FoMM Newsletter – December 2023

End of year working bee Sunday 10 December

We will return to the watercourse close to the Hackett tank to spread mulch and remove weeds including privet, ivy and honeysuckle. This watercourse is enjoyed by many birds and animals. We have replaced the weeds we have removed with native ground cover plants such as raspberries and Hardenbergia. Our repeated visits help to manage any weeds which have regrown.

When: From 9am to noon on Sunday 10 December. Give just as much time as you like.

Where: Join us at the watercourse. Enter the nature park off Rivett Street, close to French Street. See this map.

Bring sun protection, drinking water and garden gloves, if you have them. Wear clothes which cover your limbs and sturdy shoes. We provide tools and a home-made cake for morning tea. All welcome; no experience necessary. More information here.

A native bee on a Spreading Flax Lily. (Dianella revoluta). FoMM volunteers planted spreading Flax Lily at the watercourse last year. Photo Waltraud Pix.

FoMM had a very happy 20th birthday

Many friends and supporters joined us on a glorious sunny Sunday morning on 12 November to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Friends of Mount Majura.

Ngunnawal elder Uncle Wally Bell honoured us with a welcome to country. We were joined by Kurrajong MLAs Elizabeth Lee, Shane Rattenbury and Rebecca Vassarotti. Mick Gentleman, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, also attended, along with senior staff and rangers from the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate. After formalities, cake and a champagne toast, FoMM volunteers took participants on a short walk to explain the work done at the Fair.

1. Waltraud cuts FoMM’s birthday cake.
2. Uncle Wally Bell welcomes us to his Ngunnawal country.
3. MLAs Shane Rattenbury, Rebecca Vassarotti and Elizabeth Lee with Waltraud Pix.
4. Before and after photographs of the Fair site.
Photos by Steve Bittinger. View all Steve Bittinger’s photos of the party here

Wildflower walk Sunday 5 November

Michael Doherty led 35 people on his information-packed walk. On a perfect Sunday afternoon, we wandered up Blue Metal Road, through Scribbly gum grassland and back down the Casuarina trail.

Small clumps of Snow grass (Poa siebriana) with purple flowerheads, grew near short, fluffy-headed Wallaby grasses and several Spear grass species. Scattered among the grasses were groups of Yellow buttons (Chrysocephalum apiculatum), scaly buttons (Leptorhynchos squamatus) and a few bluebells (Wahlenbergia sp). Several metres away in grassy bushland, were a group of immature Blue devils (Eryngium ovinum) which will soon begin to branch and turn a spectacular blue as they form flower heads protected by a ball of sharp spines.

Native hop bushes (Dodonaea viscosa) were in full bloom past the dams. Growing among large clumps of Red-anther Wallaby grasses were a few late orchids including the Hornet orchid (Diuris sulphurea), and pink flowering trigger plants (Stylidium sp.). Under the native cherry trees was a lush groundcover of climbing saltbush (Einadia nutans) covered in tiny succulent red fruit which lizards eat. Michael noted that the flowering mat rushes (Lomandra sp.) produce seeds which are viable for up to 70 years and reliably grow back after fires.

In spite of the warm windy weather which had dried off some flowers, there was much to see, including grasses and forbs (herbaceous plants). There were no vistas of showy wildflowers, but Michael demonstrated that if we look closely, the grassland and bush is full of fascinating, colourful flowers.

A native hop bush. Photo Phil Jones.

ACT Weeds Manual

ParkCare volunteers from across the ACT have collaborated to produce a comprehensive guide to weeds and weeding. Its development was led by Vera Kurz from the Friends of Tuggeranong Hill, and supported by the ACT Southern Catchment Group, Ranger Tenzin Phuntsho and Volunteer Programs Manager Lauren McQueen.

The manual provides detailed profiles of more than 30 weeds which are rated as being high to very high priority to remove from Canberra’s parks and reserves. The profiles include colour photos and detailed drawings for grasses, to aid identification. They describe the situation in which the weed should be controlled, what method to use, the time of year to treat the weed and follow-up action needed. There is information on more than 60 lower-priority weeds to watch out for. The online manual will be regularly updated and is a testament to the expertise and commitment of ParkCare volunteers. You can download the manual here.

St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) the weed most hated by ParkCare volunteers and a scourge at Mount Majura. Photo courtesy Canberra Nature Map

FrogWatch at Mount Majura

Frogtober was FrogWatch month, when many citizen scientists recorded populations in the ACT, including some of the ponds and dams in the Mount Majura nature reserve. Participants attended a training session in September and then select a wetland, pond or dam from the Canberra Nature Map FrogWatch survey page. They complete data sheets and make a three-minute audio recording of the chorus of frogs calling in the evening to upload to the FrogWatch survey site.

Here are two examples: from the small dam near Jukes Street, recorded by the Majura Mountain Scouts, and the upper pond near Blue Metal Road, recorded by Liliya Stephenson and Anne Buck.

After all the recent rainfall, there will be lots of frogs around for the next few weeks. Although you probably won’t see many frogs, you will be amazed by what you hear. The Australian National Botanic Gardens website includes recordings which will help you to identify frogs from the calls you hear and you can download a guide to the Frogs of the ACT region here.

The Eastern Banjo Frog, or Pobblebonk (Limnodynastes dumerelii) one of the species recorded on Mount Majura during FrogWatch. Photo courtesy Canberra Nature Map.

Twilight weeding resumes in January

These summer evening sessions have been popular as people enjoy some relaxed summer time. Join us at The Fair site in North Watson from 6-7.30 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 9 January. We will be working in patches of dense wildflowers, hand-pulling St John’s Wort. Meet us at the nature park entrance at the corner of Tay and Ian Nicol Streets. In the cool of the early evening, when there are light breezes and sometimes stunning skies at sunset, it’s a very pleasant social activity.

Twilight weeders work amongst Clustered Everlastings (Chrysocephalum semipapposum) on Clancy’s Track. Photo Ernestine Kirsch.

Mondays at The Fair

Every week a group of FoMM volunteers works at The Fair site in North Watson. Meet us any Monday at 9.30am at the park entrance near Tay and Ian Nicol Streets. No experience necessary – you will learn from others who will share their knowledge.

Over the next few months, we will be concentrating on removing St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) hand pulling this prolific coloniser where it is growing close to wildflowers before it drops seeds. The tedious weeding task is relieved by working in good company, enjoying bird calls and seeing butterflies flitting through the flowers.

Max Pouwer recently photographed this Dainty Swallowtail (Papilio anactus) at North Watson.
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