Friends of Mount Majura (FoMM) Newsletter December 2020

It’s been a huge year of activity for the Friends in 2020 with La Nina weather bringing lots of rain and sunshine which has been great for wildflowers, but also for weeds. Most of our effort has been at the Fair site. It’s looking good, with many wildflowers flourishing under a heavy cover of spear grass – which has the advantage of being unpalatable to kangaroos. Recently a previously unrecorded species for Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie, the beautiful Austral trefoil, Lotus australis, was seen there.

Austral trefoil (Lotus australis). Photo: Waltraud Pix

We are giving ourselves a summer holiday and there will be no monthly Sunday working bees until February. Mondays at the Fair will continue in January after a final session on Monday 21 December. If you have time to spare, we begin at 9.30 but you can join us anytime. Or if you are walking after rain, pick up a bag from the entrance, and feel free to remove any Paterson’s Curse, Mustard weed (Hirschfeldia) and Saffron thistles – our current target weeds.

Meeting with Parks & Conservation Service (PCS)
FoMM representatives recently met with the PCS Area Manager, Mark Sweaney, who gave an update about PCS plans. There is a current project to update nature park signage on Mount Majura and Mount Ainslie for completion by mid-2021. PCS will seek input from FoMM early in 2021. As part of the ‘Jobs for Canberrans’ funding PCS has been able to employ people who lost work during the pandemic on track maintenance. This work will continue, in a much bigger way, with funding received as part of the new 4-year parliamentary agreement with the Greens. It is expected the busiest tracks will be rebuilt to a high standard to improve visitor facilities and one new track may be built. PCS will also develop restoration plans for individual nature reserves, to guide planting of new vegetation and undertake major works, such as erosion control. Mount Majura will be a priority, because of the potential for conservation gains, thanks to the work done by dedicated volunteers over many years. FoMM participation will be sought as the plans are developed.

Wildflower Walk by FoMM volunteer Max Pouwer
On Sunday 1 Nov 2020, about 30 people participated in a wildflower walk led by Micheal Doherty, along Clancy’s track and part of the Horsetrail track. There was an abundance of wildflowers this year, due to the amazing rainfall we’ve had this season. A number of Daisy species (compositae family) were particularly in evidence this year. Areas that are usually almost bare earth in a drier (normal) season, were covered in forbs, endemic grasses, mosaics of mosses and lichens, plus unfortunately prolific exotic weed growth as well.

Recent Wildflower Walk on Mt Majura. (Photo: Max Pouwer)

Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year. Here’s a Christmassy photo of a native cherry taken just past the top of blue metal road.

Native cherry Exocarpos cupressiformis (Photo: Jenni Marsh)

Mt Majura photos and notes by FoMM volunteer Max Pouwer

1. Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii) spotted at the Fair Housing Estate recently, feeding on the seed pods of Snowy River Wattle. This Vulnerable Parrot species requires deep hollows in large trees for nesting and has become a more regular visitor in some ACT suburbs.

2. Successful Erosion Control in this drainage gully at The Fair Revegetation site. FOMM volunteers placed a lot of debris branches and woodchip mulch in a very eroded gully, plus planted Silver and Spiny wattles (Acacia dealbata and Acacia paradoxa) alongside this gully. This year helped along by the La Nina extra rainfall, the erosion scars have disappeared and have revegetated beyond expectations.

3. Cherry Ballart (Exocarpos cupressiformis) trees and many forbs are regenerating well at this Fair exposed hilltop site. Hoary Sunrays (Leucochrysum albicans var. tricolor) a vulnerable species threatened by invasive weeds, together with Clustered Everlasting Daisies (Chrysocephalum semipapposum) are putting in a good showing this year. Some Cherry Ballarts are also fruiting prolifically this year (Clancy’s track), providing a nutritious snack for birds and humans alike (yumm…).

4. The effects of a La Nina Weather pattern with extra rainfall this year have been a mixed blessing. While invasive weeds such as St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) and Patterson’s Curse (Echium plantagineum) are a much bigger problem than usual this year, a number of endemic grasses such as Short Wallaby Grass (Rytidosperma carphoides) and Speargrass (Austrostipa species) have also responded with very good growth this year at The Fair revegetation site.

5. These Chocolate Lilies (Arthropodium fimbriatum) are flourishing at the Fair Yellow Box Woodland this year. As a personal favourite highlight for me this year, this patch of several hundred plants scattered over an area of at least 100 sq metres of grassy woodland, really shows the resilience of some endemic species to persist, despite the strong competitive presence of many exotic weeds at the Fair. This truly symbolises HOPE for endemic species for me. I just sat down to gaze, wonder and admire our amazing Aussie Flora, which deserve our attention and respect.

6. Cauliflower Bush (Cassinia Longifolia) regenerating at The Fair grassy woodlands. This is an indicator species which has special significance for important ceremonies for the ACT First Peoples.

7. Forbs regenerating prolifically at The Fair Yellow Box grassy woodland this year.

8. Bulbine Lilies seeding at The Fair this year, for a good crop in following years to come.

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