Clean-up Australia Day 2016

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.IMG_3194

Some OFF members took their canoes out onto Lime Kiln Bay to get access to what was lurking in
the mangroves, the rest picked their way around the muddy foreshores of the bay on both the
Peakhurst and Oatley Park side of the inlet.

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IMG_3173Total 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
 

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO ALBUM

 

Dollarbirds in Lime Kiln Bay

Dollarbird -Limekiln BayRecently, 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.
The birds leave Australia in late summer, March to April, and fly north to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands where they spend the winter.

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

DollarBirds Dollar Birds 24 Jan 2016

“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

Black-bellied Swamp Snake at Oatley Park

Black-bellied Swamp Snake or Marsh Snake Hemiaspis signata was found by OFF member Matt Allison on the road near the entrance to Myra Wall garden at Oatley Park on 13 February 2016.  The snake appeared to have been run over. Report was made by Liz Cameron our Secretary and past Australian Museum educator.

Black Belly Swamp Snake 13022016

This is believed to be a rare sighting for Oatley park  Matt Mo’s paper (on the OFF website) didn’t record the species in his surveys in Lime Kiln Bay between 2006 and 2014 but noted that a specimen was collected in Oatley in 1996; according to Glenn Shea (2010) that was the last record in the Australian Museum’s database, for the species in the St George area (Shea, G M 2010.  The suburban terrestrial reptile fauna of Sydney – winners and losers.  pp. 154-197 in The Natural History of Sydney; edited by Dan Lunney, Pat Hutchings and Dieter Hochuli for Royal Zoological Society of NSW).  Glenn listed the Swamp Snake as one of the ‘Suburban Battlers’ in regard to persisting in the Sydney region.
Black Belly Swamp Snake and Liz
The Atlas of Living Australia records that the 1996 specimen from Oatley was donated to the Australian Museum by Oatley resident and staff member at the Museum and donated another swamp snake in 1986. 

Average total length is reported at 60 cm; today’s specimen was 45 cm long, so it wouldn’t be fully grown.

Species occurs in coastal and near-coastal areas of eastern Australia from far northern Qld to the south coast of NSW. Usually found in low-lying marshy areas but also found on dry rocky ridges and wooded beach dunes.  Normally active during the day and at dusk, but may be active at night in hot weather.  It gives birth to live young (from 4 to 20 in a litter).

The snakes feed largely on skink lizards and frogs.  A bite from a large specimen may be very painful but not generally regarded as dangerous. (This information from Cogger 2014.  Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia; 7th edition; CSIRO Publishing).

Report By Liz Cameron

 

Lime Kiln Bay Wetland Guided Walks

W5.royal spoonbillEver wondered where your stormwater goes and what happens to it?

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
and
Saturday 19th March 2016 3pm – 5pm

 

Meet at corner Waterfall Rd and Acacia St. Oatley

Wear sturdy shoes and a hat, bring water and sunscreen
CLICK HERE FOR PROJECT FLYER

 

Wetlands Day 2 February

 World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on 2 February. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.

World Wetlands Day was first celebrated in 1997. Since then government agencies, non-government organisations and community groups have celebrated World Wetlands Day by undertaking actions to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits and promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands.  For more see Department of Environment

W8. long-necked tortoiseW5.royal spoonbill

 

Lime Kiln Bay Guided Walks

IMG_1683OFF conducted free guided walks on 8 and 12 December around Lime Kiln Bay Wetland to show interested people how the wetlands improve the quality of storm water runoff and the abundant native plants and wildlife that the wetland supports.

The walks are part of  a  project undertaken by the society to raise awareness in the local community of potential environmental impacts on the wetland from urban activities. What goes down the drain ends up in the wetland and then into the Georges River. The project is being funded from the NSW Minister for the Environment’s Conservation Fund. It will benefit the local community and Council by improving the long-term health of local waterways and reducing maintenance costs of Council’s drainage infrastructure.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE Project

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE WALKIMG_1723 IMG_1721

River Postman Outing

IMG_146930 OFF members took part in one of easier outings of 2015. After a relatively early start in order to get to Hawkesbury River station by 10am, we boarded the boat for a very pleasant 3 hour cruise on the Hawkesbury River.

Postman River Boat cruise map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There was a good commentary and the participants were surprised at the number and extent of the many small settlements that are along the shoreline.

 

 

 

IMG_1525We dropped off mail at most stops except for one, where we met by a dog who gratefully accepted his regular ANZAC biscuit!

 

 

 

 



It was a very hot day but the cooling breeze on the water helped to keep us comfortable. After a nice lunch we arrived back at the wharf at 1pm in time to catch the train back to Central and then onto Oatley. IMG_1545

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Whilst the day was not as  active as some of our outings, it was a good opportunity to socialise and I think most people enjoyed the day.

Report By Leader: Graham Fry

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE LOTS MORE PHOTOS

Regent Honey Eater Research – Capertee NP

Capertee NP Regent HE 12-18_10_2015 174OFF members are familiar with Capertee with two trips to Capertee National Park in 2012 & 2014. The society and members have provided some funding for research of Ross Crates (ANU PhD student) who is working on Regent Honey Eaters in Capertee NP. OFF recently donated some funds to Ross’s project to buy another video camera used for monitoring nests.

On 18 Nov Ross gave a update and reports ” the Regents are about to embark on a second round of nesting in Capertee NP. He reported there are three new nests near the homestead and another near the pump house on the river. Also he has found 4 new nests on “Home Hills”, the property immediately to the north and thinks another two are likely. He also reports that three fledglings from the first nesting effort in the NP are going OK. All sounds very exciting. ”

In 5 November Ross notes “  your camera will be up on a regent nest on friday. I have two new incubating females to monitor, and a hunch that there is one more to find in the national park.”

Capertee NP Regent HE 12-18_10_2015 002The Capertee River flows west to east, joining the Wolgan River at their confluence in Newnes. The river is fed by a number of minor tributaries in the upper reaches and forms part of the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment. From the upper reaches of Bogee River to Glen Davis, the Capertee river flows through the Capertee Valley, which is internationally recognised and designated as an important bird area (IBA) by BirdLife International. This designation is principally due to the fact that the Capertee Valley is the core breeding range of the critically endangered Regent honeyeater. Once distributed throughout south eastern Australia from south Queensland to Adelaide, the species has suffered a major and ongoing population decline and associated range contraction. Current population estimates suggest there may be only 300-400 birds remaining. The Capertee Valley is now recognised as the core of the species’ breeding range, and is the only site in Australia where the species can be seen on a semi-regular basis.

600x600_Amyema cambag 1The Regent honeyeater is a ‘rich patch specialist.’ This means that for successful breeding to occur, individuals must locate rich sources of nectar with which to provision young, in habitat that provides dense cover to conceal nests from predators. The most important breeding site for regent honeyeaters in the Capertee Valley is the banks of the river itself. This riparian habitat of river she-oak Casuarina cunninghamii provides the nesting substrate required by regent honeyeaters. The stretch of the river in the vicinity of Genowlan bridge holds breeding birds in most years, (including the present year), as does the open valley floor of the Capertee National Park.The riparian habitat is also of vital importance because the river she-oaks play host to a species of needle-leaf mistletoe, Amyema cambagei. The flowers of the needle leaf mistletoe are another important nectar source for breeding regent honeyeaters.

IMG_8549 Capertee River at CoorongoobaThe river itself provides their only source of drinking and bathing water. During hot weather, birds can be seen frequently taking water from the river, and bathing to help regulate body temperature.  A regular supply of water is likely to become increasingly important for breeding Regent honeyeaters given projected climate change scenarios. In addition, the river provides a bountiful supply of invertebrate fauna, which is an important source of protein for both adult and young birds. It is highly likely that the abundance of insects in the vicinity of the river is determined by the presence of water in the river.

Also critical to the successful breeding of the regent honeyeater in the valley is the flowering of a small number of key eucalyptus species, in particular Yellow box E.melliodora, White box E.albens and Mugga ironbark E.sideroxylon. It is widely appreciated that the frequency and intensity of flowering in these species is moderated by soil moisture content; periods of low soil moisture are associated with poor flowering events, which in turn moderates the frequency of breeding opportunities of the Regent honeyeater.

IMG_4678 Regent Honeyeater male Chiltern June 2010Given the importance of the riparian habitat of the Capertee valley described, any drop in the water levels in the Capertee River is highly likely to have a significant detrimental impact upon the long-term persistence of the Regent honeyeater in the wild. A reduction in water levels is likely to reduce both the frequency and intensity of flowering in nearby eucalyptus species, as well as in the long-term persistence of both the river she-oak and needle-leaf mistletoe. Lack of access to water during the breeding season may either result directly in mortality of offspring during hot weather or indirectly by increasing the risk of nest predation if parents are forced to commute further from the nest to obtain water. Alternatively, it may also inhibit the initiation of breeding altogether. A reduction in invertebrate fauna in foraging areas of breeding regent honeyeaters would also limit the protein resources to provision chicks, which could either cause offspring mortality of have negative effects on the long-term health of the birds. In summary, a regular and plentiful supply of water in the Capertee river is fundamental to the functioning of the entire ecosystem, of which the regent honeyeater plays a critical part.

(Contact Ross at my number 6379 7767)

Dolphins on Georges River

About 6 dolphins have returned to the river.  They were spotted on Sunday 1 November and again on Monday 2 November around 5:30 pm. Amongst them was the one with the notched fin as well as one with part of the fin missing which have been spotted on the river before. Thank you to Peter and Antonia Hayler of Choosypix for sending in these fantastic photos.

Powerful Owl Study on Oatley Owlets

Powerful owlet OatleyMatt Mo and David Waterhouse OFF members have just published  their observations on a pair of Oatley Owlets in a paper in Australian Field Ornithology.
This paper extends previous observations of behavioural development in Powerful Owl Ninox strenua fledglings. The study combines a near-daily visual monitoring program on a pair of owlets in Oatley, suburban Sydney, New South Wales, with corresponding pellet analysis.
The fledglings were initially fed on possums, fruit-bats, birds and insects, and first demonstrated independence by disassembling carcasses by themselves. By October, they apparently mimicked the adults’ strategy for capturing insects, and began to chase birds and bats. Behaviours thought to be part of honing their hunting skills—including tearing and ferrying strips of bark, foliage-snatching, and swooping at animals on the ground—were recorded. Such actions intensified during a period when the adults were mostly absent in November and December.