Save our Koalas from Extinction

The plight of koalas throughout NSW is dire. It has been predicted they could be extinct in the wild by 2050. The Report of the NSW Upper House Parliamentary Inquiry brought down on 30 June 2020 should be the basis of urgent government action.

It calls for the NSW Government to “to urgently prioritise the protection of koala habitat and corridors in the planning and implementation stages of urban growth areas” The Report made 42 recommendations for koala protection state-wide.


Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society members are great defenders of the koala colony along the upper Georges River (north-south corridor from Appin and Campbelltown and onto Glenfield before it strikes out east crossing Holsworthy Army lands towards Heathcote, Woronora and beyond).

Because the colony is healthy and breeding, koalas are moving out to find new habitat but new housing estates west and south of Appin are significant barriers, and roadkill on Heathcote and Appin Roads is a particularly serious risk to the colony’s viability.

The Parliamentary Inquiry made particular recommendations (paraphrased below), regarding protection of the koalas that form our closest population:

4. The government and (Campbelltown) council must secure protection of the koala colony and habitat before allowing any more development of the Figtree Hill Estate (at Mt Gilead, by Lend Lease).
5. The (upper) Georges River Koala National Park should be created.
12. The government should ensure the combination of underpasses and overpasses and fencing in areas of koala habitat.
13. The government must provide an overpass and underpass on Appin Rd to serve wildlife corridor entry points.
14. Road and Maritime Services should provide, manage and maintain exclusion fencing along Appin Rd.

More information including a full list of the report's findings and recommendations see:
https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2536#tab-reportsandgovernmentresponseshttps://saveourkoalas.org/

Please consider asking these members of the NSW Government to take action:
Mark Coure oatley@parliament.nsw.gov.au
Rob Stokes office@stokes.minister.nsw.gov.au
Matt Kean office@kean.minister.nsw.gov.au

For up-to-date information on what is happening with the koalas of south-west and southern Sydney, visit the following Facebook pages:
Save Sydney’s Koalas
Georges River Environmental Alliance

Water for Wildlife Report

A grant from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) was made to the society, as an incorporated body, on behalf of Peter Ridgeway, to support the costs of his volunteer Water for Wildlife project during the Australian Bushfire and Drought emergency. Peter, who works with Greater Sydney Local Land Services, assisted by many volunteers, including OFF members, and numerous local community groups purchased, installed and monitored water stations for native animals from January to June 2020.

Our direct impact

  • Hundreds of animal and bird lives were saved by provision of clean drinking water through the months following extreme drought and fire
  • At least 24 native wildlife species benefited at 67 water stations (from total of 150 stations, some of which were not engaged depending on local conditions)
Water stations in red and fire impact areas in grey

Our indirect impact

  • Over 100 people are now trained in creating and installing water stations
  • A supply depot of 150 water stations (Mulgoa) and 50 water stations (Hawkesbury) are ready for future emergencies
  • We developed a water station design that is effective, cheap, long-lasting and uses locally available materials. We developed a process for training volunteers, deploying water stations and monitoring them that is legal, strait-forward and practical. Our design and process were freely shared and were quickly taken up by independent groups:
    • Science for Wildlife Inc. (Blue Mountains)
    • Hawkesbury Environment Network
    • Penrith City Council Bushcare
    • Campbelltown Council Bushcare

What we did – This grant allowed us to:

  • purchase materials and construct 200 long-term water supply stations
  • purchase automated wildlife cameras to monitor stations and hand-held GPS to retrieve them in areas outside mobile reception
  • install 67 stations in bushland during the 2020 drought and bushfire emergency (see map below)
  • train >100 volunteers in constructing and installing long-term water supply stations
  • build an equipment stockpile at Mulgoa to ensure a more rapid response to future wildlife emergencies

 

Who we worked with:

  • Local Landcare, Bushcare and Wildlife Care groups – approx 100 water stations across all land tenures
  • Local government (councils) – approx 80 stations in local reserves
  • State government (LLS) – approx 20 water stations by staff in restricted access sites
  • Landowners & Unaffiliated volunteers – approx 40 water stations  across all land tenures

Where we installed emergency water:

Water stations in red and fire impact areas in grey
  • Emergency water has been installed across the Greater Sydney region including the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and Western Sydney.
  • 80% of all stations were deployed to burn zones (typically in unburnt vegetation immediately adjoining the burn front) and 30% in areas affected by severe drought.
  • Water stations were deployed across all tenures including National Parks (with approval), local reserves, and private land

Wildlife we helped:

  • At least 24 wildlife species observed drinking from stations
  • Mammals including Kangaroos (four species), Possums, and Wombats
  • Birds included Lyrebirds, Kingfishers, Ducks, Honeyeaters and Robins.
  • Just one feral species has been observed drinking from a station (a single instance of a European Red Fox) in addition to one animal (a single European Hare) visiting but apparently not drinking from the station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What we learnt:

  • Our IFAW water station design works: we perfected designs of 20 liter and 50 litre water stations using locally available materials. The designs proved cheap, quick to assemble, long-lasting and field-sturdy. It was quickly adopted by other groups supporting wildlife
  • Water supply stations should be used to assist wildlife during drought & fire events: Long-term water supply stations are highly effective in helping a wide range of native species survive extreme drought and fire
  • Water supply stations should be kept out for at least 2 months after these events: stations are used by wildlife for at least 2 months following rain, despite other water being available, most likely because of contamination of natural water sources with ash, silt and mud
  • Arboreal water stations are not useful (in our area): water stations in trees were not used by target animals. Other ecologists are reporting similar findings. Given the time-costs of installation in trees we will continue to target terrestrial water stations

Financial Accounting

  • Receipts for all grant expenditure are attached
  • We spent a total $6,006.86 from $6,000 awarded. 
  • Additional funding spent includes:
    • Ace Ohlsson – 40 extra bowls – $1,580 (delivered, awaiting invoice)
    • PTS - 8 monitoring cameras  – $3,227 (via Mulgoa Landcare)
  • We estimate the following in-kind contributions:
    • Greater Sydney Local Land Services: 120 hours expert staff ($9,600 in-kind)
    • Oatley Flora & Fauna Inc: 40 hours volunteers
  • Local volunteer groups: 500 hours (mostly installation & inspection of water stations & travel)

 

Regent Honeyeater on the Brink

Myles Dunphy Flying Fox Camp

It appears that the Oatley, Myles Dunphy Bush Reserve Flying-fox camp has become a permanent camp.  The numbers of Flying-foxes have ranged from about 4,400-5,500 in February.

This is an unusually large number for the Myles Dunphy Camp, the most that we have had since a peak period in February-March 2009 when 10,000-13,000 were present.  Our local record keeper Geoff Francis  suspects that the unusually large numbers are partly due to the abandonment of Kareela Camp in September.

 

 

 

 

2019 Calendar – The Nature of Georges River

Oatley Flora and Fauna Society, Oatley Heritage and Historical Society and Oatley Lions launched a calendar for 2019 at the Oatley Village Festival on Saturday. The theme of the calendar is the Natural World of Georges River Council Parks and Reserves with photos from local photographers.

There are dates for important events, school holidays, public holidays and dates for various groups in the area such as OFF and OHHS.

The calendars are NOW $5 .  Calendars will be available at OFF meetings and events.


 Copies are also available at :

Mullane’s Pharmacy – 121A Mulga Road, West Oatley NSW 2223 Ph: 9580 2365

Poveli Café and Deli -15 Frederick Street, Oatley NSW 2223 Ph: 9580 1845

AdventureCo – 18 Frederick Street, Oatley NSW 2223 Ph: 8084 3060

 

 

Flying Fox Count at Myles Dunphy Reserve

 

The Grey headed Flying Foxes departed the Myles Dunphy camp  between 8.05 and about 8.40 today. Several of us were treated to a spectacular display of about 3400 flying foxes making an exit North /Northwesterly direction from the top green of the former Oatley Bowling club site. Our resident Flying Fox watcher Geoff Francis documented the spectacle. This is the highest count since the all time high of 4170 recorded flying out on 29 March 2011. Residents have seen and heard them feasting on Figs, Palms and Bloodwoods.

Although they appear in large groups, numbers of Grey-headed Flying Foxes are declining because of habitat clearing. These bats are important to healthy forest ecosystems because they pollinate and disperse the seeds of many important tree species.

Read more at Sydney Bats website  

Also read  Sandra Guy, on Flying-foxes role in ensuring the ongoing health of ecosystems

Click here for  spreadsheet of counts from Myles Dunphy Bat Camp 2010-2018

 

 
 15 February 2018

 

 

Oatley Bay Tree Massacre

A tree massacre has been bought to our attention at the Oatley Bay Memorial Boardwalk. A nearby resident was seen removing gum trees, mangrove trees casuarinas and others on the 13th of July.

Council were notified and  on the day visited the site and confiscated a saw and ladder.  Clearing continued on  27th July and 1st August,  this was reported with photos to council.

OFF members have visited this site and seen lots of small trees and some mangrove branches cut down and the stumps pasted in black (?poison).  All the destroyed vegetation still lying on the ground. It has certainly created a ‘water view’ for the occupant of one unit in the Kingfisher block (No. 136 Morshead Drive). 

Some have noted it would seem an ideal place to erect one of those boards that blocks the view from the unit and shames the perpetrator.  It has damaged the ambience of the Memorial Boardwalk; following website says “construction was competed in October 2008 and boardwalk was officially launched by the mayor and representatives from the St George RS.  http://www.kogarah.nsw.gov.au/environment/local-projects/foreshore

Three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos were seen climbing amongst the casuarinas that were still standing, and a Magpie-Lark was foraging on the exposed mud flat – certainly an area of significance for birds.

 

 

 

Centennial Park meander in the labyrinth & swamplands

On Friday 30th June 16 members of OFF took the train and bus to Centennial Park on a crisp, clear morning.
 
After morning coffee (with good use of Keep It Cups) and singing Happy Birthday to one of our group we set off for a gentle walk to the Lachlan Swamp.
 
 
 
 
Lachlan Swamp  is a magnificent paperbark swamp and home to a Flying Fox colony. We also observed a large flock of Little Corellas  and amongst them we spotted a few Long-billed Corellas. The Long-billed are normally found in Southern New South Wales.
 
 
 
From there we proceeded to the Labyrinth where many of us followed the path into its centre and out again. This sandstone labyrinth was completed in August 2014 having taken 5 months to build. It was based on the one in Chartres Cathedral in France.
 
 
 
After a picnic lunch on the lawns in the sun we walked back to Oxford St and caught a bus to the Reservoir Park in Paddington. This park is a re-purposing of the old water reservoir – a small gem easily overlooked. It also has a lovely example of a Wollemi Pine tree.
This completed our walk. We were very fortunate to have had such a sunny winter’s day as the forecast in the beginning of the week had been very different.

Urban Habitat Creation

Georges River Council is drawing on the expertise of specialist arborist, Michael Sullings from Sydney Arbor Trees to create nest boxes in dead trees that would otherwise have been cut down and mulched. The preserving of’wildlife trees’ is increasingly important as urban sprawl drastically reduces the number of suitable habitat trees.

Michael and his team use small chainsaws to ‘sculpt’ the hollows within the trunk or branch of the tree. The size and configuration of the hollow will depend on both the tree size and the target animals. More on  urban habitat creation

 

In the Georges River local government area work has been completed on trees in:

Depot Roberts Road

Myles Dunphy Reserve

Oatley Memorial Gardens

Spooner Park

Waterside Parade, Peakhurst Heights 

In the modern age, trees are usually viewed in terms of amenity and safety, with unsafe trees being removed entirely. What is generally overlooked is which aspects of the tree could be retained for the benefit of local wildlife and biodiversity. 

Dead and decaying wood is a food source for insects and other invertebrates, which are in turn food for reptiles and mammals and birds. Trees – alive or dead – which contain hollows are habitat for all manner of organisms. 

Cavities in trees can take decades or even centuries to develop into a large enough space for birds and animals to live in.  It is estimated that 15% of Australian vertebrate species use natural tree hollows for nesting, raising young and housing1. In NSW alone, over 150 species of wildlife use cavities, and are referred to as obligate hollow users. Around 40 of these species are listed as vulnerable or endangered

As people come to a greater understanding of the importance of urban wildlife, and the supporting role that trees – dead as well as living – play, hopefully dead trees and logs will come to be seen as a thing of beauty or at least a necessity.

Full Report on  urban habitat creation

Jibbon Head

On Sunday 4th June, 15 OFF members and friends went on our annual “whale watching” walk. We arrived at Cronulla by train and car and then ferried across to Bundeena. It was a beautiful day and many people like us had decided to visit Royal National Park, consequently the ferry was quite crowded.

From Bundeena we followed the Jibbon Head track, there were plenty of wildflowers out including four species of banksia, acacias and plenty of pea flowers.


We had lunch in a lovely grassy spot overlooking the entrance into Port Hacking. It was a good spot for whale watching as well! We saw up to 10 whales, some were breaching creating spectacular splashes.   We returned to Bundeena via the aboriginal rock carvings, now protected by the construction of a viewing platform. We debated whether the two whales in the carvings were a humback and an orca and what was the significance of the two whales to the local aboriginals. Perhaps they had some cooperative arrangement with the orcas as used to occur with the whalers in Twofold Bay at Eden.


We then scarpered back in time to get the 3pm ferry which again was well crowded.We officially finished at Cronulla and satisfied that we had achieved our whale spotting goal and had a lovely walk in our great treasure, the Royal National Park.

SEE PHOTO GALLERY