Koala sighting

Here I go again singing the benefits of having sensor cameras in the garden. A koala came for a visit over a week ago and we only know because it is on camera. Koala sightings are becoming less regular and the last actual sighting is from November 2017. This looks like a young one.

Before you buy that rural retreat

After visiting hundreds of properties, a few years ago I came up with a list of some of the questions to consider before buying a block of land. It is a big commitment to buy some land and often not easy to sell that same block if you decide it doesn’t suit your purpose and/or you can’t build on it, for example. Here is a link to the list of questions and suggestions on where to do some background checks.

Understanding the difference between common tussock grass and serrated tussock has a big implication on future management actions. Serrated tussock is a declared noxious weed that is difficult to control and of little nutritional value to stock.

Serrated Tussock

Waiting for a decision

A cool morning with the threat of rain didn’t deter us from taking a walk in a forest near Ballan today. The VEAC Central West Investigation Final Report June 2019, recommends this forest becomes a bushland reserve. If you have followed the local media you will have heard about the VEAC recommendations for new parks and reserves within the Wombat, Wellsford, Mount Cole and Pyrenees Range forests. The report also includes a lot of small areas that receive little attention and are worth visiting. The decision on the report was due in February and we are still waiting.

Continue reading

Keep your cat safe

After spending a lot of time making a wildlife garden and trying to attract more birds and small fauna it is very disappointing to now have to deal with cats. While some organisations rightly focus on the damage done by feral cats, recent research has highlighted just how much damage pet cats do to wildlife in urban and peri-urban areas.

We use sensor cameras to see what visits our water bowls, as despite how often we look there will be fauna that we miss seeing, especially at night. It has been disturbing recently to see cats use the bits of wood that have been placed to allow small sugar gliders get to the water bowls. Continue reading

Winter Colour for the Garden

While there is always a Common Heath (Epacris impressa) flowering somewhere in the local bush it is mainly a winter and spring flowering plant. Smaller honeyeaters love the tubular flowers as do butterflies early in the season. It is a plant only occasionally seen in nurseries despite its range of colours.

You may find Fuchsia Heath (Epacris longiflora) which is native to the Sydney Region. It has long coral pink white tipped tubular flowers in dense clusters. The photo below is a cultivar, Epacris ‘Nectar Pink’. A well planned habitat garden has something in flower throughout the year to provide food for a range of wildlife.

Earthstars

Fungi season is here and there are reports of people out collecting the culinary ones. There are lots of different ones coming up in the garden and adjoining bushland. This one is called an earthstar.

 

Holly Question

You can walk down the same track for years and then spot something you have never noticed before. In this case it is a stand of hollies with yellow and orange berries, when usually they are red. The red berried holly is Ilex aquifolium. I am not sure if this is a separate species or just seedling variation. There are specific yellow forms listed in nurseries but these bushes are wild growing weeds. Some leaves are smooth but others are prickly.

 

 

Not All Ears

Do echidnas have ears? They don’t have external ears but do have large vertical slits behind the eyes. They feel vibrations through their nose. Recently an echidna was observed in the paddock so it was easy to get a good look at it while it snuffled through the grass.

 

Nest Box Time

If you put up nest boxes then you should make time to check on them each year before the breeding season. I have to admit it doesn’t always work out that way at our place but we did check most of them a week or so ago.

One is still a work in progress as it was occupied by a possum and we didn’t have the heart to disturb it. It is an old box and in need of repair because it was made out of pine and is rotting.

Check to make sure that it is still securely attached to the tree, it doesn’t have any dead bodies inside and is still in good condition.

Fungi in Gardens

While many of us understand the importance of plants, insects, frogs, lizards, worms and birds to the health of our gardens we often overlook fungi or worry when we see them popping up in the mulch.

Fungi which comes in a multitude of shapes and colours, is the fruiting bodies of the fungal mycelium which lives below the soil. Mycelium is a web of fine tendrils (hyphae) that spread through the soil and interact with plant roots to produce food for themselves for the plants as well.

Autumn is when we start to notice a lot of fungi. The majority of them are beneficial to the garden and assist in breaking down plant material. In the bush animals such as wallabies like to munch on them as well as food source. Here is a link to a recent article in The Age about fungi as an indicator of a healthy garden. If you are interested to learn more about fungi check out Fungimap.