FoMM Newsletter March 2023

ACT residents love nature parks

The latest Visitor Experience survey by ACT Parks & Conservation Service shows 89% of park visitors live in the ACT. The top three activities in parks are walking, nature appreciation and hiking. The top two motivations are to spend time in nature and exercise. A whopping 98% of respondents believe parks and reserves help make our region a more enjoyable place to live.
If this is you, why not appreciate nature and enjoy some gentle exercise by participating in a FoMM activity?
We are a welcoming group of north-side residents who love our bit of the Canberra Nature Park and enjoy the company of others who want to give something back to the bush on our back yard.

FoMM volunteers often see lizards like this Cunningham’s skink (Egernia cunninghami) spotted at The Fair recently. Max Pouwer loaded his photo to the Canberra Nature Map.

Third Sunday Working Bee 19 March from 9am

We will return to the site near the Hackett reservoir after our productive February working bee there.  We will dismantle plant guards which shrubs planted earlier have outgrown; remove invasive pasture grasses growing around planted native Blackthorn and other shrubs along the drainage edge, pull out seedlings of Ivy and Japanese Honeysuckle in the drainage line; and place mulch around the plantings to suppress future weed growth.
Even though the forecast for our February working bee was hot, volunteers were undeterred: this is a shady site to work in. February volunteers enjoyed close-up viewing of a Gang-gang cockatoo and Crimson rosella enjoying the watercourse. The March working bee will be cooler.
Meet at the drainage line close to the park entrance near Rivett and French Streets; see this map.
Bring sun protection, drinking water and garden gloves, if you have them; wear sturdy shoes and clothes which cover your limbs. We provide hand sanitiser, tools, gloves, and a delicious cake for morning tea. Give what time you can spare. More information about the work at the drainage line can be found here.

A Gang-gang watches over our February weeding activities at the Hackett watercourse. Photo Waltraud Pix.

A note about nomenclature

Your editor has always thought calling a lovely and important site for wildlife a “drainage line” was unromantic. FoMM volunteers have wondered whether we should call it a watercourse or an overflow – shades of Clancy.

And is it a reservoir or tank? Whatever you call it, the drainage line, watercourse, overflow is adjacent to this imposing piece of water infrastructure in the nature park at Hackett.
Photo Margy Burn.

Summer bird walk

On a cool cloudy morning, about 20 bird enthusiasts joined Peter Miller for an informative walk through grassy woodland and shrub lands.
Peter guided us to stop, listen and look for birds, and to recognise individual birds and their calls. We spotted Magpies, Grey Butcherbirds, Crimson and Eastern Rosellas, and Noisy Friarbirds in dense bush. It was exciting to see an Olive-backed Oriole high in a gum tree, and to spot a still, almost camouflaged Kookaburra in a dead tree. We watched an almost invisible Bronze Wing Pigeon walking along the brown beach at a dam. Normally they are seen in grassland or sitting in trees and fly off when disturbed. An unusually large and quiet group of Noisy Friarbirds actively foraged at the top of a tall tree.
Further up amongst the Bursaria and Cassinia shrubs, it was a special treat to observe a family of six blue Fairy Wrens lined up along a stick, swapping places by hopping over each other. In nearby trees were Grey Fantails, Thornbills, Pardalotes, and in an open space on a fallen tree a lone Willy Wagtail.
The best part was learning from an experienced bird watcher, slowing down, tuning in to the birds.
Thanks to FoMM volunteer Jenni Marsh for organising this walk. And a heads up, FoMM will present a tree walk and an evening spotlight walk in May. Look out for details in our next newsletter.

Some of the bird enthusiasts on the February bird walk. Photo Jenni Marsh.

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 nature park entrance near Tay & Ian Nicol Streets. No experience necessary – you will learn from others who will happily share their knowledge.
We are currently giving our last efforts to hand-pull St John’s Wort from patches of wildflowers but will soon move to tackling woody weeds.

A Jacky Dragon (Amphibolurus muricatus) on a weed bale at The Fair site. Photo Margy Burn.

Plant sales in March

Two native plant sales events are coming up in March.

Australian Native Plants Society sale on Saturday 18 March from 8:30am in the National Botanic Gardens carpark. See here for more information

Greening Australia autumn sale on Friday 31 March from 3pm at their Aranda nursery. See here for more information.

Sticky Everlastings (Xerochrysum viscosum) growing in the Mount Majura nature reserve. Photo from Canberra Nature Map.
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