Excursion – Saturday 9th September

The September excursion will be to the Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve.  Meet by the “Octopus” (the U3A Office) opposite the Castle Motel on Duke St, Castlemaine, to arrange car-pooling for departure at 1.30 pm.  Bring afternoon tea, binoculars and camera, and suitable footwear and raincoat – we’ve had rain recently, but the forecast for Saturday looks promising.  Peter Turner will lead the excursion.  A detailed map of the reserve is available from the Information Centre in Mostyn St.



8 Sept 2017 – Guest presenter on Banksia marginata

The guest speaker at the September CFNC meeting is Simon Heyes.  Simon  is currently studying for his Masters in Research at La Trobe on Banksia recruitment. He is looking at why banksias aren’t regenerating, and is also researching the ecology patterns of recruitment for Banksia marginata on the plains.

The presentation is from 7.30pm on Friday 8 September in the normal location – the Fellowship Room behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St (next door to the Castlemaine Art Gallery).  Visitors are welcome.  Members are encouraged to bring along friends and family.

To whet your appetite for Simon’s presentation, the following link is to an article written by Ian Lunt in 2014 about Banksia marginata (CLICK HERE).  The comments and discussion at the end of the article are also quite interesting.

Information about the  excursion on Saturday 9th September are being finalised and will be announced soon.

Wednesday Wildflower Walks will commence on September 13th for four or five consecutive weeks, starting promptly at 4 p.m. from opposite the Castle Motel. An appointed leader will take us to an area in the surrounds of Castlemaine exhibiting a variety of flowering native plants at the time. We will spend about an hour at the location. Bring field guides, magnifying glass, camera etc., and appropriate footwear.  The leaders of the first two walks are Richard Piesse (13th Sept) and Geraldine Harris (20th Sept).

The Wild Plants of the Castlemaine District – an online guide is launched

Today, the 1st of August 2017, the online edition of the Wild Plants of the Castlemaine District is formally launched.  This comprehensive guide contains details on the identification, locations, preferred habitats and history of hundreds of native and introduced plant species found in Castlemaine and surrounding areas.  It can be viewed at the following stand-alone website location – https://www.castlemaineflora.org.au.

In November 2016, local natural historian – Ern Perkins – sadly passed away.  Ern’s passion for the natural environment was matched by his passion for sharing his knowledge with others.  A few months before his passing, he first launched this compendium of local plant species as a freely available resource via USB memory sticks.  Ern had developed this guide based on information that he and others had collected and compiled over more than 40 years.  With the support of Ern’s family since his passing, the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club has worked with a local IT graphics firm to make this guide available as an online resource, allowing it to reach a much wider audience.  Financial support has also been received from the Friends of the Box Ironbark Forests (FOBIF) and Connecting Country.  Each of these organisations will have a link to this flora guide from their websites.  A permanent link to it has already been established from the CFNC website (https://castlemainefnc.wordpress.com/local-flora/).

It is intended to be a dynamic website, with updates made over time in response to taxonomic changes, new photographs and new findings.  Field naturalists from Castlemaine, central Victoria and beyond will appreciate this valuable and easy-to-use resource.

11 August 2017 – Orchids in the Bush

The guest speaker at the August meeting of the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club is Emily Noble, a selfconfessed ‘orchid nut’, who will tell us about some of our terrestrial orchids, accompanied by her beautiful photographs of them.

Emily is a professional horticulturalist, the business manager of the Ballarat Environment Network, and secretary of the Ballarat Field Naturalists Club. She and her husband are building a stone home for themselves on a 16 hectare bush block south west of Ballarat. She described the process of caring for the orchids there in her firstprize winning essay: Orchid Conservation at Home. This won the inaugural essay competition of the Australian Orchid Foundation in 2012. She has now, by 2017, identified fortynine different species of terrestrial orchid on their block.

The essay can be perused on the Australian Orchid Foundation website, under Essay Prize or go directly to the following link (CLICK HERE).

The evening commences at 7.30pm on Friday 11 August 2017 in the Fellowship Room, which located behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St in Castlemaine (next door to the building that once housed the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Museum).   Members and visitors welcome.  No entry fee.

For those inspired by Emily’s talk, there will be an excursion the next day led by club members Richard Piesse and George Broadway into the local forests and woodlands to view some of our orchid species in the flesh.  The excursion departs on the Saturday from the Octopus building car-park at 1.30pm sharp (opposite the Castle Motel).  BYO afternoon tea.  Car-pooling available.

14 July 2017 – Talk on ‘Birds of West Papua’

Guest speaker at the July 2017 meeting of the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club (CFNC) is Nigel Harland.  A resident of Sutton Grange and immediate past president of the CFNC, Nigel is perhaps best well-known locally for his annual wildlife-watching trips to remote corners of the world.  He has recently visited West Papua and will be speaking about (and displaying photos of) the exotic birds and other sights from this great adventure.  Those of you that have attended previous presentations by Nigel will recall his talent as both a photographer and raconteur, and also conveying a depth of knowledge and interesting facts about the locations that he visits.

The presentation is to be on the evening of Friday 14 July 2017, in the Fellowship Room behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St in Castlemaine.  The Uniting Church is midway between Barker St and Kennedy St, and next door to the Castlemaine Art Gallery.  The evening commences at 7.30pm.  Entry is free, and both members and visitors are encouraged to come along.

The PhotoPoints Project

Ern Perkins initiated the recording of landscape and vegetation changes about 1990, culminating in the production by Connecting Country and CFNC in 2013 of a CD with over 1600 photographs taken at approximately 10 year intervals at sites around the Mt Alexander region.
At the June meeting of CFNC  George Broadway will review the history of the project, show us examples from the database, and describe the challenges involved in  recording photographs at  some of the many sites.
June General Meeting: 7.30pm on Friday 9th June.  Uniting Church Hall, Lyttleton St.
George will lead the excursion on Saturday 10th June.
We will visit several of the PhotoPoint project sites, including Frogmore Swap, Hamilton Crossing and Bell’s Swamp.  How have these areas changed over the decades?  We’ll see how difficult it can be to line up the original views, despite GPS and compass data and the original photos.
Excursion:  1.30 pm Saturday 10th June
– Meet at the U3A Octopus building on Duke St (Opposite the Castle Motel) – ready for departure at 1.30pm sharp.  Bring your afternoon tea and binoculars.  Car-pooling available.

Fungi of Forests and Farms – Alison Pouliot Photography

Alison Pouliot, an international Fungi and photographic expert, will be giving a presentation at the Ravenswood Valley Landcare Group’s next meeting on Wednesday 31st May at 7.30 pm at the North Harcourt Hall (corner of Chaplins Rd and McIvor Rd).
Alison will talk on the role of Fungi supporting Eucalypts, including paddock and forest trees.  Every Eucalypt, and most other trees, form beneficial relationships with fungi.  Fungi also make farm soils more resistant to drought and disease.  Alison will also bring a display of local fungi.

Visitors are welcome – please email the Secretary, Tricia Balmer, on  triciabalmer@me.com if you are attending.  Supper will be served after the meeting.