FoMM Newsletter October 2023

FoMM is 20

In 2003 Waltraud Pix called the first meeting of what was to become FoMM, to gain support for the preservation of endangered grassy woodlands on Mount Majura’s lower slopes.

Since then, FoMM has engaged many hundreds of local residents in weeding, planting and habitat restoration at sites degraded by past activities including grazing, firewood collection and car racing. FoMM volunteers have removed countless weeds, planted thousands of trees, shrubs and wildflowers and sown native grass seed at sites formerly used for sheep camps and horse holding paddocks.

Join us at 10am on Sunday 12 November to celebrate these achievements.

The birthday party will be at The Fair in North Watson, which has been transformed by our work over the past decade.

Ngunnawal elder Uncle Wally Bell will welcome us to Country and Dr Rosie Cooney, Director of the Office of Nature Conservation, will talk about the significance of the Mount Majura nature reserve. After birthday cake and a champagne toast, FoMM volunteers will lead a short walk to show the work done at The Fair.

All are welcome but registration is essential. Entrance to The Fair site is at the corner of Tay and Ian Nicol Streets, North Watson, see this map.

FoMM volunteers at the 2019 National Tree Day. Photo Steve Bittinger.

Third Sunday working bee, Oldfield’s Lane, 9am-12 noon 15 October 2023

Mount Majura nature park is an important remnant site for the endangered Yellow Box – Blakely’s Red Gum (YBBRG) woodland, which provides important habitat for many plants and animals, including rare and endangered species.

We will return to the site of the August working bee to remove woody weeds including Hawthorn, Briar rose and Privet. This will be a ‘search and destroy’ activity in the grassy woodland of Mount Majura’s west slope. We will work in pairs, cutting the weed stems and applying herbicide. if you prefer not to use herbicide you can be the cutter, or the spotter. Alternatively, you can tackle Horehound, cutting off and bagging seed heads and digging out the woody root stock.

Meet at the nature park entrance at Antill Street, North Watson, south of the Aspinall Street roundabout at 9am. See this map. Please be punctual – we will leave the meeting point shortly after 9am to walk along Oldfields Lane to the site.

Bring sun protection, drinking water; secateurs and garden gloves if you have them. Wear sturdy shoes and clothes which cover your limbs. We provide sanitiser, tools, gloves, and a delicious cake for afternoon tea. More information here.

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). Photo Barbara Read.

New Plant Species List on FoMM Website

We have recently updated the plant species list for Mount Majura and Mount Ainslie on the FoMM website – see here.

This past year we have added 33 new species and 14 of these are local native species. Unfortunately, this means that once again we have added many new exotic species – let’s hope they don’t become invasive weeds.

It’s easy to understand why we are finding new exotic plants in the reserves – our streets and gardens are so close to the reserve boundaries, and they are full of thousands of exotic plants, many with invasive tendencies. But why are we still finding new native plants after many years of observations? Some small plants may not be new at all but are not bright and beautiful and may be overlooked. And some larger plants we know are there, may be difficult to identify, so we walk past them – things like the rushes in wet areas. Some keen observers are beginning to take up the challenge of identifying them and some have now been added to our plant list. And possibly some are actually new to the area – species distributions will change as our climate changes.

The beautiful Mountain Sun Orchid is one of the new additions. Not particularly small compared to many of our orchids, it is usually found at higher altitudes but now it is known to be on Mount Majura. For more photos of some of our new species see here.

This spring as you admire the wildflowers on Mt Majura keep looking for unusual plants, take photos if you see something unusual, and post them on Canberra Nature Map.

The Mountain Sun Orchid (Thelymitra alpina). Photo Canberra Nature Map.

Spring wildflower walk 5 November 1-4pm

Enjoy Mount Majura’s Floriade on this delightful and information-packed walk with ecologist Michael Doherty. See many different species found in grassy woodlands on the lower slopes of the mountain and discover that there is more to our wildflowers than simply looking beautiful.

Meet at the nature reserve entry off Mackenzie Street near Grayson Street, Hackett; see this map. Wear clothing appropriate for the expected weather, and comfortable footwear. Bring a gold coin donation for an updated species list.

We were fortunate to see this Canberra Spider Orchid on an earlier FoMM wildflower walk. Caladenia actensis is considered critically endangered and is only found in a few sites in the ACT, including on Mount Majura. Photo Jessica van Gronginen.

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.

At present we are tackling a variety of weeds, individually removing Horehound, thistles, Hawthorn and Sticky weed (cleavers – Galium aparine) where they are growing close to wildflowers. Some of us who have completed the Chemcert training offered to volunteer Parkcarers also use knapsack sprayers to control larger areas of weeds. We also map the weeds we spot and remove on our smartphones using a simple Fieldmaps app. Data mapped by volunteers is an important contribution to natural resource management in the ACT.

Hamish and Liese set out to map and massacre Sticky weed on a recent Monday. Photo Waltraud Pix.

Help Canberra’s pollinators – a new Citizen Science opportunity

The ACT government’s Canberra Urban Biodiversity Surveys Program is exploring the impact of urbanisation on insect pollinators and needs help monitoring sites around the ACT. It requires some insect photography know-how and a willingness to spend about 30-45 minutes for onsite surveying (plus data entry) once a month for 6 months between October 2023 and March 2024. Training sessions are being run on Saturdays in October. More information here.

A bee collects pollen from a Flax Lily (Dianella revoluta) flower; vibrating its flight muscles to shake down the pollen. Photo Waltraud Pix.

Give feedback on your experience of Canberra’s nature parks and reserves

The ACT Parks and Conservation Service is seeking feedback on visitor experience at national parks, nature reserves and plantations across the ACT. Data captured during this twice-yearly survey helps P&CS understand who is using these special places, how they are being used and what the community would like to see to improve their experiences. Take the survey here. It closes on 30 November.

A spring flower vista: Hoary sunrays (Leucochrysum albicans) on Mount Majura. Photo Waltraud Pix.
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