FoMM Newsletter May 2024

Weeding with Friends – Third Sunday Working Bee, 19 May 9am – noon

Mount Ainslie and Mount Majura are part of the same ecosystem and in May FoMM will join with the Mount Ainslie Weeders to remove woody weeds from a ‘common’ patch.  Meet at the Kellaway Street, Hackett entrance to the nature park at 9am or follow the signs if you arrive later.
The target weeds include the garden escapee Cotoneaster and Cootamundra Wattle, a beautiful native which does not belong in our local environment, where it is an aggressive coloniser. We will be taking out the weeds with secateurs, saws and loppers, then applying herbicide. If you don’t wish to apply herbicide you can be the ‘spotter’ or you can cut the weeds or map the treated areas.
Wear clothes which cover your limbs and sturdy shoes; garden gloves if you have them. Bring sun protection and drinking water. We provide gloves, tools and a delicious homemade cake for morning tea. All welcome; no experience necessary.
More information and a map here.

Woody weed removal is fun!  Photo Waltraud Pix.

Trial eco-burn at The Fair

FoMM is delighted that our more than ten years’ volunteer work at The Fair site in North Watson is being recognised for the transformation we have achieved. The Fair is a highly visible site within the Canberra Nature Park, enjoyed by many people as they exercise and walk dogs – always leashed, we hope, to protect the creatures such as small reptiles who share the space with local humans and their pets.
FoMM volunteers are enjoying working with staff from the Office of Nature Conservation (ONC) within the Parks & Conservation Service. In 2020, FoMM established seed nodes at The Fair to provide a Noah’s ark for native flowering groundcover plants (forbs) at risk of being heavily grazed during drought by kangaroos and rabbits. We didn’t anticipate the three successive La Niña years during which time the seed nodes were overgrown by grasses, both native and introduced and grazing animals had plenty to choose from.
We intend to replant the seed nodes and in preparation ONC proposed a trial burn of the thatch. It wasn’t entirely successful given the recent wet weather, but it was a lot of fun. We look forward to more controlled mosaic burning when the weather is better and eventually to replanting the seed nodes.
Weeding may seem tedious but as part of FoMM’s ongoing work with ONC we anticipate there will be opportunities for mapping, planting and maybe even observing some burning if you want to bring out your inner Guy Fawkes! One more reason to join us in our various activities.
You can read more about the seed node project here.

Ranger Kristy with some of the FoMM volunteers who enjoyed the burn-off. Photo Margy Burn.

Ngunnawal People and Mount Majura

Want to know more about Ngunnawal people’s traditional knowledge of Mount Majura? Tyronne Bell is a Ngunnawal descendant who shares his cultural knowledge on guided walks where he interprets the landscape, pointing out the natural resources used by Aboriginal people, including plants used for food and bush medicine, and residual evidence of Ngunnawal culture such as stone tools and modified trees. Tyronne’s next walk on Mount Majura is on June 16.
More information here.

Tyronne Bell leads a summer walk on Mount Majura. Photo Margy Burn.

Monday Mornings at The Fair

Every week a group of FoMM volunteers works at The Fair site in North Watson. We’re a sociable group and we love welcoming new participants. You don’t need to be able to recognise a weed from a wildflower – you will learn on the job. Our birder participant will point out birds he hears and sees. Sometimes there is cake. We often share the bounty from our vegetable gardens. We talk about books and music as we weed. And we all enjoy the enhanced sense of well-being from working companiably in a lovely natural environment.
We’re presently focussing on removing weeds including Blackberry Nightshade and Cleavers (Sticky weed), growing near Cherry Ballarts which are also sheltering native ground covers, like Climbing Saltbush and Stinking Pennywort. We hand-pull these weeds or cut them with secateurs. As close observers of this part of the Canberra Nature Park we often find new species of native plants and weeds. Meet us any Monday at 9.30am at the nature park entrance near Tay and Ian Nicol Streets.

Weeding prolific Blackberry Nightshade at The Fair. Photo Jenni Marsh

And talking of new weeds …

FoMM volunteers have recently noticed an unwelcome intruder, the quaintly named Cobblers’ Peg (Bidens subalternans) a fast-growing and stubborn weed, which is native to South America. It has spread in some other areas of the nature park, and we don’t want it to take hold on Mount Majura. If you see it, please take a photo and log it on Canberra Nature Mapr. And check your clothing and your dog for the seed heads which will stick like a tick!

Cobblers’ Peg growing in the Nature Park at Hackett. Photo Harriette Wilson.

April Spotlight Walk

Walk participants were treated to the sight of two Sugar Gliders (Petaurus notatus) silhouetted against the night sky as they listened quietly after darkness fell. Sugar Gliders sleep in tree hollows during the day, leaving their nests to feed at night. They spread their limbs as they leap from the treetops, rarely touching the ground as they glide, stretching an elastic skin. The sharp-eyed walkers also spotted spiders, moths and ants, a Ringtail Possum and heard Kookaburras and a Boobook owl. No microbats were spotted and walk leader Jenni believes their numbers have decreased in recent years.
Look out for details of forthcoming tree and bird walks in June.

Photo courtesy Canberra Nature Mapr – photographer Walter Ego

Want to do something for the local environment without getting your hands dirty?

FoMM seeks someone to post content to our dormant Facebook account. Or maybe to set up and post to Insta? Our active group of volunteers can provide content, including beautiful photos, but some of us prefer to weed and don’t really want to ‘do’ socials.  Contact if you’d like to do something from the comfort of your home which spreads the word about FoMM.

Fungi growing on Mount Majura. Photo Max Pouwer.

Pride Grows

Landcare ACT is supporting this new group to provide a safe and supportive space for LGBTQIA+ people and allies keen to connect with nature and do hands-on conservation activities. The next Pride Grows event is at 1pm on 19 May at Gininderry Conservation Trust. It’s been a year since Pride Grows held a planting activity at this site. As well as visiting the planting site to see the progress, Landcare’s Sally Holliday will outline forthcoming activities for people interested in joining Pride Grows events.
More information here.

Community Connectivity Corridor Plan Survey

Molonglo Conservation Group is seeking community input about existing and potential habitat corridors to support the development of management plans. The Plans aim to identify significant biodiversity areas in different landscapes and habitats; guide restoration work; increase urban biodiversity and foster community connections to nature.
Please take this short survey to contribute insights about how you use and experience nature. The survey closes on 16 May.

Eastern Bearded Dragon lizard (Pogona barbata) at The Fair. Photo Max Pouwer]

May 20 is World Bee Day

Bees play a vital role in preserving ecosystem health, providing essential pollination services for plants. Bees help to pollinate many crops that we eat or which feed farm animals. Australia is home to around 2,000 species of native be, insects which have co-evolved with our unique native flora over thousands of years. Some plant species can only be pollinated by a particular species of bee. Without bees, ecosystems are at risk.
You can find ACT events here

A bee taking pollen from a Dianella flower. Photo Waltraud Pix.
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