Report from our resident Flying Fox watcher Geoff Francis – About 2350 flying-foxes flew out from the camp at Myles Dunphy Reserve on 19 March 2017. This is the largest number roosting in the camp since April 2011.
The camp has spread out from the wetland onto the neighbouring foot slopes. The northeast end of the expanded camp is only about 35 m from the boundary of the proposed development site on the former bowling club and about 85 m from the location of the proposed five storey seniors’ apartments building. There were greater than usual numbers of flying-foxes using the northeast flight path, and many of the flying-foxes came out on the northeast flight path but swung around onto the main north flight path. Thus I was unable to count the numbers for the two flight paths separately. However, at least 200 flying-foxes flew through the airspace where the proposed five storey building would be located.
The flying-foxes are feeding on flowering Melaleuca quinquenervia street trees and some flowering Corymbia gummifera in the Oatley area. They are also feeding on a few (planted) flowering Eucalyptus grandis, and numerous fruiting Lillypillies (Acmena smithii). The flowering of the M. quinquenervia and fruiting of the A. smithii which commenced early last week has significantly increased the available food in the local area, and the increase in flying-fox numbers appears to be a response to this.
On evenings with good visibility I have noticed substantial numbers of flying-foxes from the Kareela camp flying west past Gungah Bay towards Oatley Park, but this evening visibility wasn’t good enough to tell whether this was still occurring.
Report from our resident Flying Fox watcher Geoff Francis (20 march 2017)
Flying Foxes important part of an healthy sustainable ecosystem.
Four days of rain preceded the walk on the 2nd of March to explore Bushland reserves in the South East Corner of Georges River Council. Four people started out, and the weather remained fine. Near Quarry Reserve we entered the northern end of Poulton Park where Oatley Bay Creek was flowing freely into a pool that was a popular swimming hole in the 1930s. The sewer main on the eastern side of the Park had not overflowed, a positive sign that it was not being infiltrated by stormwater.
As we descended the valley, the transition from shale soils to sandstone was reflected in the trees – fewer figs, cheese trees and blackbutts, more angophoras, peppermints and bloodwoods. Graham pointed out areas formerly occupied by dairies and a quarry, where contractors had carried out bush regeneration. At the southern end of the Park a control burn about six years ago has resulted in extensive regeneration of wattles and heath species. Close to Morshead Drive we visited the mangrove boardwalk opened by Kogarah Council in 2001 with support from OFF and Coastcare.
Zig-zagging along streets above Kyle Bay, we entered Kyle Williams Reserve at the end of, Wentworth Avenue. The peppermint, bloodwood and blackbutt woodland had undergone a recent ecological burn; a hyacinth orchid was flowering and dark green spear-shaped leaves of bonnet orchids were common in patches. The lower slopes of the reserve were heavily infested by exotic plants but there was evidence of recent work to remove lantana and other weeds. We found an overgrown exit at the southern end and headed to Carss Park to meet up with three more OFF members.
Tim Ball provided a welcome morning tea while Liz quoted from Alan Fairley’s history of OFF, some of the obnoxious actions and words of Kogarah councillors who opposed the protection of Poulton Park’s mangroves in the 1970s.
A variety of salt-tolerant herbs and shrubs, including samphire, was growing vigorously behind a protective fence; the tide was high so we could not see if marine organisms had settled in the constructed sandstone rock pools facing Kogarah Bay. Georges River Council has just announced it will create another environmentally-friendly seawall at Dover Park West.
For our first meeting of 2017, 60 members and guests welcomed Associate Professor Stuart Khan from UNSW School of Civil & Environmental Engineering to the podium. Stuart informed us of the current plan to ‘Make Parramatta River Swimmable Again by 2025’ which has been entrusted to the Parramatta River Catchment Group – an amalgam of River Councils, Sydney Water, Dept of Planning and the EPA.
There are currently swimming baths and beaches along the river that had been used historically (and still are) but, being a working river with a legacy of highly polluting industries along its shores, the quality of the water is dubious. Water testing over the years has revealed many and varied toxins suspended in the water column and, more worryingly, present in high densities in the sediment. Among many dirty industries Union Carbide had a large factory producing chemicals used during the Vietnam War and the resultant dioxins have entered the river and accumulated in the food chain. It is recommended that fish caught west of the Harbour Bridge not to be eaten. Industries generally do not discharge into the river anymore and there are heavy fines for doing so. However, some factories now discharge into the sewer and pay Sydney Water via a licence for the privilege.
Treatment of effluent is carried out at the ocean-end of the sewage carriers and that can prove problematic during a rain event. Stormwater enters the sewer and during heavy rain the overburdened pipes release untreated effluent directly into the creeks and river. In conclusion, swimming in the Parramatta River may well be feasible BUT unless a massive upgrade of the sewerage system is implemented then the current discharges of pollutants into the catchment during rain events will regretfully render the river risky for regular recreational revival.
Members were reminded that Oatley Swimming baths have a proud and long history, with the existence of the Oatley Swimming Club at Jewfish Bay Baths since 1927. The society will work to ensure that it remains safe in terms of water quality.
Results – The top 14 items collected are shown in Table below
Preliminary conclusions and recommendations
The foam insulation becomes a problem in the environment as it breaks up into small pieces, right down to the spherical beads ( 2-4mm diameter). At this size it would be easily ingested by aquatic fauna and birds.
Equally the plastic film remnants tear apart, wrap around vegetation and clog streams, drains and gross pollutant traps. They also become partly buried in stream bed and banks and then may be exposed in the next high flow event. They too present a threat to aquatic fauna and birds as well as vegetation due to its smothering effect.
Nine out of the top 14 items were based on a plastic material in one form or another. The foam (or polystyrene) form is increasingly being used for packaging, particularly around consumer items such as electrical appliances, as it is lightweight and helps to reduce transport costs. However, this material is not readily recycled in the general community as it is not allowed to be put into our yellow recycling bins that are regularly collected.
It is understood however that it is capable of being recycled and large quantities are actually processed by specialist companies. It needs to be made easier for residents to at least drop this material off at a conveniently located central depot. The proposed Georges River Council’s St George Community Recycling Facility to be located at Depot Rd Mortdale would be a good location and it is highly recommended that the capacity for recycling polystyrene foam waste be incorporated in this facility.
In regard to plastic bags and plastic film remnants community recycling of these materials is just starting to catch up. Plastic resulting from many food packaging situations such as bread, frozen vegetables, etc and newspaper and magazine wraps and a range of other items have recently become able to be dropped off at REDcycle bins located at certain Woolworths and Coles supermarkets.
In this regard it is highly recommended that Georges River Council also consider establishing a drop-off capacity for these types of plastics in the proposed new St George Community Recycling Facility at Mortdale.
HEAR OUR NEXT SPEAKER on 27 February 2017 - Associate Professor Stuart Khan from UNSW Civil Engineering Faculty talking about the concept of turning urban rivers – like Parramatta River – into swimmable recreation areas by arresting contaminants. Did you know that Oatley Swimming Club at Jewfish Bay Baths, has a long history and enduring existence of as swimming? It will be interesting what can tell us to do to ensure that it remains safe in terms of water quality?
Recent Leader article highlights that the River health is slipping.
The recent 2015-16 Georges River Combined Council’s report card revealed a slight decline in the ecological condition of the catchment.
With the Greater Sydney Commission’s draft region plan for Sydney South projecting 23,000 more homes in the next 40 years outlook for the waterways is unfavourable.
OFF nominated Robin Dickson, our Membership Secretary and Welfare Officer, for the GRC Volunteer of the Year Awards 2016 but those awards became incorporated in the Australia Day Awards 2017, so finally on Monday 23rd January, Robin was presented with her Georges River Council Australia Day Volunteer Award by the General Manager Gail Connolly and Administrator John Rayner, and Federal MP David Coleman. OFF representatives Graham Lalchere, Peter de Beuzeville and Liz Cameron were there to congratulate Robin.
Our nomination read:
Mrs Robin Dickson joined Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society Inc (OFF) in 1990 and for the past 23 years has been a very active member of the OFF committee. Initially she was Honorary Secretary (11 years) then, for the last 12 years, Membership Officer, and for 8 years, Welfare Officer; she continues to carry out both these roles. As Secretary she was energetic in pursuing OFF’s objectives and has efficiently resumed that extra role when the current Secretary is absent.
Robin devotes considerable time to OFF business and activities. She processes new memberships, maintains an up-to-date register of members and their contact details, and each month presents a report on membership statistics and changes to the register; she also arranges printing and postage of OFF’s monthly newsletter. She is particularly busy at the end of the year, preparing and posting membership renewal forms to about 300 members.
As Welfare Officer, Robin looks after the wellbeing of our members, some of whom are quite elderly (our Society has been active for 62 years); she visits and phones those who are housebound or unwell, and sends condolences on behalf of OFF.
We have nominated Mrs Robin Dickson because she does far more than simply fulfil her nominated duties. She is a cheerful, warm and caring woman who fosters goodwill in our community and makes everyone feel welcome and valued. These qualities in Robin, along with her gentle persistence, have contributed greatly to the very high retention rate of members in OFF. She knows, and is probably known to, every member of our Society and communicates very easily with children as well as adults. Robin is generous in acknowledging the achievements of other members of OFF – in 2004 she documented the contribution of some of our prominent members and presented it to the Oatley Heritage Group, creating a record for future reference. But she is self-effacing regarding her own contributions.
Robin attends most of the numerous OFF events and outings and is always ready to provide practical assistance – helping on stalls, welcoming newcomers and providing delicious food for catered events. Her excellent handicraft skills were called upon this year when OFF members made 50 artificial nests for a research project on the endangered Regent Honeyeater.
Lime Kiln Bay (LKB) wetland was constructed in 2000 to improve aesthetics of the area and quality of water draining into Lime Kiln Bay reed beds, mangroves and the bay itself and then into the Georges River. The wetland and surrounding bushland represent a significant community asset. There are increasingly significant environmental impacts on the wetland from urban development that are causing a deterioration in the natural qualities of the area.
Summary of Project Outcomes
Ten thousand copies of brochure were printed and at project end date 7,600 had been distributed throughout the community; 4500 via letterboxes of all residences in the catchment and the remainder via schools, public and government offices, libraries etc and via community contact events.
DRAINS ARE JUST FOR RAIN, KEEP IT CLEAN, DUMP NO WASTE, DRAINS TO LIME KILN BAY WETLAND, DRAINS TO RIVER, and A STYLISED FISH LOGO, were used to spray paint 322 messages onto 129 drains/ sites at high visibility zones throughout the wetland catchment
Four 2-hour guided walks were conducted over a period of four months. These attracted a total of 73 participants.
A page on the OFF website was set up for the project and postings were also made to OFF’s Facebook site.
A total of 8 public contact events (face-to-face) were held (eg Oatley Lions Festival, Australia Day function etc) where the project was promoted directly to an estimated 470 people. In particular the use of the Australian Museum’s catchment model at the 2015 Oatley Lions festival attracted a lot of attention particularly families with young children.
Project implementation and management:
All the proposed project elements/activities were successfully completed over a 12 month project life. The total project cost of $4,618.17 was just $68.17 over the budget (grant amount) of $4550. OFF will not be seeking any additional funds. Over 600 OFF volunteer hours were contributed to the project.
Given the small sample sizes of before and after project surveys, there was no conclusive statistically significant, discernible difference between pre and post situations. However, from the number of interactions OFF members had during the course of the project and anecdotal evidence, we believe that the range of strategies employed for awareness raising of the wetland and associated stormwater issues has been effective. OFF will continue to distribute the brochures, conduct walks and promote the wetland/stormwater message at community events in the normal course of its future activities.”
In recent years there have been significant decline in the populations of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos. Birds have been seen in urban areas feeding on introduced pines and food sources in bush parks and golf courses.
Pictures here were taken in July and August from a flock of nine seen on an Old Man Banksia (Banksia serrata) on Lloyd Street Oatley.
On Sunday 6th March, 40 people registered at Jinna Reserve South Peakhurst for the OFF Clean-up activity. Numbers from the Society were boosted by a contingent from Mortdale Girl Guides and their parents, plus some individuals who had seen our notices around the suburb.
Some OFF members took their canoes out onto Lime Kiln Bay to get access to what was lurking in
Total rubbish collected was 36 bags, nearly half of it plastic bottles; also 9 car tyres, PVC piping and metal objects. This was an outstanding result,although real success should be measures by the absence of any rubbish in our bushland and waterways. We thank all those who gave up their morning to contribute to this community event.
Report by Clean up Site Coordinator – Alan Fairley
Recently, David Mercer of Georges River Wildlife photographed some young dollarbirds leaving a tree hollow in Lime Kiln Bay on 24 January 2016 .
Dollarbirds are a summer migrant. They arrive in Australia in late spring, Sept/October and then mate and build a nest, typically in a tree hollow. They can have up to 4 young. The young leave the nest in mid summer, Dec to January.
The parents continue feeding them for some time before the young become independent.
While they are not a rare bird in Australia, they are not commonly seen in the Sydney area and it is a treat to have them nesting so close to suburbia. It is good reflection on the richness and good habitat that Lime Kiln Bay provides that these birds continue to use the area and successfully raise young.
Report by Graham Fry
“Dollar bird and chick. Noisy miners tried to chase off the chick but it stood it’s ground ” – Georges River Wildlife – 24 January 2016.
As part of the Wetland Awareness poject OFF will be conducting free guided walks around the Wetland to show interested people how the qualrity of stormwater runoff is improved and the abundant native plants and wildlife that the wetland supports. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
As part of the Wetland Awareness project OFF will be conducting free guided walks around the Wetland to show interested people how the quality of stormwater runoff is improved and the abundant native plants and wildlife that the wetland supports.
Saturday 20th February, 2016 3pm – 5pm
Meet at corner Waterfall Rd and Acacia St. Oatley
Wear sturdy shoes and a hat, bring water and sunscreen