FoMM Newsletter – September 2023

Third Sunday working bee 17 September 1pm

For our first spring working bee we will return to the Hackett reservoir tank and nearby watercourse removing privet, ivy and other weeds growing close to the tank, spreading mulch near the watercourse to suppress new weed growth and doing some hand weeding there.

No experience is needed, and children may enjoy tasks like spreading woodchips.

The watercourse is appreciated by wildlife and park visitors. FoMM volunteers have previously treated and removed weeds there; planted local herbs such as native Geraniums and sown native grass seeds to replace invasive grasses like Phalaris.

When: Sunday 17 September 1-4pm. Give just as much time as you can.

Where: meet at the Hackett water tank, near the Rivett Street nature park entrance, close to French Street. See this map.

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

 Italian arum (Arum italicum) is a weed we will remove from the Hackett watercourse. It’s a garden escapee, probably spread from bird droppings. The plant is invasive and can be hard to eradicate once it takes hold. It may cause skin irritations and its red berries are poisonous.  Photo courtesy Canberra Nature Map.

Spring Bird Walk Sunday 17 September 8am

Walk through the woodlands with bird enthusiast Peter Miller to spot, hear and learn about the amazing variety of Mount Majura’s birds. With over two hundred recorded species, Canberra and the surrounding region has the richest bird life of any Australian capital city. Nearly half – 112 species – have been recorded on Mount Majura.

When: Sunday 17 September, 8am (sharp) – 10 am

Where: Meet at the nature park entrance at Tay and Ian Nicol Streets, North Watson (The Fair) see this map

Wear: Appropriate clothing for the weather, sturdy shoes

Bring: Sun protection, a gold coin donation for a bird species list, binoculars, a bird guide or app if you have them

More information here

Shining bronze cuckoos (Chrysococcyx lucidus)have been spotted at Mount Majura, having begun their spring migration from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Photo Brian Grinter.

Have you seen evidence of deer on Mount Majura?

Feral deer are an increasing threat in the ACT with populations from Namadgi now evident in the Canberra Nature Park. Recently there has been evidence of feral deer on the western slopes of Mount Majura – the first to be recorded there. This sighting was only 600 metres from Antill Street, so drivers please be wary on the roads near Watson. The deer destroy native vegetation and may damage gardens. They are elusive creatures, extremely good at avoiding humans – most likely you will see only droppings and tree damage. One observer on Mount Majura noted they have cleared areas back to bare earth up to 10 metres wide and pushed large shrubs out of the ground to make the clearings. If you see evidence of deer, please post your photo to Canberra Nature Map (for ‘how to’ information see here) or email it to

This photo shows evidence of tree damage and deer droppings on Mount Majura.
More disturbing local evidence a Sambar deer antler photographed at Watson. Both photos courtesy Canberra Nature Map

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 hand weeding St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) 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 these weeds.

No, he’s not from CSI – Hamish is one of the friendly Monday volunteers. Here he is wearing PPE to safely tackle weeds while using a knapsack sprayer. Photo: Waltraud Pix

Canberra region nature photography competition

Photos taken while you walk or exercise on Mount Majura can be important sources of conservation information. FoMM is a huge fan of the Canberra Nature Map (CNM), the source of many photos used in our newsletter. Anyone can contribute a photo to CNM and sometimes these photos are highly significant. For example, a photo the contributor thought showed the abundant Common Blue Butterfly turned out to be the first ACT record of the endangered Purple Copper Butterfly (Paralucia spinifera) only thought to occur around Bathurst, NSW. See photos of the butterfly here.

The Canberra Nature Map is running a photographic competition to expose more beautiful photos of animals, plants, fungi and habitat with photos judged on artistic and photographic merit. The overall winner receives $400 and there is a $200 prize for an entry submitted by someone under 18. There will also be a People’s Choice award. The competition runs to 31 March 2024 with winning entries in the various categories to be exhibited at the CSIRO Discovery Centre. More information here.

A Grey butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus) perched on a weed bale at The Fair. Photo Waltraud Pix.

Environmental volunteers visit The Fair

Small groups of 25 participants in the recent ACT Environmental Volunteers conference came on excursions to various sites in Canberra. FoMM showed off our achievements following ten years work at The Fair, in North Watson, transforming it from a highly degraded site with compacted, denuded earth and carpets of weeds. We showed photos of the site as it was, and our work enriching the soil, planting thousands of trees, shrubs and wildflowers and direct sowing native grass seeds. We took participants on a short walk around the site, showing our various mulching and erosion control techniques, talking about the seed node experiments, and the birds and wildflowers now seen at The Fair.

We are repeating this activity as a public event as part of FoMM’s 20th birthday celebrations on the morning of Sunday 12 November – save the date! The October newsletter will include full details.

Environmental Volunteers Conference excursion to The Fair site. Photo Jochen Zeil.
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