9 Nov 2018 – CFNC talk reminder and venue change

The talk by Deanna Marshall of Trust for Nature about Plains-Wanderers is being moved slightly due to the high school exams taking place in the usual venue.  This presentation to the November 2018 meeting of the CFNC is now to be held in the Chapel room at the back of the main Uniting Church building.  Entry to the Chapel is from near the rear of the building, on the western side (towards the train line).  Start time remains the same, as do all other details (Click here for the original post about this presentation).  Apologies for the late notice!

9 Nov 2018 public talk: Plains for the Wanderer

Deanna Marshall is the guest presenter at the November general meeting of the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club.  Both members are visitors are welcomed and encouraged to come along, and there is no cost for attendance.

Female and male Plains-wanderer. Photo by David Baker-Gabb.

About her talk, Deanna writes ‘Plains-wanderers are nationally critically endangered. They share a physical resemblance to quail, but in evolutionary terms, they are one of a kind – there’s no bird like it in the world. In Victoria, 95% of native grasslands that Plains-wanderers formerly occupied have been lost to cultivation and urban development. The protection and maintenance of the habitat of the Plains-wanderer is vital for the conservation of the species, but will this be enough?’.

Deanna is Trust for Nature’s North West Area Manager. For the past 7 years both her and her team of 5 have overseen the delivery of Trust for Nature programs and projects in the North Central and Mallee CMA regions. Prior to this, Deanna worked in the Biodiversity Group for the state government in the Loddon Mallee Region for 11 years.

The evenings event commences at 7.30pm on Friday 9 November in the Fellowship Room, located in the building behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine (next door to the Art Gallery and Museum).  Following Deanna’s talk and questions, tea and snacks will be available.

Ideal Plains-wanderer habitat. Photo from Trust for Nature


10 August 2018 – CFNC Guest speaker Damien Cook

At the August 2018 CFNC general meeting, the guest speaker will be Damien Cook, who will talk about wetland rehabilitation – and, in particular, the ecology of the Koorangie Marshes and how the restoration project here was implemented (see further details below in the comments section).

As outlined on his company’s website, local resident Damien is Co-director and Senior Ecologist of Rakali Ecological Consulting, a company specialising in ecological consultancy.  Damien’s roles within the company include ecological consulting, project planning, client liaison and delivering training….He is a recognised expert in wetland, riparian and terrestrial ecology, particularly in the factors affecting the establishment and management of aquatic and wetland plants, and also the revegetation of terrestrial ecosystems.
The evening event will be from 7.30pm on Friday 10 August in the Fellowship Room (behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St.  The church is situated next door to the Art Gallery).  There is no cost for entry, and both members and visitors of all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend.  We look forward to seeing you there.

11 May 2018 – CFNC Guest speaker Zoe Thompson – native grasslands

The guest speaker at the May 2018 CFNC general meeting is Zoe Thompson.  Zoe, a biodiversity officer with the Brimbank City Council, will present on “Native Grasslands in Urban Areas” – a topic of relevance to the local area (e.g., the Montgomery St grasslands in Wesley Hill).  This event will be on Friday 11 May from 7.30pm in the Fellowship Room (located in the hall at the rear of the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine – next door to the Art Gallery).  Member and visitors are all welcome, there is no cost for attendance and tea/coffee/nibbles are available afterwards.  We hope to see you there.

Zoe has let us know that her presentation will cover protecting and managing remnant vegetation (particularly grassy ecosystems) from a local government perspective, and also successes and lessons learnt with our management works and with using the system to protect what’s left 

“As I am a jack of all trades in council in relation to biodiversity, providing advice to statutory planning on development proposals, setting up habitat protection and recreation projects, monitoring works and projects for all our conservation assets, working with other departments to reduce their impact and reinforcing the role of community empowerment and therefore advocacy for their local environment, I’d hope to give a view of where local government staff fit into the protection and management of indigenous flora and fauna.”.
Zoe has also provided us with a summary of her training, qualifications and experience, “I studied Parks Recreation & Cultural Heritage management at Charles Sturt University and Natural Resource Management at Bendigo TAFE (BRIT).

I have works for the past 18 years at Brimbank City Council on Metro Melbourne’s western volcanic plains carrying out 4 different roles, starting as Land Management Coordinator, moving into a Parks Community Liaison Officer role and then becoming Parks Conservation Coordinator.  I have spent the last 8 ½ years as Biodiversity Officer.
Prior to working at Brimbank I worked for Macedon Ranges Shire at Hanging Rock as a Park Ranger and also within several MRSC departments as a casual and also spent some time working at the Insectarium in Woodend which was a brilliant experience and way to spend time for someone trying to get into the permanent work force.

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).

Friday 11 March 2016 – CFNC General Meeting

The guest speaker at the March 2016 meeting of the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club (CFNC) is Bernard Slattery.  His presentation will cover the eucalypt species of the Mount Alexander region and surrounding central Victorian areas.

Bernard is a local resident and is actively involved with the Friends of the Box Ironbark Forests (FOBIF).  He is a co-author of the locally produced Mosses of Dry Forests of South-eastern Australia.  His new area of interest is the local eucalypt species, and he will talk about some of the things he has discovered and learnt over the past couple of years.  This talk matches nicely with the current photographic exhibition on trees being held at TOGS café in Castlemaine (CLICK HERE for details), and soon to be at the Newstead Arts Hub.

Details of CFNC meeting:
When – Friday 11 March 2016, from 7.30pm
Where – The Fellowship Room, behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine (next door to the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Museum)
Who – Members and visitors are all welcome.  All ages.  No cost for entry.

Due to the Labour Day long weekend, there will be no official CFNC club excursion during March.  However, there is an opportunity to get involved in a Castlemaine-based Biodiversity Blitz being held on Saturday 12 March.  Details were recently published on the Connecting Country website (CLICK HERE).  Dr Dominique Hes from the University of Melbourne will also be attending the CFNC meeting on Friday to talk a bit more about the event, its objectives and its activities.

11 Sept 2015 – The Last Frontier

The Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica is a formidable plate of ice the size of France, uninhabited and deadly. The sheer cliffs of the Byrd Glacier tower above the sea ice and to early explorers formed the great barrier to their exploration endeavors. Ross Island is a home to polar-adapted wildlife such as the Weddell Seal which spends the entire year in Antarctica. As the summer approaches, the frozen surface of the Ross sea begins to fracture and dissolve. Above the colonies of seal, Adelie Penguin and marauding Killer Whale, the fractured and tortured ice tongue of the Mt. Erebus Glacier sweeps off the slopes of the planet’s most southerly active volcano, towering almost four thousand metres into the polar sky.

The guest speaker at the September CFNC General Meeting is National Geographic’s wildlife photographer and TV presenter Jason Edwards (see his website HERE).  His presentation will focus on the environment and the species that inhabit the Ross Ice Shelf and Ross Island, and the researchers who brave the harsh wilderness to study them.

The evening starts formally at 7.30pm, but you are welcome to arrive from 7pm to join us for a cup of tea and a chat beforehand.  Members and visitors welcome – no entry fee.  As per usual, it will be held in the Fellowship Room, behind the Uniting Church on Lyttleton St, Castlemaine (next door to the Art Gallery and Museum).  On Friday 11th September 2015.

17 May 2014 – CFNC Swift Parrot Survey Excursion

We are fortunate to live in a part of central Victoria which is a hot-spot for the threatened Swift Parrot – although the numbers of birds seen during their migrations varies dramatically from year to year.  Over the past 20 years, Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club members have conducted surveys for this species on the two annual survey weekends (always the 3rd weekend in May, and first weekend in August).  Across south-eastern mainland Australia, these surveys have been coordinated by Birdlife Australia (and its predescessor Birds Australia).  The surveys also focus on the Regent Honeyeater, although this species is now highly unlikely to be found near Castlemaine.  A powerpoint presentation on the surveys and these species is available on the BirdLife website (click here).

The CFNC excursion for the month of May is to search for the Swift Parrot on the morning of Saturday 17 May.  Both members and visitors, as well as experienced and novice bird-watchers, are welcome.  The excursion will depart at 9am from the Octopus building (on Duke St, opposite the Castle Motel), and return at about midday.

A copy of the datasheet is available here (click here).   Across the official survey weekend – and the weekends on either side – BirdLife Australia are interested in the results of all bird-watching surveys – irrespective of whether Siwft Parrots are seen or not.  Even unsuccessful surveys are of interest to the scientists studying this species.  The datasheet can also be used to document observations of the Swift Parrot made at other times of the year.

There was a recent article published about the impact of Sugar Gliders in killing Swift Parrots and their offspring at their nesting sites in Tasmania (click here).

The Excitement is Building

Great to see the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club on the front page of the Midland Express today, and supporting such a great initiative at the Castlemaine Botanic Gardens.  Click here to see the article.

Local artist and historian Eliza Tree has been confirmed as the speaker for the August meeting (Fri 9 August).  She has a passion for Major Mitchell’s expeditions across south-eastern Australia, what they found and their implications for both the indigenous community and the environment.   Her talk will analyse some of the changes that occurred in the 15 or so years between Mitchell’s expeditions through central Victoria and the subsequent goldrush that began in the early 1850s.

The excursion the next day will be to 2-3 of some of the smaller and lesser known public reserves in the local area.  Chris Morris has been organising these for a couple of years, and they are an enjoyable way for field naturalists of all abilities – particularly novices – to get involved and make a contribution to the understanding of these areas.

Geology talk and excursion update

Tonight (12 July), club members and visitors heard a fascinating talk from Professor Julian Hollis about the geological composition of the earth’s core using evidence from the local area and elsewhere across south-eastern Australia.

Professor Hollis is also leading the field excursion tomorrow (July 13) to the Lushington Hill Bushland Reserve, near Diamond Gully.  For those interested in attending, you can either meet at the Octopus carpark (on Duke St, opposite the Castle Motel) at 1.20pm, or at the Lushington Hill Reserve carpark at 1.30pm.