Photopoint Project – commenced in the late 1990s with the goal of monitoring the changing condition of vegetation at multiple locations in the Mt Alexander Shire through repeat point-location photos. Over the following years, more than 1600 photos from over 970 locations were collected, covering a wide variety of habitats and vegetation types. Documentation for each photo included date, GPS coordinates, direction, site type and relevant recent activity (eg burns, floods, firewood collection, plantings). Club members Ern and Leslie Perkins were instrumental in setting up this project and most of the photos were taken by Ern.
The photos provide a valuable historical record as well as the basis for important long-term documentation of changes following burns (see example below), weed control and revegetation. The intention was that photos would be repeated about every 10 years. In 2013 the collection was digitised and a CD was prepared with the assistance of Connecting Country, providing an excellent searchable database.
Club members are now repeating photos and exploring options for their digital storage so that they are accessible for members, land managers and the general public to inform land management and historical research.
Roadside Cleanup – Four times a year the club does a Roadside Cleanup along a section of the Pyrenees Hwy to the west of Castlemaine (approximately from the top of McKenzie’s Hill, past the Castlemaine Golf Club and the Steiner School, to Woodman’s Road). See the newsletter or the Calendar under the ‘Events’ tab for details of dates and times.
Challenge Bird Count – For more than 20 years, the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club has participated in this annual event held on the first weekend in December. It is organised by BirdLife Australia and involves teams from across Australia recording as many birds as possible across a 25km radius area in their local patch within a day. The various groups that make up the Castlemaine team typically detect a combined total of more than 1000 birds comprising 90-110 different species. It is a light-hearted competition with no prizes, other than the challenge of lots of birds within your home area. People of all ages and birdwatching abilities can participate. For more information, or to get involved, contact the coordinator of the CFNC’s team, Chris Timewell ( email@example.com). Results are published in the Castlemaine Naturalist.
Castlemaine Botanical Gardens weed removal. A population of the threatened Eltham Copper Butterfly was discovered in 1989 in what is now the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Nature Reserve, an area of remnant native vegetation in the north-west corner of the CBG. Broom and other weeds were placing this population at risk, reducing the quality of the vegetation, especially the Sweet Bursaria, Bursaria spinosa, at risk. Club members were involved in regular weed removal field days over a number of years, removing weeds and planting Sweet Bursaria. The Eltham Copper Butterfly survives in the area in small numbers.
Currently, members are involved in a long term annual program led by member Margaret Panter to remove invasive Needle Grass weeds from the lower section of the CBG Nature Reserve, west of Barkers Creek. This Club project is funded by Mt Alexander Council to support the cost of an expert contractor to remove these weeds from Council controlled land and roadsides. Information about the Needle Grass removal project, and ways to identify these weeds, is available in the Castlemaine Naturalist for December 2017, February, May and December 2019.
Threatened flora monitoring and surveys – Club members collect flora records from quadrats from native vegetation remnants across the local area.
Please contact the club if you would like to be involved in one or more of these projects – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club has a long and proud history of involvement in natural history and conservation-based projects.
Swift Parrot Project – CFNC member Debbie Worland, with the support of the club and many other groups, produced a DVD documentary on the Swift Parrots in the local area. The DVD is still available (contact Debbie at email@example.com)
Birds Australia Bird Atlas Project
Roadside vegetation / weed mapping