Saturday 10 April: Excursion, Phascogale nest box monitoring, Yandoit

Leaders: Jess Lawton, Jenny Rolland

Connecting Country has set 150 nest boxes to provide habitat for the Brush-tailed Phascogale through the Mount Alexander Shire. The boxes are monitored every two years, and volunteers are being sought to assist with continuing this important collection of data on the species’ occurrence.  For our April excursion, we will join Jess in checking nest boxes at a property in Yandoit.  Jess will explain the monitoring process and discuss how landscape attributes influence Phascogale occurrence.

Meet at the Octopus car park opposite the Castle Motel, Duke Street for departure at 1.30pm sharp. Alternatively for those coming from further west, meet at the Newstead Arts Hub (8A Tivey St, Newstead) at 1.45pm and we will travel together in convoy to the property.

Bring sunhat, block-out, hand sanitiser, water and wear stout walking shoes (there will be some walking over uneven ground). Also bring your own afternoon tea and chairs for the end of the excursion.

Please comply with current Government COVID-safe requirements on the day.

The Field Trip will be cancelled in extreme weather conditions.

April 9 – Jess Lawton, Fabulous Phascogales: survival in a modified landscape

If you live in or around Castlemaine, you may have been lucky enough to encounter the elusive Brush-tailed Phascogale, or Tuan.  This medium-sized marsupial has a large, black, bottlebrush tail and is listed as ‘threatened’ in Victoria.  At the CFNC April monthly meeting, Friday April 9 at 7.30pm, we’ll hear from Connecting Country’s Jess Lawton on the biology and ecology of the Brush-tailed Phascogale, her research on the occurrence of this species in a modified environment, and how you can help this threatened species to persist. The meeting will be held by Zoom (details on the back page of the Castlemaine Naturalist, April issue).

Sat Mar 13: Excursion – Tullaroop Reservoir, led by Peter and Rosemary Turner

Our February excursion to Tullaroop Reservoir had to be postponed due to the sudden COVID lockdown, so we will try again on Saturday March 13. Meet at the car park opposite the Castle Motel, Duke Street at 1.30pm sharp or at the Tullaroop Reservoir picnic ground at the dam wall at 2pm.

Watch out for raptors as you drive across the Moolort Plains to the reservoir!

After gathering at the picnic ground, we will take a short drive to where we will park and then walk along the shore of the lake and in nearby bushland. Afterwards we will drive back to the picnic ground for afternoon tea. There is a toilet block at the picnic ground.

Bring binoculars, sunhat, block-out, hand sanitiser, water and snacks and wear stout walking shoes.

Please comply with current Government COVID-safe requirements.

The Field Trip will be cancelled in extreme weather conditions.

There are NO excursions on total fire ban days.

12 Mar: Reiner Richter – Dragonflies

Our meeting on Friday 12 March, 7.30pm will again be online using Zoom (see details on the back page of the Castlemaine Naturalist). Following our AGM, the guest speaker will be Reiner Richter, one of the most prolific contributors to citizen science databases in Australia with many specialties including dragonflies and orchids. Reiner will tell us about the recent field guide he has produced together with Ian Endersby: “Dragonflies and Damselflies of Victoria and Tasmania”.  Reiner will explain what lead him to produce the book and the work required to get better photos of many of the species. He will also discuss the photo processing that was required in order to show the required detail for the publication.

Sat Feb 13: Field Trip – Tullaroop Reservoir, led by Euan Moore and Jenny Rolland

Meet at the car park opposite the Castle Motel, Duke Street at 1.30pm sharp or at the Tullaroop Reservoir picnic ground at the dam wall at 2pm.

Watch out for raptors as you drive across the Moolort Plains to the reservoir!

After gathering at the picnic ground, we will take a short drive to where we will park and then walk along the shore of the lake and in nearby bushland. Afterwards we will drive back to the picnic ground for afternoon tea. There is a toilet block at the picnic ground.

Bring binoculars, sunhat, block-out, hand sanitiser, water and snacks and wear stout walking shoes.

To comply with Government COVID-safe requirements:

  • Register with your name and phone number on the sheet provided at the meeting point
  • Wear a face-mask if you car-pool
  • Maintain social distancing of 1.5 m
  • Carry a face-mask at all times for when you can’t distance safely
  • Do not share food or drink with others
  • Maintain good hand hygiene with soap and water or sanitiser
  • DO NOT attend if you are feeling unwell or have the slightest symptoms of respiratory illness

The Field Trip is likely to be cancelled in extreme weather conditions.

There are NO excursions on total fire ban days.

12 Feb : Peter Turner – 15 days in the WA Outback – Desert tracks, Stunning Wildflowers and Birds

In September 2018 I joined 5 others and our 2 leaders/naturalists/drivers for a 15 day camping tour from Perth, through the goldfields to Laverton, then east along the Annie Beadell “highway” to remote Neale Junction, then south on the Connie Sue highway to Rawlinna on the Trans Australia Railway.  The “desert” was full of flowers, with fascinating changes in the mix of geology, trees and plant species.  Then south across the Nullarbor to Cocklebiddy and the Eyre Bird Observatory, where much of the country was recovering from recent severe fires.  The route back to Perth had to be changed after heavy rain closed the Granite Woodlands Trail to Hyden, so we returned on an arc north of Perth seeing different but equally interesting country.  Join me on an illustrated tour of a slice through stunning WA outback country.

13 Nov – Saving orchids from extinction: the RBGV Orchid Conservation Program – Noushka Reiter

Since 2014 the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Orchid Conservation Program based at the Cranbourne site of RBGV has grown a large ex-situ collection of orchids for conservation, introduction and education. Seeds are germinated symbiotically with their mycorrhizal fungi in the laboratory and grown on in flasks before being potted up in the nursery. This ex-situ living plant conservation nursery now consists of over 20,000 plants from 165 species of orchid. Noushka will talk about the pollination ecology, mycorrhizal associations and introduction of four of the species she has been working on with her team.
A wasp removing the pollen bearing organ from a flower of the Candy Spider

Wed Oct 14: Tanya Loos – Joint CFNC-Birdlife Castlemaine District meeting

Join Tanya Loos, BirdLife Australia, on a walk through Australia’s largest annual bird count – the Aussie Backyard Bird Count. Now in its 7th year, this event is especially catered to the beginner birdwatcher. Tanya will discuss how to get involved, how the count relates to BirdLife Australia’s conservation and advocacy work, and finally some tips on bird identification and FAQ.

A bit more about the count. Held from 19th to 25th October, the Aussie Backyard Bird Count is a great way to connect with the birds in your backyard, no matter where your backyard happens to be. You can count in a suburban backyard, a local park, a patch of forest, down by the beach, or the main street of town. ⁠In fact, you don’t even have to leave home, making it the ultimate COVID-safe activity!⁠

Last year’s count revealed a distinct southward trend of birds such as White-winged Triller and Crimson Chat, due to an irruption of dry country species into Vic.

If you have registered for our previous sessions, you will be sent the link for registering with Zoom. If you have not joined earlier webinars and wish to attend, please email Peter Turner at munrodsl@iinet.net.au 

Fri Oct 9: Dr Greg Kerr : Restoring Wetlands in SW Victoria and SE SA

The wetlands of SW Victoria and SE South Australia have been extensively drained and modified over the last 150 years. Drainage, groundwater extraction, irrigation and cropping have all combined to alter a predominantly wet landscape to one where most wetlands either disappeared or became severely degraded. Farmers and other land holders are now realising they or their predecessors went too far in draining the wetlands and that many of these drained lands are rarely productive.

Enjoying sunset at a restored and evolving Walker Swamp

Dr Greg Kerr, Senior Ecologist, Nature Glenelg Trust, will tell an inspiring story of how resilience, patience and cooperation between the NGT, community groups and the local Catchment Management Authority is successfully restoring over 40 wetlands of the Wannon River Delta, a 13 km2 wetland complex at the base of the Grampians, into healthy productive wetlands with positive consequences for biodiversity.

 

If you have registered for our previous sessions, you will be sent the link for registering with Zoom. If you have not joined earlier webinars and wish to attend, please email Peter Turner at munrodsl@iinet.net.au 

Suspension of Castlemaine FNC Activities (Updated)

Due to Federal and State Governments’ requirements for restricted activities during the Coronavirus pandemic, the CNFC Committee has decided that for the time being, all club face-to-face activities will be suspended – general meetings, excursions and committee meetings. Until further notice, monthly general meetings of the club are being held by zoom and the Committee continues to meet via zoom and email.

However, we can still enjoy nature, and we encourage you to record your observations of interesting plants, birds and other creatures even from your backyard, taking photographs of special sightings.

Consider preparing a short note on interesting observations, and emailing it to the CFNC address (castlemainefnc@hotmail.com) for the Newsletter. Watch the club Newsletter, website and emails for other ways in which we can all participate in nature for enjoyment and protection through the challenging months ahead.