BUSH COLLECTIVE - State of our Environment 2015

Lesley Stevens

OVERVIEW


Tawny Frogmouths
 

In 2015 the four bushcare groups working on and around the lower Western Shores of Pittwater decided to form a Bush Collective. The aim was to work together to share information, provide support and combine resources to ensure the best possible environmental future for our area. This ‘State of the Environment ‘ report for 2015 is a result of that commitment.

2015 was the year our environmental ambitions and work went beyond bush regeneration. Local residents purchased nesting boxes to provide safe homes for small marsupials, they monitored their boxes for tell-tale signs of activity, they trained to operate wildlife cameras to capture footage, they undertook research into the minutiae of Powerful Owl life and they became Citizen Scientists, recording their findings online as part of the Atlas of Living Australia. It was a year of stepping into the unknown, dodging the pitfalls and experiencing a sense of wonder, yet again, at the richness and complexity of the natural world around us.

 
Bursaria spinosa flower

Getting back to the flora - we had another spectacular year of growth due to ideal weather conditions. 1542mms of rain were recorded and our natives made the most of it with glorious flowerings of Ceratopetalum gummiferum (NSW Christmas Bush) Corymbia maculata (Spotted Gum) Kunzea ambigua and Bursaria among others.

Unhappily so too did the weeds. It was another full-on year for that most crucial of tasks undertaken by the Bay’s Bushcarers: strengthening the natural regeneration of the Pittwater Spotted Gum Forest by weeding out invasive exotic species.


BUSHCARE


Morning Bay Bushcare area

MORNING BAY Bounded by Woody Point in the E, the sand flats in the NW, and the base of the ridge in the W. Also a portion of Towlers Bay North including the site of the former cottages.
Under Surveillance  Asparagus aethiopicus (Asparagus fern), Lantana camara, Ageratina adenophora (Crofton Weed), Cissus (Lawyer Vine), Bryophyllum delagoense (Mother of millions), Bamboo, Yellow Cassia and Caulerpa taxifolia  
Worst Weed
 
Asparagus fern closely followed by Bamboo
Noteworthy  The Volunteers’ efforts during the YHA Weeding Weekends where additional work is performed on the slopes around the hostel. The ongoing success of the battle against Asparagus fern and mother of millions in this area is now a visible inspiration to all  
Highlight Eucalyptus seedlings on Woody Point, too early to identify. The saving of juvenile spotted gums from death by Cissus strangulation.


Asparagus weed 


Juvenile Spotted Gums and Cissus vine


Coopers Point Bushcare area

COOPERS POINT
 
(Coopers Pt Intertidal Coastal Reserve, Ku-ring-gai Beach Estate, Council Reserve -Hall's Wharf to No 10 Woody Pt)
Under Surveillance  Asparagus aethiopicus (Asparagus fern), Nephrolepis cordifolia (Fishbone fern), Delairea odorata (Cape Ivy) 
Worst Weed
 
Nephrolepis cordifolia (Fishbone fern)
Noteworthy  Persistent and continual weeding has largely achieved our aims. The bush has returned to its indigenous state with clusters of Sickle Fern, Centella Asiatica, Hydrocotyle (very beneficially for arthritis) Bladey grass (Imperata cellendrica) , Barbed-wire grass (Cymbopogan refractus), Hedgehog grass (Echinopogon ovatus) and Kangaroo Grass (Themeda ghania) covering the area.  
Highlight The recovery and growth of a large cluster of Hooded Orchids ( Pterostylis nutans)

 
Hydrocotle

 

 
Cheilanthes sieberi

 


Coopers Point Bushcarers 

 


Rocky Point Bushcare site

 

ROCKY POINT (5 hectares at Rocky Point Reserve at the tip of Rocky Point)
Under Surveillance  Asparagus aethiopicus (Asparagus fern), Nephrolepis cordifolia (Fishbone fern), Bidens pilosa, Sporobolus fertilis (Parramatta grass)  
Worst Weed
 
Bidens pilosa, because it is such a prolific seeder
Noteworthy  Where once the site was completely covered in Asparagus fern and Fishbone - today it is basically free of Asparagus fern and we are in the last two years of clearing the site of Fishbone Fern. 2015 was also the year Rocky Point successfully applied for a Greater Sydney Local Land Services grant for 2 wildlife cameras to monitor the Pygmy Possum Project’s Nesting Box Project and enlarged their environmental ambitions  
Highlight Following an onsite environmental burn by our local RFS in June 2014, the regeneration in the burn area was dynamic with species such as Acacia falcata, Aciaia longissima, Acacia ulicifolia , Clerodendrum and Correa, not previously growing on the site, popping up again

 

 
Fishbone fern

 


Last weed wall

 

Regeneration after the burn-off

 


Rocky Point Bushcarers

 


Elvina Bay Bushcare site

 

ELVINA BAY   (Elvina Pt and the 2 blocks west of the Pt; the creek beside the Fireshed, Nat. Park land SW Lovett to the Linda Falls)
Under Surveillance  Lantana camara, Ageratina adenophora (Crofton Weed), Asparagus aethiopicus (Asparagus fern) Tecomaria capensis (Cape Honeysuckle) and Bamboo 
Worst Weed
 
Tecomaria capensis (Cape Honeysuckle) as a result of garden dumping
Noteworthy  The near eradication of Yuccas on Elvina Point 
Highlight Working with the RFS burning two areas to assist us with weed eradication and healthy regeneration

 

Tecomaria


Tecomaria

 
Yukka

 

 
Pittwater Youth Hostel Weekend Weeders

 

SPECIAL EVENTS The Pittwater Youth Hostel, under the auspices of Morning Bay Bushcare and National Parks and Wildife Service, once again attracted grant funding from Greater Sydney Local Land Services to continue the bush regeneration of the South-eastern slopes of Morning Bay
Under Surveillance  Asparagus aethiopicus (Asparagus fern), Lantana camara, Ageratina adenophora (Crofton Weed), Bryophyllum delagoense (Mother of millions) 
Worst Weed
 
Asparagus fern
Noteworthy  In August and again in Spring the hostel offered accommodation, evening meal, morning tea and lunches to volunteers in return for 2 mornings weeding. Use of the hostels kayaks, guided walks and evening talks on both local and natural history of the locality were an added bonus for the participants and the weekends was once again fully booked. Experienced bush regenerators from Pittwater Natural Heritage Association and Morning Bay, Rocky Point and Elvina Bay Bushcare supported the volunteer effort (mostly young adults) on the 2 days.
Highlight 2015 was the seventh year the YHA in conjunction with Greater Sydney Local Land Services and funding from the Federal Government’s National Landcare program, has held 2 Weeding Weekends. Each of these events adds around 250 hours to the bush regeneration effort in Morning Bay in that year - a magnificent effort from very generous people with their time and commitment to the area.

 
Lantana 

THREATS & OUTBREAKS

Sadly the largest threat in Elvina Bay is still neighbourhood dumping of unwanted green waste and branches into reserves and National Park.

 


 

On Rocky Point road-side weed outbreaks of Bidens, Tecomaria and Parramatta Grass along Sturdee Lane continues to cause shudders amongst the Bay’s Bushcarers

Coopers Point reports that there is an outbreak of Madeira vine on The Chase, Lovett Bay near ‘Lamaroo’ and a large outbreak of Crofton Weed along the walking track.Mother of Millions has covered the cliff face and steep embankment of the Coopers Point Intertidal Coastal area and needs spraying or professional bush regenerators with ropes and ladders. Ku - ring - gai Beach Estate also has a large infestation and matted area of asparagus fern next to edge of the Bushcare site and running down to the Beach.

 

 
Bamboo

 

In Morning Bay the threats come from all directions. Bamboo is infesting the area around Towlers Bay Cottage and is escaping into the bush.Cissus is smothering juvenile spotted gum and causing trees including mature trees of all species to break and fall. Finally periodic widening of Towlers Bay Track and water wall placement is having a detrimental effect on adjacent trees.

ADDITIONAL FUNDING

COUNCIL

Pittwater Council is very supportive of the work undertaken by the Bays bush regeneration volunteers.

 
Bushcare Supervisor Paul Webb

Council supports Rocky Point and Coopers Point Bushcare with the provision of an on-ground supervisors, tools, first aid kits, and health and safety information and tubestock. The magnificent Paul Webb supervises both groups and is deserving of high praise for his ability to drive these teams of strong individuals in the right direction.

Ongoing bushcare support and advice is provided by Helena Dewis while support for grant applications and reporting, contractor management, and fire hazard reduction is undertaken by Karin Nippard and Matt Hansen.

In addition Pittwater Council has spent $25,000 of grant money to put contractors on the ground at Rocky Point, Coopers Point and Morning Bay to protect the biodiversity of the Spotted Gum Forest. Additional money has come from Council’s Asset Protection program

 
Wildlife Camera Workshop

Council also ran a one-off camera workshop at Rocky Point under the leadership of Andrew Jennings and Sonja Elwood.

In Morning Bay a further 20 hrs of in-kind support has been spent to assist the Asparagus Fern Out Days on Pittwater Youth Hostel land.

NATIONAL PARKS

National Parks & Wildlife Service is also supportive of local bush regeneration efforts. NPWS supports Morning Bay with the provision of tools and contractors to supplement the work of the group. They host weeding days for corporate team building groups which benefits the Bay. In Elvina Bay NPWS organizes events with visiting weeders as well as supplying equipment and topping up the poison

 
Lantana - one of the weeds under eradication

Over time there has been increasing co-operation between Council and NPWS because of the tricky delineation of Council and National Parks land, leading to the sensible use of grant funds to employ contractors in Morning Bay.


Hibbertia - a native ground cover

 

MONITORING PROJECTS

PYGMY POSSUM NESTING BOX PROJECT


Pygmy Possum

It had started with 2 nesting boxes on Rocky Point and in Morning Bay. But by January 2015 the project had grown to 27 nesting boxes located from McCarrs Creek to Coasters Retreat, all purchased by keen local wildlife observers.


Wildlife camera’s successful grant team

 

Our successful Greater Sydney Local land Services grant application to purchase 2 wildlife cameras attracted more project members and by the end of the year we were 37 strong, all wildlife camera competent, with a number of sightings of Pygmy Possum and Feathertail Glider observations posted on the Living Atlas of Australia website.


Wildlife camera

 

POWERFUL OWL MONITORING PROJECT

 
Powerful Owl

This wonderful project was run by Birdlife Australia as part of their Birds in Backyards program. These large raptors are of interest not only because they are a threatened species but also because their nesting and reproductive capabilities are a good sign of the ecological health of an area generally. It was also of interest because Powerful Owls had been heard in Elvina Bay, Lovett Bay and Morning Bay.

The main aims of the study were to:

- Sight the owls with prey in their talons and note the type of prey

- record hearing the owls with their beautiful unique double hoot,

- name butchery and nesting tree species,

- record the number of young produced and

- collect casts for analysis.

Three local residents - Robin Haigh, Angela Cooney and Virginia Leitch - decided to volunteer.

Western Shores residents reported hearing the owls, but capturing other information was more problematic. After going to the mainland to bush-bash in the very steep Cannes Reserve in Avalon and door knock the neighbours of a previous nesting site, it became obvious that this was going to be much more difficult than previously thought!

Relief came after several weeks when the Pittwater Council Officer in charge of the bat control program informed the group that Powerful owls had often been sighted sitting in a kids playground with 2 chicks! Urged on by the group she was able to supply Birdlife Australia with good local information

If anyone hears a Powerful Owl please contact Virginia Leitch leitchvirginia@gmail.com or text her on 0414591074 as she is really keen to record any local sightings

PEOPLE

The following are names of those generous people who volunteered their time to support their local environment in 2015, organizing, weeding, observing, reporting, and chainsawing to clear the tracks

Jock Alison, Lisa Atkins, Michelle Ball, Harriet Birks, Phoebe Birks, Suzanne Bluff, Gary Bluff, Mel Broughton, Paddy Broughton, Hugh Burley, Rory Cole, Angela Cooney, Martin Didsbury, Michael Doherty, Edwina Dusseldorp, Deborah Eastwood, Larry Eastwood, Sarah Gardner, Tejinder Gill, Penny Gleen, Bronwyn Gould, Robin Haigh, Alan Hill, Rouge Hoffmann, Susie Horrobin, Rob Howe, Lyn Hughes, Jude James, Ian James, Jane Jobson, Caroline Kaplan, Debby Kennedy, Lis Kirkby, Antonia Kitching, Fiamma Kitching, Mike Kitching, Susann Landwehr, Sandra Lazarides, Wayne Lazarides, Candy Le Quay, Peter Mace, Terry Mackaness, Chris McVeigh, Richard Mountstephen, Gayle Murphy, Les Peirce, Sarah Polomka, Ian Portek, Justin Punch, Paul Purvis, Virginia Reid, Margaret Richardson, John Rutherford, Roger Springthorpe, Lesley Stevens, Christine Soul, John Sullivan, Hazel Sullivan, Susie Thiessen, Patrizia Totaro, Susan Wallace, Andrew Warden, Nina Warden, Alan Yuille.

 
Rocky Point Irregulars

Please take a bow. And then read on…..

WHAT VOLUNTEERING IS WORTH

BUSHCARERS

Volunteers from the local bushcare groups, Pittwater Natural Heritage Association, Youth Hostel guests and Greater Sydney Local Land Care Service Floating Landcare program gave 1,359 hours to bush regeneration activities in our area in 2015


Rocky Point Bladey grass regeneration

 

NESTING BOX OBSERVERS

Members of the Pygmy Possum Project voluntarily monitor their nesting boxes on a weekly basis increasing this twice a week and sometime daily basis when the box is active and they have the wildlife camera.

A total of 4,342 hours was given by volunteers to support this program

 
Nesting boxes 

 

POWERFUL OWL RESEARCHERS

This project was carried out over a three month period. The volunteer effort here was 72 hours

 
Powerful owls

 

TOTAL VOLUNTEER EFFORT

In total 5,801 hours were contributed by wonderful volunteers to conserve and support our flora and fauna through weeding, research, and monitoring programs.

And while it’s not about the money - at a standard $35 an hour- Volunteers contributed $203,035 in kind to our environment in 2015.

Just so you know….

OBSERVATIONS

On Bandicoots: Richard Mountstephens

 
Long Nose Bandicoot

After having my back lawn frequently dug up I decided to find out exactly who was doing it so I set up a security camera which monitored the lawn overnight and found some interesting results.

Firstly it was indeed a bandicoot digging the holes; he arrived at 11.15 pm and remained in the area for just over an hour and then left leaving three or four round holes. He was subsequently identified by a wildlife officer as a long nosed bandicoot.

What I found interesting was how cautious nocturnal animals can be. In the camera their eyes stand out like headlights and in this case the bandicoot hovered around the edges of the lawn for thirty minutes before venturing on and starting digging.

Encouraged by my success I put out small amount of food the following night ( a mixture of honey, peanut butter and oatmeal) and a wallaby arrived at midnight and ate the lot which took him forty minutes. Just before dawn another wallaby complete with joey arrived and had a look around for a couple of minutes.

The same food mix another night attracted a large black rat who came and went over three hours and also ate the lot. Once again very cautious, standing up and looking around all the time.

As soon as the sun came up the brush turkeys arrived!

 
Brush Turkey

On using the ‘After Dark’ wildlife camera: Ilsa Newby

It was really fun having such an opportunity to see the garden at night!!! We saw a rat, a wolaby foot and Daddy!


Scary foot

 


Owner of the foot

On care for injured wallabies: Bronwyn Gould

Joeys have been known to live for up to 10 days in their dead mother's pouch. That's why it is very important to ensure that you always check any pouches of injured or dead macropods.


Baby Joey

All orphaned Joeys require specialist care which includes specialised diets, set feeding routines, toileting after each feed and adequate "pouching". Pinky Joeys also need to be kept at a constant temperature of around 32° Celcius.

Under no circumstances should orphaned Joeys be fed on cow's milk or supplements containing lactose. Macropods (and all our other marsupials) are lactose intolerant and prolonged feeding using products containing lactose can cause blindness.


Woody Point

On Woody Point: Jane Jobson

A 1994 research project showed that Woody Point was then the only Community 5 ( Open-Forest Corymbia maculata, Eucalyptus paniculata Syncarpia glomulifera, Allocasuarina torulosa) area in the Bays that was uncleared and undisturbed. This 1994 map of the vegetation of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Muogamarra Nature Reserve was compiled and prepared by Doug Benson and Jocelyn Howell National Herbarium of New South Wales Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. Detailed descriptions of the plant communities are given in Cunninghamia Volume 3, Number 4, 1994. [Acknowledgement and thanks to Maureen Anderson resident circa 1966–2013.] ).

BASELINE STUDIES


Green Tree Snake

 

2015 Wildlife Register: Morning Bay: Jane Jobson

BIRDS: Lyrebirds, Kite pair, Black cockatoos, Sulphur crested cockatoos, Magpies, Lorikeets, Eastern rosellas, Kookaburras, Currawongs, Brush turkeys, Crows, Tawny frogmouths, Powerful Owl, Koel, Cuckoo,

SEABIRDS Sea eagle pair, Seagulls, Gannets, White faced herons

MARSUPIALS Brushtail Possum, Pygmy Possum, Feathertail Glider, Antechinus, Wallaby, Bandicoot

MONOTREMES Echidna

REPTILES Monitor lizard, Diamond python, Brown, Red belly black, Death adder, Green tree snake.

INSECTS Summer 2015 was a great year for cicada.

NASTIES Paralysis ticks, Leeches, Jumping ants, Bull ants, Termite nests.

FOREIGNERS Rats,

UNDERWATER Dolphins, Fairy penguin, White jellyfish, Turtle, and the Oysters are thriving

Reptiles & Amphibians: Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park: Dan Loops Toronto Canada: PYH Guest (2005 observation)


Lace monitor 

REPTILES

Snake-Necked Turtle Dam at West Head Road end of Towler's Bay Track

Sydney Basin Turtle Dam at West Head Road end of Towler's Bay Track

Diamond Python West Head Road

Brown Tree Snake West Head Road

Common Death Adder West Head Road

Marsh Snake YHA property

Blackish Blind Snake Shortcut to YHA from Towler's Bay Track

Tiger Snake Bairne Track

Burton's Snake-Lizard West Head Road

Common Scaly-Foot West Head Road

Eastern Water Dragon Dam near YHA, America Bay Track

Cream-Striped Shinning-Skink Bairne Track

Copper Tailed Skink Bairne Track

White's Skink America Bay Track

Cunningham's Skink Shortcut to YHA from Towler's Bay Track

Eastern Water Skink Dam near YHA, Dam at West Head Road end of Towler's Bay Track, America Bay Track

Bar-Sided Forest-Skink Bairne Track

Dark-Flecked Garden Skink YHA Property, Towler's Bay, America Bay,Bairne, & Topham Tracks

Weasel Skink YHA Property

Rosenberg's Monitor Bairne & Towler's Bay Tracks

Lace Monitor YHA Property, America Bay, Bairne, & Towler's Bay Tracks

 
Giant Burrowing frog


AMPHIBIANS

Giant Burrowing Frog West Head Road

Striped Marsh Frog Dam at West Head Road end of Towler's Bay Track,America Bay Track

Pobblebonk America Bay Track

Nesting Box & Other Sightings

NOV (2014) Feathertail Glider: Morning Bay: House: Deborah & Larry Eastwood


JAN - DEC Feathertail Gliders regular rooftop visits: Elvina Bay Nth: Mel and Paddy Broughton


MAY - OCT. Feathertail Gliders: Lovett Bay Sth: Lesley Stevens & Martin Didsbury


 

The Feathertail glider nest

SEPTEMBER Feathertail Glider Nest: Lovett Bay Sth: Hazel Sullivan


OCTOBER Pygmy Possum Nest: Elvina Bay Nth: Mel and Paddy Broughton


NOVEMBER Pygmy Possum Nest: Coasters Retreat: Andrew & Nina Warden


DECEMBER Feathertail Glider: Morning Bay: Bronwyn Gould


DECEMBER Antechinus nest: Lovett Bay Sth: Rouge Hoffmann & Pete Mace


DECEMBER Pygmy Possum x 2: Lovett Bay SW: Sarah Gardener & Lyn Hughes


 

WILDLIFE INCIDENTS

9/ 09/15

Mel and Paddy Broughton discovered a wallaby on the patio on their sea wall. The wallaby was distressed but could not walk as it had a badly broken leg. The Broughton’s called Wires who came immediately, and took the wallaby to a vet. Sadly, given the age and condition of the animal the vet decided the most humane choice was to euthanise.

26/10/15

Terry Mackaness observed a Wallaby being attacked by a dog in the mangroves at the back of Elvina bay.


SUMMARY

2015 was the year our community started to enlarge its vision and to expand into new areas of ‘caring for the bush’. This report details some of those efforts, thanks to a number of local contributors. We think noting what happens each year in our environment has real value as a record of the ways in which we interact with our environment and we would encourage all of you to drop us a line throughout this year with any sightings, incidents or happenings that may interest your neighbours, or simply to tell us about something that made you personally stop and wonder.

As for the on-going monthly bush regeneration events - those who participate continue to enjoy their time working together, learning more about their environment, breathing in the fresh air, keeping abreast of local goings-on (call it gossiping if you must), and laughing. Casual attendees are welcome to join us and share in our passions which change with the seasons and who knows where they will lead us next. Then there are the morning teas…

A huge thanks to all of you who participated in a multiplicity of ways to our environment in 2015.

The Bush Collective

Contact:

bushcollective@prismpix.com


 

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