves.  It would be a great club project to search for orchid leaves, photograph them, and if necessary go back later to see what they turn into.  It would be a great resource.  And this year looks like being a good year for orchid leaves’.

leaves 4So Geraldine invites people to come along on Saturday to commence the official search for orchid leaves and hopefully there will be an opportunity to revist these plants to photograph the flowers at a later date.  Bring along your camera, and there will be instructions on what you can do with the photos.

And don’t forgot to come along to Damian Kelly’s talk on the Birds of Castlemaine on the night beforehand (click here for more details). leaves 2

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8 July 2016 – Birds in Castlemaine – past and present

Hugh Leach with robin

Hugh Leach with robin

The guest speaker for the July 2016 CFNC general meeting is club-member Damian Kelly.  Damian’s talk is titled ‘Birds in Castlemaine – past and present‘.  Damian has let us know that his presentation will be ‘an exploration of aspects of the history of birding and bird photogaphy in Castlemaine and other areas by tracing the life and photography of Hugh Leach, the man who had the Kalimna bird fountain built to honour him.’

Damian is a life-long bird observer and photographer, who along with Chris Timewell, has been researching Castlemaine birds and changes over time in the area, which has led to interesting historical excursions.
Following the story of Hugh has provided an insight into early records of birds, bird behaviour, the Gould League and other interesting diversions.

Dusky Woodswallow photo by Hugh Leach

Dusky Woodswallow photo by Hugh Leach

The talk is to be held on Friday 8 July from 7.30pm in the Fellowship Room, which is located behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine (next door to the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Museum).  Visitors and other guests are very welcome to attend, and entry is free.

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10 June 2016 – Strategic Fire Planning presentation

The guest speakers for the June meeting of the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club are Paul Bates (District Manager, Murray Goldfields District, DELWP) and Ben Matthews (Regional Fire Planner – Loddon Mallee Region, DELWP).

Paul has provided the following information about the presentation:

“We would like to talk about strategic fire planning and the risk based approach to fuel management. This work is guided by government policy called Safer Together which can be summarised as follows: Safer Together – our new approach to bushfire management, combines stronger community partnerships with the latest science and information to more effectively target our actions to reduce our bushfire risk. We will use a risk reduction target across public and private land to focus our bushfire management activities (like planned burning) in areas we know (through fire modelling) will have the greatest impact.

Our planned burning program under this new risk target does not mean we will burn less, or burn more – it means we will be burning smarter.”

As per usual for the CFNC, this free presentation will occur on the second Friday of the month (10 June), commencing from 7.30pm.  It will be held in the Fellowship room, which is located in the hall behind the Uniting Church (On Lyttleton St, next door to the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Museum).  Visitors welcome.  Tea and coffee afterwards.

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13 May 2016 – An Ice Age Legacy

The guest speaker for the May meeting of the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club is Carol Hall.  Her presentation is titled New England & Beyond – an Ice Age legacy.

Best of the autumn. Photo by Carol Hall.

Best of the autumn. Photo by Carol Hall.

Carol Hall is a graduate in Geography from the University of Sheffield, UK. Since retiring from teaching she has pursued a lifelong interest in photography with travel, particularly to those cooler areas of the world which have been, or still are, glaciated. She has visited Antarctica and the High Arctic, Patagonia, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Canada, and most recently Norway and Iceland for winter photography. She is a member of Ballarat Field Naturalists, Ballarat Camera Club and is president of the Victorian Nature Photography Group.

 The presentation will look at the landscapes of Maine and Massachusetts with particular reference to Cape Cod, and a quick side trip to Niagara Falls.

The meeting starts from 7.30pm on Friday 13 May 2016 in the Vestry at the back of the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St (beside the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Museum).  Members and visitors are welcome.  Entry is free.

Wanderer Butterfly. Photo by Carol Hall.

Wanderer Butterfly. Photo by Carol Hall.

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