Regent Honeyeater Updates

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Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by ForumAdmin » Mon May 05, 2008 10:12 am

This is the first report received from the Project Co-Ordinator:

Exetel Sponsorship for Regent Honeyeater Project

Report for April-May 2008

Work priorities at this time of year

Propagation with schools is our prime focus early in the year, to ensure we get the seedlings big enough in time for winter planting.

Fencing began early in the year, and will continue through to early winter. Some landholders don’t begin until the autumn rains make the ground a bit softer and the fire risk lower.

Environmental weeding occurs through autumn while we wait for fencing to get into full swing.

Contacting volunteer groups and the media is important t at this time of year, to invite people to the nest box checking weekends and subsequently to the planting events.

Nest box checking is timed for the autumn, when the conditions are cooler for our volunteers, and before we get too busy with fencing and planting. It’s also good timing to avoid the gliders’ breeding season, and a valuable motivational experience for our volunteers.

Ripping the planting sites began last week, because we’ve had some rain to soften the ground a little.

Mistletoe removal has not begun as yet, because the trees were too stressed over the summer.

Progress on your sponsored sites

McVean’s planting strip beside Grant Rd

All the dead and dying pine trees have been chain sawed and removed from the site for burning.

Telephone lines have been located and fence posts laid out ready for ramming next week when the contractor is available.

Ripping to be done in the next week or two.

Moore’s eroding creek

All the ancient, derelict fences have been removed to make way for the new fence.

Wooden and steel posts have been rammed, and all wires strained.

The site was redesigned as we progressed, to make the fence lines straighter and include more habitat area.

1,920m of fencing completed.

Ripping is in progress.

Moore’s extension corridor

The Moores surprised us a few weeks ago, by offering some more land to create an extension corridor to add to the original plan.

This makes the habitat value even greater, because it connects to a major corridor that we planted in 2007.

Burr’s corridor

I then invited the neighbouring landholders to join this extension project, by planting a parallel strip on their adjacent land. They were delighted, as it also connected to an older planting we did on their property in 1997.

This joint project is fenced and ripped already.

433m of fencing, and 0.8 ha of habitat in total.

Richards’ eroding creek

All the ancient, derelict fences have been removed to make way for the new fence.

Wooden and steel posts have been rammed, and all wires strained.

367m of fencing is completed. This is reduced from the original plan, but the habitat area remains precisely the same.

The side which faces their house will have no livestock, so the landholders decided to leave it unfenced for aesthetic reasons.

That released some fencing funds for use on the Moore’s new extension referred to above.

Ripping is completed.

Thrum’s vegetated creek line

No progress as yet. The landholder works a full time job as a Petrol transport driver as well as farming and has little spare time.

In addition, he is particularly worried about the risk of vehicles and farm machinery starting grass fires in dry grass over the summer.

We should be able to progress this now that we have had some rain.

Gartland’s vegetated creek line

The new owners of this run-down property have spent the summer strengthening the old fences further along the creek. This will ensure that once our new fence is built, the planting site will be secure from sheep.

The site is pegged out and fencing materials have been purchased ready for fencing in the next few weeks.

Scott’s planting strip beside Greta Rd

The fence posts are already laid out in position along the site, and will be rammed next week when the contractor is available.

Spraying our sites will not occur until the weeds have grown much more. It’s too early as yet.

Ray Thomas,
Regent Honeyeater Project Co-ordinator.

Exetel Staff
Posts: 3663
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2004 2:31 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Regent Honeyeater Update

Post by ForumAdmin » Tue Jun 24, 2008 2:17 pm

Exetel Sponsorship for Regent Honeyeater Project

Report for May - June 2008

Work priorities at this time of year
• Propagation
The 45,000 seedlings in our nursery need constant attention to watering, fertilising, weeding and fungiciding where necessary. We also size sort all the plants into trays of even height, to avoid shading out the smaller seedlings. A great deal of care is taken to individually water each species, keeping them wetter or drier to match their requirements. This is especially important to ensure we are successful with the increasing number rare plant species we are growing.

• Fencing
We have completed 11.8km of fencing and several more sites are partly done at present.

• Environmental weeding
Woody weeds such as Tree of Heaven, Peppercorn, Poplars, Pines, and non indigenous natives, all have the ability to outcompete the local flora.

• Contacting volunteer groups
I have given slide shows to many groups already this year, including schools, universities, bird observers, and bushwalking clubs. Media contacts about our work have resulted in several publications, including Government recognition as best practice model of what should be happening across the state to preserve biodiversity in a time of climate change.

• Nest box checking

April 40 volunteers
168 boxes checked
82 Squirrel Gliders
18 Sugar Gliders

May 45 volunteers
191 boxes checked
60 Squirrel Gliders
10 Sugar Gliders
3 Yellow-footed Antechinus

• Biodiversity research projects
There are immense opportunities to observe the habitat improvements we’ve made. eg we’ve just observed Gliders & Babblers moving hundreds of metres through several of our wildlife corridors!

Research projects are also undertaken each year by university students and Birds Australia.

• Ripping
Ripping the ground to ½ metre with a 4WD tractor, greatly assists root growth and water retention.

• Spraying
Killing weeds along the rip lines is critical for reducing water competition with the seedlings

• Mistletoe removal
The Ironbarks are struggling to survive in low fertility hill terrain that has lost its top soil during the rabbit erosion days before Myxomatosis. To make matters worse they have been badly affected by ecological imbalances like insect plagues and mistletoe for years. Pruning trees at this time of year enables them to feed themselves all through the next growing season.

• Organising new sites for 2009
I’m constantly watching out for opportunities to encourage landholders who might be interested in protecting parts of their land for habitat. The work includes education about the issues, what’s in it for the farmer as well as the wildlife, and arranging grants to help with the works.

Further progress on your sponsored sites

McVean’s planting strip beside Grant Rd
Fencing completed

Ripping completed

Spraying done this week

Moore’s eroding creek Fencing completed

Ripping completed

Spraying done this week

Moore’s extension corridor

Fencing completed

Ripping completed

Spraying done this week

Burr’s corridor

Fencing completed

Ripping completed

Spraying done this week

Richards’ eroding creek

Fencing completed

Ripping completed

Spraying done this week

Thrum’s vegetated creek line

No progress as yet. The landholder works a full time job as a Petrol transport driver as well as farming and has little spare time.

He also worked a neighbour’s sfarm while the friend was being treated for cancer! The train was obviously too much and he has been sick in hospital with pneumonia!!

So I have applied for help from the Beechworth Prison team to do the fencing for him.

Gartland’s vegetated creek line

Fencing is started but the landholder has been sick with influenza and had to stop work.

Ripping and spraying to be done this week

Scott’s planting strip beside Greta Rd

Fencing completed

Ripping completed

Spraying done this week

Murphy’s creek

Removal of poplars has been completed

Regrowth from the stumps will be sprayed next summer, and the site will be ready to plant in 2009.

Other work completed

• Mistletoe removal has gone very well on 3 seriously infested sites. We hired a 60 ft cherry picker and specifically targeted many big old-growth Ironbarks that were hollow and unsafe for tree climbers. We also pruned many broad-crowned Ironbarks because these have no high attachment point for rope climbers.

• Burning off the weedy roadsides had to be called off as a result of new regulations that came into force this year. The relevant authorities were not sure about the correct protocols about who to approach first, and who had the ultimate jurisdiction to give the go ahead. The Country Fire Authority, the local Shire and the Dept of Sustainability & Environment finally worked it out, but then the grass was too green to burn!

• Clearing the excess grass is crucial for effective spraying and easy planting, so we hired a slashing contractor to do the roadside sites instead.

• Ripping the roadsides will occur in the next few days.

• Summer-growing roadside weeds were sprayed in autumn before they died off for the winter. The rip lines on roadsides will be sprayed in the next couple of weeks after the winter-growing weeds re-shoot a bit from the slashing.

Ray Thomas

Regent Honeyeater Project Co-ordinator
24 June 2008

Exetel Staff
Posts: 3663
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2004 2:31 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by ForumAdmin » Wed Sep 03, 2008 2:39 pm

Exetel Sponsorship for Regent Honeyeater Project

Report for July-August 2008

Work priorities at this time of year

• Planting

We are able to start planting as soon as the subsoil is wet, and that is usually at the end of June. We always start with the higher and rockier sites because they dry out quicker in the spring time.

To date, we have organised 15 school planting days and 3 community planting weekends, with a total of ca 18,000 seedlings in the ground.

14 sites are complete, including most of the bigger ones, 4 sites are nearly complete, and there are 10 more to go.

The largest planting weekend involved 106 people and achieved 5,100 plants in the ground by Sunday lunchtime!

• Attracting new volunteer groups

Regular volunteer groups such as bushwalking clubs etc have a fairly steady membership base, and we are fortunate to see many of the same supporters year after year.

University groups however, have a constant turn-over of students, so we need to make new contacts every year. This is very rewarding as we see new leaders emerging with initiative and drive to gather student groups to help our on-ground work.

• Fencing

We have completed 18 fencing projects, 2 are in progress at present, and 2 are not yet started.

• Propagation

We have recently shifted our nursery to a new site offered to us by a local Disability Service Provider. The new site has a crushed rock surface which provides much better growing conditions than the old bitumen. With better drainage and aerated roots, we now have fewer fungal cross-infections, less root-rot, and faster growth of the difficult species.

• Natural regeneration experiments

In addition to our conventional planting work, we are experimenting with ways to enhance the germination possibilities of seed falling from remnant trees on our sites. We have chosen to scarify the compacted soil with a tractor to achieve better moisture retention, and spraying to reduce the competition with weeds.

A large patch of hilly ground adjacent to a bush area has been worked up in this way, with the aim of connecting the bush to the roadside vegetation as efficiently as possible. It will be part of our regional corridor network, linking the Lurg Hills to the Warby Range State Park.

We will monitor closely this spring and summer to watch for germination, and hand broadcast seeds of various other local plants to add extra biodiversity.

• Mud-ball direct seeding experiments

A fun way to involve junior students in revegetation work, is making mud balls the size of ping-pong balls, and enclosing local wattle seeds etc inside! The idea is to sow them in sites where conventional planting would either be very difficult or not likely to succeed. eg very steep hill slopes, gravelly creek banks, and amongst remnant trees that take too much of the soil moisture.

We had many hundreds from our 2007 school visits, and with better rains this winter, we decided it was time to test the process. Students chipped shallow divots in the ground, while others came behind dropping a seeded mud-ball and lightly covering it over with soil. We wait expectantly!!

• Biodiversity research projects

The annual systematic survey of over 150 sites throughout Lurg is already booked and advertised for the 1st weekend in October. The survey is organised by Birds Australia and attracts around 20 of the best bird observers in the state to gather valuable data on how our habitat areas improve over time.

I have been coaching a number of university students with research projects for their course work. For example, one 3rd year student from Melbourne University is currently analysing our existing mass of nest box data, looking for correlations between occupation rates and habitat quality features like soil fertility, bush density, position in the landscape etc.

• Project tour for Canberra visitors

We recently hosted a tour of our project for 15 young graduate staff members from the Federal Dept of Natural Resource Management. They got their hands dirty helping with a school planting day and saw for themselves some of the success factors in our approach to both habitat restoration and community involvement processes.

• Browsing control on planting sites

We are poisoning rabbits on 3 planting sites and arranging kangaroo culling on approx 35 other sites to prevent loss of seedlings and damage to the bush remnants.

• Mistletoe removal

There has been no further progress during winter, as the tree climber is not available and cherry pickers would get bogged in wet paddocks.

• Roadside planting preparation

Burning off the weedy roadsides had to be called off as a result of new regulations that came into force this year. Clearing the excess grass was therefore done by slashing and then raking the excess chaff off site.

Ripping is complete.

Spraying was undertaken in autumn to kill the summer-growing weeds, with a follow-up in winter to control the winter grasses. Paterson’s Curse on one roadside will be sprayed a total of three times before planting in 2009.

• Organising new sites for 2009

I have already arranged 23 new sites for fencing and planting next year, including some extensive bush blocks that have been open to grazing for decades. The work entailed farm visits to talk about the ecological issues, how the plantings will help landcare as well as the wildlife, and then applying for government grants to help farmers with fencing and planting.

Progress on your sponsored sites

Moore’s eroding creek

Fencing, ripping, spraying, planting all completed

Moore’s extension corridor

Fencing, ripping, spraying, planting all completed

Burr’s corridor

Fencing, ripping, spraying, planting all completed

Scott’s planting strip beside Greta Rd

Fencing, ripping, spraying, planting all completed

Richards’ eroding creek

Fencing, ripping, spraying, completed
Planting half done

Gartland’s vegetated creek line

Fencing is completed on one side of the creek.
Ripping, spraying completed

McVean’s planting strip beside Grant Rd

Pines all removed and poisoned
Fencing, ripping, spraying, completed
Planting half done

Murphy’s creek

Removal of poplars is complete
Regrowth from the stumps will be sprayed next summer

Thrum’s vegetated creek line

Stewart has completed an unrelated big fencing project single handed, as the prisoner work team has been not available for months. He will move on this project shortly.

Ray Thomas

Regent Honeyeater Project Co-ordinator
3 September 2008

Exetel Staff
Posts: 3663
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2004 2:31 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by ForumAdmin » Thu Nov 06, 2008 6:00 pm

Exetel Sponsorship for Regent Honeyeater Project

Report for September-October 2008

Work priorities at this time of year


This winter/spring we organised 21 school planting days, 4 community planting weekends, and most recently, a series of emergency planting days to get the final few sites done. It was extremely gratifying that people were happy to come and plant these extra sites even at short notice. Their comments indicated a high regard for our work and commitment to helping achieve our habitat goals.

The grand total is well over 31,000 seedlings to date, and we have just 2 more roadsides to do.

Looking after our volunteers

Regular volunteer groups such as bushwalking clubs and university groups a major support base for our work. Even after the students graduate from their studies, many continue to come and even bring friends from their newfound professional networks!!

We repeatedly hear remarks from volunteers, about how well-organised and structured our planting weekends are compared to other projects elsewhere. We take pains to keep the overall team work flowing seamlessly, and people often say that their time and efforts are being respected not wasted. They come away from the planting weekends feeling that their efforts really are making a difference; the word “inspiring” comes up often!


We have completed 20 fencing projects totalling 14,422 metres, with 3 more sites set to begin as soon as the fence post ramming contractors are available.

Seed collection

With the very dry spring weather, we have begun seed collection earlier than usual, and will continue this into Dec/Jan. We are planning to involve small groups of volunteers and a couple of school groups on an environmental camping excursion to Lurg.

Ecological thinning set to begin

After months of planning, we have been granted official approval for the thinning of over-dense young “pole forests” in Lurg. The work, beginning in November, will remove up to 70% of the tree stems, allowing the remaining trees and understorey vegetation to grow more lushly.

I have worked closely with the Dept of Sustainability and Envir to develop appropriate research methodology to demonstrate to ecological benefits of the process. The first step will be baseline floristic surveys and trunk diameter measurements that will allow for “before and after” comparisons.

Direct seeding

We have direct seeded understorey species amongst the remnant trees in a number of important remnant bush blocks this winter/spring. Our experience with planting in these circumstances shows that the water use of the remnant trees makes planting success rates pretty poor.

3sites were done by machine, using 2700gm of seed on approx 13km of sowing lines. 2 more sites were sown using the students’ mud-balls, and a further 2 by placing scarified seeds in small mattock holes.

Increasing the shrub density in this way is a crucial step to attract small woodland birds that are currently excluded by aggressive Noisy miners.

Bird search weekend

Early October saw the 4th annual threatened bird search of the Lurg Hills. Over 20 expert bird observers conducted systematic surveys of over 150 sites throughout Lurg, and found a remarkable 115 species in a day and a half! Their observations confirmed once again the success of our high density plantings. I was repeatedly struck by the marked difference in small bird numbers in open areas compared to our planted areas.

Other biodiversity research

Several university students are conducting research projects for their course work at present. Two undergraduates are looking at nest box data and the 3rd is undertaking a PhD studying lizard and beetle populations as indicators of the habitat improvements we have made over the ears.

Browsing control

We have arranged the renewal of kangaroo culling permits on approx 35 other sites to prevent loss of seedlings and damage to the bush remnants themselves.

We have also poisoned rabbits on 3 planting sites to demonstrate to landholders the effectiveness of the new Pindone bait, and encourage them to believe the task is actually do-able. Our shooters have also recently dispatched 300 rabbits in 3 visits on just one property alone!

This ongoing work by local shooting clubs has begun to make a significant impact as we are now seeing small pea bushes appearing in remnants that were formerly grazed to the ground.

Mistletoe removal

2 more sites have pruned during early spring by our tree climber and we will call in the cherry pickers for other more dangerous trees shortly.

We’ve also accomplished a large amount of manual pruning using long pole saws from ground level. Corrections Victoria crews and Conservation Volunteers Australia have been very helpful in this work.

Mobile Landcare Group

I’ve also been working closely with an enthusiastic group of 4WD people who wish to contribute to a conservation cause while they are out enjoying their trips up country. They have come for several years to learn our planting techniques, nest box placement criteria, and now wish to assist us with mistletoe pruning in steeper terrain where 2WD vehicles can’t go.

They are coming for a day of placing new nest boxes in mid Nov, and a weekend of mistletoe pruning in late Nov.

Roadside planting

We have slashed, ripped and sprayed the weeds on several kilometres of roadsides, and have already planted many of the open stretches to create continuous wildlife corridors. A further 2 emergency planting days are planned for next week to finish the remaining areas.

Spraying was undertaken in autumn to kill the summer-growing weeds, with a follow-up in winter to control the winter grasses. We are systematically working on the Paterson’s Curse on one roadside to prepare it for planting in 2009. It has been sprayed twice already this year, (autumn and spring) and will be sprayed again after more seed germinates next autumn.

Recognition of our achievements

I was recently invited by the editor of the Journal of Ecological Management and Restoration to apply for inclusion in the Top 20 Restoration Projects in Australasia. We are currently listed as Highly Commended and await the final judgement later this year.

The editor is currently using my application to as the basis of a major feature article for inclusion in the journal early next year. It has strong implications for scientific interest in our project as researchers across the world look for best-practice models and opportunities to verify the wildlife outcomes of on ground works.

I have also recently written an article for the Australian Landcare Magazine, to outline the strategies we use and the achievements of the past 14 years.

Progress on your sponsored sites

Moore’s eroding creek

Fencing, ripping, spraying, planting all completed

Moore’s extension corridor

Fencing, ripping, spraying, planting all completed

Burr’s corridor

Fencing, ripping, spraying, planting all completed

Scott’s planting strip beside Greta Rd

Fencing, ripping, spraying, planting all completed

Richards’ eroding creek

Fencing, ripping, spraying, planting all completed

Gartland’s vegetated creek line

Fencing, ripping, spraying, planting all completed

McVean’s planting strip beside Grant Rd

Fencing, ripping, spraying, planting all completed

Murphy’s creek

Removal of poplars is complete
Regrowth from the stumps will be sprayed this summer
It will be ready for fencing and planting in 2009

Thrum’s vegetated creek line
The fence post ramming contractor has been hard to pin down, but is due to do this site in the next few weeks. Running the wires can proceed quickly after that.

I am applying for some prison labour to assist this worthwhile project, as Stewart works full time off the farm as well as doing the farm work in his time off.

Ray Thomas

Regent Honeyeater Project Co-ordinator
6 November 2008

Exetel Staff
Posts: 3663
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2004 2:31 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by ForumAdmin » Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:43 pm

Exetel Sponsorship for Regent Honeyeater Project

Report for January - February 2009

Work undertaken in past 2 months

• Propagation with schools is our prime focus early in the year, to get the seedlings big for winter planting.

• We have already worked with 15 schools and have 8 more to go in the next 2 weeks.

• There is daily nursery work, watering and fertilising the seedlings to bring them on as quickly as possible.

• We are currently building a new shade house from recycled materials to protect seedlings from severe heat.

• Farm visits to finalise the list of planting sites for 2009

• Accurate measurement and mapping of all sites, to calculate the amount of fencing and planting to do.

• Arrange fence post ramming contractor and commence the on-ground work.

• Arranging a work crew to assist farmers with fencing.

• Arrange kangaroo permits and volunteer shooting clubs to control numbers before planting season.

• Environmental thinning completed on our 0.8 hectare experimental plot.

• Seed collection and cleaning has continued over summer as different species have reached maturity.

• Contact volunteer groups and the media, inviting people to our nest box checking weekends.

• Contact bushwalking clubs to help them plan ahead for our planting weekend dates.

• Report writing for various funding bodies on our 2008 achievements.

Sponsored activities not yet started

• Burning off is still too risky

• Slashing weeds is still too risky

• Ripping will begin after we’ve had some rain to soften the ground

• Spraying weeds will begin after autumn rains bring germination

• Mistletoe removal has been on hold over summer, because the trees are too stressed

• Woody weed removal has been on hold over summer, because stressed weeds will not take up the poison

• Bus fares for school planting days will be required in planting season

• Cost share in catering for our volunteer planting weekends will be required in planting season

• 2 li cardboard tree guards will be purchased in April as a lead up to planting season

Up-dated list of planting sites

Site Fence length (m) Total area (ha) Reveg area (ha)
Boord Lower paddocks by Bacon Rd 500 8.0 5.0
Bruce Open areas S of quarry hill 375 1.0 1.0
Bruce Ecological thinning site Nil 0.8 0.8 natural regen
Burton Corridor along high saddle 906 5.4 2.7 planted
1.5 seeded
Daniel Broad gully line N of house Nil 5.0 3.5
Daniel Slopes S of house to ridge Nil 6.0 6.0 natural regen
Anna Griffiths Open areas near new gate Nil 2.0 2.0
Anna Griffiths Natural regen & direct seeding Nil 5.5 1.2
Houghton Erosion gully S of Foubister’s 615 1.2 1.2
Houghton Joint corridor E & N of Moore’s Lane 1372 3.2 3.2
Geoff Moore Joint corridor E of Moore’s La 1212 2.7 2.7
Geoff and David Moore Creek line S of Richards 963 9.0 6.0
Geoff Moore Wooded hill above creek 752 4.6 4.2
David Moore 20m strip along Granite Rd 1060 2.5 2.5
Murphy Creek line S of Houghton’s 455 1.0 1.0
Murphy Unmade road widening & house hill remnant 396 3.0 1.2 planted
1.0 seeded
Rees North slopes of house hill Nil 2.0 2.0 planted
1.0 seeded
Richardson Remnant bush on big hill 245 20.0 2 planted
5 seeded
Roach Bush remnant 361 5.0 1.5
Welsh Corridor bypass around dam Nil 0.3 0.3
Ziermann Treed gully lines W of house 1360 3.1 2.9
Bacon Rd Kennedy Rd to Old Lurg Rd Nil 2.3 0.9
Embling Rd Open areas, middle & S end Nil 9.6 2.6
Greta-Lurg Rd Embling Rd to Upper Lurg Rd Nil 6.8 3.2
Gunn’s La Kilfeera Rd to Holland’s Crk Nil 4.4 1.3
10,572 114.4 54.1 planted
8.5 seeded
6.8 nat regen

Note that a few projects have been postponed for this year for various reasons. eg:

• Murphy’s creek will need 2 years of spraying to kill the regrowth poplars, so planting will need to be in 2010.
• Chant family is building a new home, so they have no time for planting this year.
• Burtons are busy renewing many of the old fences on their property, so 1of their 2 projects had to be delayed.
• Wortmann’s entire property is to be sold as a habitat area, so fencing to exclude livestock will not be needed.

Fortunately we’ve found equally valuable projects to take their place. eg:

• Murphy widening an unmade road to complete a crucial habitat link that we started in 2007
• Murphy removing woody weeds from a valuable bush remnant and restoring indigenous understorey
• Rees planting 2 ha next to an old growth roadside will provide a valuable “habitat node”
• Rees direct seeding amongst the 1998 planting site will further enrich the understorey diversity

Several projects have also been redesigned to boost their habitat value. eg:

• Burton’s high saddle corridor will now span almost 800m and extend to more than 100m wide!!
• Houghton’s unmade road project will be extended a further 160m to connect with another bush remnant.
• Roach’s bush area will be enlarged to include the fertile gullies, thereby boosting wildlife food reserves.
• Ziermann’s creek line will be widened to include more fertile creek flats and the wildlife dam.
• Geoff & David Moore’s creek will be fenced to include many old trees and will extend to over 100m wide.

Ray Thomas,
Regent Honeyeater Project Co-ordinator.
2 March 2009

Exetel Staff
Posts: 3663
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2004 2:31 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by ForumAdmin » Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:20 pm

Regent Honeyeater Project Recognised Internationally

An expert panel of scientists has just announced a list of The Most Outstanding Ecological Restoration Projects being undertaken in Australia and New Zealand. Among these was the local Regent Honeyeater Project, which has worked for over 14 years restoring habitat for threatened species in the Lurg hills near Benalla.

“As in so many other fields, Australia and New Zealand are demonstrating world class activity in the field of ecological restoration", said Craig Copeland, a member of the selection panel. “We wanted to showcase the outstanding work going on in Australasia, to provide examples for others to follow, and to make a difficult job a little bit easier."

“Large and increasing efforts are necessary across the world to rectify the enormous degradation of the environment that has occurred in recent centuries. Many communities and governments are working hard to halt the degradation and bring native ecosystems back to some level of sustainable function. So we want to highlight the positive results that are now starting to show, to encourage others to aim high”, Mr Copeland added.

With nominations coming from all over Australia and New Zealand, a shortlist of the "Top 25 Projects" was selected, including 17 projects from Australia. These represent areas as diverse as the Murray-Darling Catchment, the Great Barrier Reef, the Kimberly, South-west Western Australia, Atherton Tablelands, the Snowy Mountains, and Tasmania. Ecosystems under restoration include wetlands, bushlands, rainforests, grasslands, deserts, rivers and marine ecosystems.

A further 18 projects were listed as "Highly Commended". These projects were seen as highly inspirational, and showing great promise for even more impressive results as time goes on.

The 18-month search for the top projects was jointly initiated by Ecological Management & Restoration (EMR), the management-oriented journal of the Ecological Society of Australia, and the Society for Ecological Restoration International (SERI), the world’s premier restoration body. The specialist panel was made up of two ecology professors, two restoration specialists, a consulting ecologist and the EMR journal’s editor.

The release of the Top 25 list has been timed to coincide with two major international conferences to be held in August in Australia this year – the INTECOL conference in Brisbane and the SERI conference in Perth. Hundreds of scientists and managers from all over the world are expected to attend each conference, with many attending both events.

The 17 Australian projects in the Top 25 category are: (alphabetically)

Alpine wetland restoration - NSW/ACT/VIC
Arid Recovery, South Australia - SA
Bounceback – Ecological Restoration in the Rangelands of South Australia - SA
Clarence Floodplain Project - NSW
Gondwana Link Project - WA
Grassy Groundcover Research Project - VIC
Great Barrier Reef Restoration - QLD
Greening Western Sydney - NSW
Jarrah forest ecosystem restoration following bauxite mining - WA
Kooragang Wetland Rehabilitation Project - NSW
Lord Howe Island Ecological Restoration project - NSW
Puckapunyal Military Area - VIC
Sea to Lake Hume Fishways Project - NSW, VIC, SA
Southern Atherton Tablelands Wildlife Corridors - QLD
Sydney Bushcare - NSW
Sydney Olympic Parklands: Ecological Restoration Elements - NSW
Watering Wetlands on Murray Floodplain Private Properties – NSW

The 18 highly commended projects are: (alphabetically)

Bitou Bush Management for Biodiversity Restoration
Buntine-Marchagee Natural Diversity Recovery Catchment
Carpentaria Ghost Net Programme
Hydro Construction Site Rehabilitation in Western Tasmania
Kimberley Fire Regime Restoration (Ecofire)
Ku-ring-gai Flying Fox Habitat Restoration Project
Marra Creek Waterponding Demonstration Program
Merri Creek Environs Restoration
Montague Island Seabird Habitat Restoration Project
Ravensworth State Forest Vegetation Complex
Regent Honeyeater Habitat Restoration Project
Riparian Restoration in the Southern Murray-Darling
SA Urban Forests - Million Trees Program
Scott Creek Restoration in the Southern Mt Lofty Range
TPAG Threatened Flora Recovery Programs
Waterfall Gully Regeneration Project
Willoughby Council’s eco burn program


For further comment on this inspirational ‘Top 25’ initiative:

For a short summary of each project:

Detailed reports describing the Top 25 (and 18 Highly Commended) projects are on the Australian and New Zealand pages of the Global Restoration Network website, a web-based information exchange site for restoration scientists and managers the world over. ... w-zealand/

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Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by ForumAdmin » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:15 pm

Annette and I took a day off on Friday to travel to Benalla in Victoria to visit one of the fauna protection/regeneration programs that Exetel supports. Not wanting to face the eight - nine hour drive from Sydney (two ways in three days) we flew to Melbourne and rented a car which cut the drive to something less than two or so hours. Since I first arrived in Australia I have always loved 'country Australia' more than I have ever been able to develop a fondness for the two Australian cities I have lived in and even a 'quick as a flash' trip like this reminded me of why that has always been the case. Friendly people, everyone you talk to treats you like a friend you have lost touch with, and a care and regard for other people that is simply missing in city dwellers.

It was raining cats and dogs for most of the trip up the Hume Freeway from the airport so my views of the 'country side' were basically the backspray from the rear tires of the semis and other vehicles we overtook but it eventually cleared up as we approached Benalla - a town I haven't been to for over 30 years (since I sold a computer to the local credit union - which is still there! the credit union not the computer). Everything about the town had changed, of course, but we went to the pub I remembered next to the railway station and Carton Draught from the tap still tastes good.

We had booked in to a b and b close to the town centre and had dinner in a recommended local restaurant (a far cry from the 'cafe' I remember) and had an excellent meal with a local wine (Stanton and Killeen Durif) I had only tasted once in my life before - much better year and one third of the price I last paid. The barman made me a Martini to my instructions and when it wasn't quite right, without prompting he tried again and got it just right and we had a runnong conversation throughout the meal about drinks he had made in different places at different times and qualities, failings and triumphs of the local and fast growing wine industry (now becoming more well known for wine other than the Morris and Stanton and Killeen reserve Muscats and Tokays. The meal was exceptional and it is a delight to eat food that was grown a few kilometers from your dining table though the quantities, as in every country town I've ever eaten in, remain of truly challenging proportions. We had no trouble sleeping that night.

On Saturday we drove out to the 'meeting place' where some 80 - 100 volunteers (many from Melbourne but also people from Ballarat and Bendigo and other places in the immediate district) were assembling to be given their instructions and directions for the inspection of around 270 (out of 410) 'nesting boxes' provided in an attempt to increase the rapidly diminishing populations of squirrel gliders, sugar gliders and brush tailed phascogales. The briefing by the project leader (Ray Thomas and his 2 i/c) was thorough, informative and devoid of 'padding' and after each designated leader had loaded their 10 meter ladder off we went under lowering skys and rain showers for a day in the surrounding bush tracking down the nesting boxes and checking the contents and other key data on the provided analysis sheets.

We spent from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm (with a 20 minute break for a sandwich) checking our eighteen boxes and got fairly wet on occasions but there were one or more (once 4) gliders of both types in more than half the boxes but no phascogales. We had a truly great day chatting with the truly nice Ray Thomas and his niece and her husband and their four year old daughter and it was great to be back in the bush again and doing something useful - though my legs were certainly stiff at the end of the day from the ladder climbing and bush walking up and down the various gullies and creeks.

At the end of day Ray guided us back to town and we said goodbye to another great Australian. He started the project 14 years ago and has given his time since then to planting many tens of thousands of a mixture of 40 different trees and shrubs to, eventually provide habitat to allow the Regent Honey Eater to arrest its decline and, hopefully, move away from the critically endangered zone. While waiting the 20 or so years it will take for the habitat to grow to a maturity that will allow that to happen it has become dense enough for 142 species of rare and seldom previously seen birds to return to the area.

Ray also fills in the 'off season' by making and placing the nesting boxes (we inspected) to assist the endangered squirrel glider both survive and move its isolated population towards the other populations in the Great Dividing Range where there is different genetic material so that the species can become stronger. The boxes are also used by squirrel gliders and, a major bonus, by the occasional brush tailed phascogale that hasn't been seen (alive) in the area for decades.

If only there were more Australians like Ray Thomas and the volunteers who help make this, one day, a reality.

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Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by Hangie » Fri May 01, 2009 10:53 am

I note the recent Exetel May 2009 news letter has a short commentary on land management practices in the area:
One sad aspect of the day was to see, first hand and at close range, what dreadful things have been done to the Australian bush by inept and ignorant farming and 'wood harvesting' over the last 200 years by Europeans and for the previous n,000 previous years by the "original inhabitants" 'firestick farming' so beloved of some very misguided people. What was once densely wooded, with multiple varieties of large (predominantly ironbarks), medium, small trees and hugely diverse shrubs and plants is now a wasteland of scrubby eucalypts that are so densely overgrown none of them survive beyond 10 or 12 years.
I must have misread this, are you stating that "dreadful things" have been done to the bush by the firestick farming of the last 40k or so years, and that is evident by the condition of the area you visited? I'd be most interested in any published work that quantified change to the ecosystems in the area that you visited. I'd suspect that the presence of most of the endangered endemic fauna would be in part due to the fire regime that once existed.

On a tangent, may I suggest that Exetel considers using the Google Earth outreach project as a means of demonstrating its support of works preserving endangered species? Shoot me a note if you want more info.

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Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by ForumAdmin » Fri May 01, 2009 11:57 am

Exetel Sponsorship for Regent Honeyeater Project

Report for March - April 2009

Work undertaken in past 2 months

• Our propagation work with 23 schools produced almost 40,000 seedlings, some of which will be held over to 2010 as they take 2 years to grow to planting size.

• The nursery work includes watering, fertilising, fungal control, insect control, weeding, and size sorting. Many seedlings are already up to planting size, and we intend to start planting soon because of the early rains.

• Ripping has begun now that we’ve had some rain to soften the ground; 5 sites are completed.

• Woody weed removal has occurred on 3 farms & 4 roadsides; with much chainsaw work as well as poisoning.

• Rabbit control to protect planting sites has occurred on 3 properties, using poison as well as shooting.

• Mistletoe removal has begun now that the trees are less stressed. The 4WD clubs are coming for as weekend in late May and the contractors will undertake further work before winter.

• Farm visits have finalised the 2009 planting sites & I'm beginning discussions about possibilities for 2010.

• Fence posts have been rammed on 6 farm sites and along 1 roadway.

• Fencing has been completed on 5 sites.

• Arranging and conducting 3 nest box monitoring weekends for over 150 people, including leader recruitment, gathering equipment, map revisions, zone allocations, documenting box locations.

• Kangaroo permits have been arranged for 40 landholders and the volunteer shooters are controlling numbers in exposed areas near our planting sites.

• Seed collection and cleaning continued over summer, and we now have a substantial seed store to undertake direct seeding amongst remnant trees where planting is unsuccessful due to moisture competition.

• Burning off is about to begin now that restrictions have been lifted.

• 2 li cardboard tree guards have been ordered and will arrive in mid to late May.

• Speaking engagements have been arranged with several universities and bushwalking clubs etc to attract further volunteers for our planting weekends.

• Applying for and securing a place for our project in the Top 25 Restoration projects in Australasia.

• Writing a major scientific paper for the Australasian Journal of Ecosystem Management and Restoration, about our aims, strategies & achievements.

• Arranging media coverage of our propagation work with schools and our nest box monitoring weekends.

Sponsored activities not yet started

• Slashing weeds will begin where burning off is not possible.

• Spraying will begin after rip lines are completed and the weeds have grown enough to ensure a good kill.

• Bus fares for school planting days will be required in planting season.

• Cost share in catering for our volunteer planting weekends will be required in planting season.

• Environmental thinning work will not begin until after the planting season.

Ray Thomas,
Regent Honeyeater Project Co-ordinator.

1 May 2009

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Posts: 3663
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Location: Sydney

Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by ForumAdmin » Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:18 pm

Exetel Sponsorship for Regent Honeyeater Project

Report for May - June 2009

Work undertaken in past 2 months

• Nest Box monitoring

We conducted 3 major weekends involving ca 160 people, and monitored all 380 boxes at least once. With so many willing volunteers, we had the opportunity to check most of the boxes 2 or 3 times across the autumn. This picked up significant trends in seasonal movements of Gliders, young Gliders leaving their family of origin to start new families, and even overnight shifts from one box to another! Full report is in preparation.

• Possums for mistletoe control

We placed 40 boxes for Ring-tailed and Brush-tailed Possums to attract them into dense mistletoe areas as a natural control. Our monitoring in May found 15 boxes with possums, all of them singles that were presumably dispersing juveniles. This was just 12 months after installation, so it tells a powerful story about the desperate need for hollows!! There will be families in the boxes by spring time and less mistletoe by next autumn!!

• Babbler monitoring

One of our long term local volunteers, Nigel Lacey, has recently completed his annual survey of threatened Grey-crowned Babblers and demonstrated that the population is no longer in decline!! In fact it has risen significantly in the past year. Summary of the report was sent recently.

• Writing up and disseminating our research findings on Babblers and Gliders

It is crucial to inform landholders, schools, universities, volunteers, funding supporters, and wildlife agencies about the success of our combined efforts. Sharing the good news is a natural way of encouraging people and keeping them motivated. Many volunteers and schools have expressed great satisfaction to know that their work has made a real difference.

• Media interviews

Many media interviews have arisen as a result; including local papers, regional papers and ABC radio. Still further volunteers are coming to light as a result of this extra exposure.

• Melbourne Museum

Education officers at the Melbourne Museum came to film our last nest box weekend and separately interviewed me, to assemble an exhibition about environmental restoration. The display, comprised of video footage, interviews, static items, art works, and a moving backdrop of Lurg Hills scenes, will be a major feature of the community education area for several years.

• Slide presentations

Several slide presentations have been given already to bushwalking clubs, Melbourne cycling club, local schools, and Benalla garden club, to inform them of the issues we are dealing with, the successes we've had, and to enthuse them to join in the on-ground work. There will be several more when universities resume in 2nd semester.

• Fencing

All of our sites are now completed, which came to a total of 11.7km on 14 sites. Fencing materials were generously provided by the Goulburn-Broken Catchment Management Authority, through fencing grants for each landholder. The CMA also assisted with labour and post ramming via their Drought Employment Program, which employs drought-stricken local farmers to work on community-benefit projects such as these.
These unprecedented levels of local support for our fencing projects came as a direct response to our lack of success in the Federal Government's "Caring for Country" grants last November. The CMA basically underwrote the cost of these 14 sites, to make sure our habitat projects could go ahead.

• Roadside fencing

We have also fenced a 2km stretch of roadside, to protect seedlings that we planted to fill the gaps in habitat along the road verge. The seedlings are at risk when cattle are walked to the farmer's loading ramp 2 or 3 times each year. Our temporary fencing was largely built from recycled materials and will be moved again to a different roadside when these seedlings reach 5 or 6 years and are tall enough to cope.

• Drainage work on roadside planting sites

Some of our 2008 roadside planting sites were badly waterlogged, with poor seedling growth rates as a result. We worked hard with shovels amongst our planted seedlings to clear the blocked culverts and dig well-graded drainage lines. This will reduce unwelcome weed growth and ensure rapid growth of our young trees.

• Slashing

2 of the major roadsides we are planting this year were overgrown by grassy weeds, so they have been slashed by tractor to make the ripping and planting easier.

• Ripping

The sites have all been ripped to 50cm, allowing the rains to soak deep into the ground, and easy digging for the planting teams.

• Spraying

Weed spraying along the rip lines is about to begin now that the weeds have all germinated. We use only non-residual Round Up to ensure the safety of our planting groups.

• Nursery work

The year's crop of around 40,000 seedlings has been watered, weeded, size sorted, fungicided, fertilised and generally cared for very professionally by Andrew Snowdon and our local volunteers Dale, Paul and Peter. The seedlings are looking very healthy and ready to plant as soon as the schools return from their holidays.

• Ecological burning

After decades of grazing in the hilly parts of the district, many scattered bush areas have only a few hardy shrubs species remaining. 2 sites totalling about 6ha were burnt in early May to trigger mass germination of other seeds that have lain dormant in the soil since the sites were cleared decades ago.
A 3rd site in a broad flat gully has fertile soil and extra moisture, but was unfortunately very weedy. The burn off will allow us to spray the weeds as they regrow and the site will be planted this winter to become one of the richest habitat sites for the year. Thanks to members of the Glenrowan and Greta West CFA brigades for their generous time input, and their expertise in handling these hot fires.

• Woody weeding

We keep a sharp eye out along roadsides and paddocks for imported plants that have the ability to move into bush areas and take over. The issue is that these "foreign" plants can crowd out the local plants which the local wildlife depend on for their food and habitat.
The list includes many exotic plants such as Tree of Heaven, Cork Elm, Tagasaste, Peppercorn, Willow, Prunus, Poplar, as well as a number of native plants from other parts of Australia such as Cootamundra Wattle, Sydney Green Wattle, and River Sheoak. We keep revisiting these weeding sites each year to remove any new seedlings, and fortunately the germination has dropped off to almost zero in many cases.

• Mistletoe removal with 4WD club

Some enthusiastic 4WD clubs have been supporting conservation projects for several years, making a valuable contribution particularly in terrain where 2WD access is difficult or impossible. They recently obtained sponsorship from a cherry picker hire company and came to Lurg to tackle some serious mistletoe infestations.
Working both from the tower and with long pole-saws from the ground, the team pruned scores of trees over an area of several hectares. We are restoring the natural balance mechanisms on the pruned site by enriching the understorey through a combination of ecological burning and planting.

• Kangaroo permits arranged

I have encouraged landholders in areas adjacent to all the bush blocks to apply for a kangaroo control permit, to help us reduce the population to sustainable levels. This will reduce chronic overgrazing of the understorey in the bush and protect our planting sites nearby. We have already observed significant seedling germination in many bush areas where the pressure has been removed.

• Ecological thinning

DSE biodiversity staff recently visited our trial site to see the results and revisit the basic aims and methods to achieve those aims. They were highly supportive of our work and affirmed our judgment to "open up" the forest in stages not all in one go. It was also very rewarding to discuss alternative work procedures for the next site later this year that would enable us tackle large-scale sites and get bigger results for our efforts. This work has enormous significance as a trial to develop efficient procedures to revitalise the habitat value of over-dense regrowth bush blocks all across the state.

• Fauna crossing point for Hume Freeway

After several years of planting wildlife corridors within the Lurg Hills, it's now time to help our threatened species move across the Hume Freeway into the Warby Ranges. I have sought approval from VicRoads to plant eucalypts in the median strip, so that Squirrel Gliders and birds can cross easily and safely, thus broadening the gene pool in the long-term. They are very supportive of this plan, especially in light of the success of the ropes bridges last year. We'll hopefully be able to plant in 2010

• ANU "Engaging Visions" project

Researchers from the Arts Faculty at the Australian National University are running an "Artists in Residence" style program to give their tertiary students an in-depth experience of environmental issues in a particular district. Students will visit the Benalla area for 3 field trips this winter and spring, to visit various sites, to see the community responses to the issues, and develop their own art works. A final art exhibition will tell the stories and invite further community practical input.
Our project will be featured as both an ecological and educational context for the learning at all levels.

• Certificates of appreciation for all our schools

Simply to say thanks for the crucial part the teachers and students play in our project. We are committed to involving students in a positive activity where they can make a difference, and I often hear from teachers how much they value the opportunity. It's as much about cultivating values and attitudes in the leaders of tomorrow as it is about planting trees.

Sponsored activities not yet started

• Bus fares for school planting days will be required through the winter and spring planting season.
• Cost share in catering will be required for our 4 volunteer planting weekends in August/September.
• Environmental thinning sites for 2009 have been identified and work will begin after planting season.

Seeking approval for budget reallocation

As a result of the CMA fencing grants and labour from the Drought Employment Program, we have not been able to use the fencing money allocated in my original application to Exetel. Accordingly I wish to seek approval to reallocate these funds to a similar project that has been simply out of our reach for several years.
I wish to upgrade some old fences that were built in the earlier years of the project, when government grants for fencing were only a fraction of what is available to today's farmers. Several fences were built somewhat under-strength, while others were designed to exclude sheep but have been subsequently damaged when the management changed to cattle.
Extra funds are required for fencing materials, post ramming and labour to strengthen these fences and protect the sites from grazing for the long term. I have several sites in mind, with a total of several kms of fencing.

With thanks,
Ray Thomas.

30 June 2009

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Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by raymond » Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:38 pm

Regent Honeyeater Newsletter

Planting season 2009 comes to a successful close
• Firstly a huge vote of thanks to those hardy souls who came to the rescue recently to help us finish the last few planting sites.

• 105 people came to join us over a period of 9 days in October, with an amazing 3386 seedlings planted on 3 sites. The groups ranged from only 7 people up to 19, showing just how much can be achieved by a small dedicated team!!!

• Going back to check how the plants are faring in the current hot weather, we are seeing very promising results. Well over 90% of the plants are standing tall, so we are simply replacing the few that didn't make it, and watering all the recently planted seedlings that haven't had a rainfall yet. It's hot work but absolutely vital to protect all that hard effort by our volunteers.

Planting totals for the year
• 1080 school students were involved over 24 planting days, planting a total of 12,833 seedlings
• 410 community volunteers were involved in the 4 planting weekends, planting 15,154seedlings
• a grand total of 35,621 seedlings planted this year
• 110 hectares of habitat restored on 34 sites
• 13,452 metres of fencing constructed

Direct seeding
• 29.5 km of direct seeding by machine
• 7 sites totalling around 9.6 hectares
• We used 6,300 gms of seed (well over a bucket full), so you can imagine how many seedlings will come up in the next few years!!
• The aim is to regenerate understorey in areas of scattered remnant trees where conventional planting is unsuccessful. (The trees simply take up too much water and the seedlings suffer badly!)
• We also direct seeded 2 other sites by hand, using mattocks to scrape a divot and then lightly covering the seeds with soil

Some trials
• Planting herbaceous species (eg daises and lilies) without tree guards to see if they establish quicker and more successfully in the full sun. This creates a risk of rabbit predation, but the guards have a risk of too much shade, and perhaps even collapsing over small plants before they're big enough to hold their own.
• We chose 8 sites with better native grass cover to give these delicate plants a better chance
• We selected bare soil niches between the tussocks to hide the seedlings
• We minimised the soil disturbance using Hamilton Planters to avoid attracting rabbits
• My recent visit to a site done in July, showed daisies standing tall, flowering well & about to drop seed!

Monitoring older sites
• Many sites from previous years have daisies, and indeed many other shrubs species, regenerating naturally from seed falling off the original planted seedlings.

• This is exactly what we've been aiming to achieve!! It is critical that the understorey can thicken up by itself over time, so the shyer and rarer birds can find the necessary dense shelter.

• Without this natural seedling germination, the habitat will become just like most of the local bush blocks – all trees and no shrubs.

• And the understorey species are really the "bread basket" for many wildlife species, providing nectar, seeds, and insect food, as well as safe nesting sites.

Grazing in older sites
• So this is the main difficulty with grazing in a planting site. Any seedlings trying to germinate are always eaten off, and we never get any replacement understorey as shrubs die of old age.

• The bigger trees can cope of course, but the small shrubs, the herbaceous plants, and especially the nitrogen-fixing wattles, peas and She Oaks, are all systematically removed.

• All those smaller plants have been grazed out of the district for so long that the "trees only" scenery appears normal to us. But it's actually missing most of the plant species that were originally here.

• And these smaller plants are really the engine room that drives the ecosystem, keeping it healthy for the long term. So it seems a pity that grazing removes the very plants which are most helpful in restoring the landscape! See below.....

Some benefits from understorey
• Did you know that our native daisies attract several butterfly species that only lay their eggs on mistletoe? And when the caterpillars hatch, they eat mistletoe so thoroughly they destroy whole clumps!

• Our local wattles are useful too. They are a magnet for Squirrel Gliders looking for a feed of sugary sap. And here's the interesting bit: the Gliders also clean up leaf-eating insects that are at the root of dieback in your trees. A single Glider can eat over 20 kgm of Christmas Beetles during just one summer!!

• Then there’s all the birds which nest or shelter in the understorey shrubs. Did you know that birds take up to 60% of the available insects in a healthy woodland? Planting the right shrubs will help put an end to the relentless insect attacks on your valuable old trees.

• And that’s only half the story! Nectar-rich shrubs like Sweet Bursaria, Tea Trees, Rice Flowers and Everlasting Daisies also attract a range of parasitic wasps and flies that are very helpful to the farmer. With nectar as their energy source, these wasps will hunt all day for insect pests like Cockchafer Grubs, Christmas Beetle larvae and Grass Hoppers that destroy valuable pastures!

Bird search
• The 1st weekend in October saw an influx of some of the state's best bird observers to survey over 150 sites throughout the Lurg hills. In just a day and a half, the team found 128 different species, (a record!) including many threatened species such as Grey-crowned Babblers, Swift parrots, Turquoise Parrots, Painted Button-quail, Red-capped Robins, etc. There were many significant reports from our planted areas as well; including Button-quails in a site that was just a paddock only 8 years ago!!

• There were generally fewer birds in total, due to poor breeding success in the recent run of dry years. However, the species diversity was high, because many migrant species such as White-winged Trillers, Cuckoos, Rufous Songlarks, Little Friarbirds, and Cockatiels have come to find refuge here over the summer. This adds still more significance to the special nature of the Lurg Hills environment.

• In fact it seems we almost certainly have more bird species than any other farming district in the state!! The many large forest blocks, the old growth trees along many roadsides, and the wooded creek lines have been the core habitat for decades, but more and more of our 410 planting sites have reached an age where they are providing good habitat as well.
National recognition of our work
• We were "highly commended" in the Top 25 Ecological Restoration Projects in Australasia, Aug 2009
• We were the main feature article in the Ecological Restoration and Management Journal, Aug 2009
• We received the "Conservationist of the Year" award from Australian Geographic Society

And of course, none of the action would happen without solid support from so many landholders, schools, community volunteers and our funding sponsors. This is really recognition of a huge team effort.

Special thanks
• To Andrew Snowdon, for his amazing contribution to our project over the past 7 years. He has now moved on to manage his own project with the Rural City of Wangaratta and we wish him very well.
• To Kristin Monie, who joined our team so capably during this year's busy planting season.
• To our regular local volunteers Paul, Peter and Dale, who work so reliably with us 2-3 days every week.
• To our voluntary project committee who manage the administration and all our financial dealings.
• To the landholders of the Lurg Hills, who have given so much of their land to the future of our wildlife.
• To our schools & volunteers from bushwalking clubs, universities, cycling clubs, scouts, guides, etc etc
• To our generous sponsors – Norman Wettenhall Foundation, Exetel, SP Ausnet, Rockwell Collins, Goulburn-Broken CMA, Envirofund, and "Caring for Country" Grants from the Federal Government.

I hope to see you next year on some of our activities. The work is rewarding, there are many good friends to make in the process, and it's a fantastic experience to look back at what you've achieved in a weekend!!

Nestbox monitoring weekends: 20/21 March 17/18 April
Planting weekends: 7/8 Aug 21/22 Aug 4/5 Sept 18/19 Sept

Ray Thomas,
November 2009

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Posts: 3663
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Location: Sydney

Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by ForumAdmin » Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:46 pm

Exetel Sponsorship for Regent Honeyeater Project

Report for November - December 2009

Work undertaken in the past 2 months

• Watering the last few planting sites
To protect the volunteers' hard work, we bucket watered the final few planting sites that missed the winter rains. Since then, we've had good rains and these sites are safely on their way now!!

• Rabbit control
One creek site was badly infested with rabbits so I've been visiting regularly to poison the burrows and ensure our volunteers' work is protected. It's been a good opportunity to gain in depth experience with Phostoxin and Pindone, so that I can guide and encourage other landholders who feel overwhelmed by the problem.

• Arranging kangaroo permits and volunteer shooters
I arrange the regular monitoring and control of kangaroos across the district so that our planting sites are protected. With kangaroo groups sometimes up to 150 or more, even the bush remnants themselves have been overgrazed for decades. The work of our 3 local field and game clubs over the past few years has reduced kangaroo numbers to a more balanced level. We are now seeing natural regeneration of understorey in bush remnants that previously had only trees and bare ground.

• Environmental thinning flora surveys
The recovery of ground flora in last year's thinning site was quite obvious during the spring growth period. We also undertook detailed monitoring through standardised quadrat surveys and found not just extra vegetation bulk, but several plant species that clearly had germinated as a result of the soil disturbance.

• Confirming, measuring and mapping 2010 planting sites
I've been contacting landholders about potential new sites and have been delighted by the huge response. We have many extremely significant habitat sites confirmed and are working with several new landholders who haven't been involved before. Visiting to measure and map the sites always gives opportunities to open people's eyes further to the special values of their land and the contribution that their sites will make to protecting the threatened species.

• Arranging CMA grants for 2010 planting sites
I'm passionate about making sure today's landholders don't have to foot the bill to fix landcare problems that were started generations ago, so I present all the individual site plans to our local CMA and arrange fencing and planting grants for each landholder.

• Reporting to funding bodies
Overall results for the year have been reported back to our government funding sources including the Goulburn Broken CMA and the federal government's Envirofund.

• Guidance re nest box building and placement
The news of our successful nest box program often brings queries from other projects wishing to do similar things, and they call from all across the nation. Most recently was Parks Victoria asking for advice on the best locations for boxes in the Warby Range State Park to get optimal use by Squirrel Gliders.

• Seed collection and cleaning
Kristi and her small team of volunteers have been out collecting seeds of many species since late October. The sudden dry hot weather ripened the seeds very rapidly so it's required a lot of detailed reconnaissance to watch for different species and get them at the right time. They've gathered a wonderful variety, including some big harvests for direct seeding projects next year. Great work!!

• Seed sowing and propagation
The wattle and pea seeds have been carefully heat treated and a total of nearly 80 seed trays sown. With the help of our new automatic watering system, the seeds are germinating nicely ready for mass propagation with the schools next February.

• Arranging blackberry and woody weed spraying for new sites
Thinking ahead to make sure the sites will be ready for planting next winter, it's time to look ahead and make sure the really troublesome weeds are dealt with months and months ahead. We'll burn the dead material next autumn and then spray any regrowth after the rains come.

• Confirming university research projects for 2010
With 420 sites now planted, the project provides a huge outdoor laboratory for researchers in many fields. We have lots of our own data already, but there will clearly be new exciting things to learn from other investigations in our district. Next year we will have a Deakin University PhD student studying Grey-crowned Babblers in the Lurg district and a Melbourne University student studying the levels of carbon sequestration in our older planting sites.

Sponsored activities not yet started
• Environmental thinning
Sites for 2009 were identified and the landholders were keen to go ahead, but our main labour force was not available. The local prison team, who did an excellent job on the 2008 site, have been busy rebuilding farm fences in the bush fire areas all this year. We'll try again in 2010.

With thanks,
Ray Thomas.
23 December 2009

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Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by Shady » Fri Feb 26, 2010 5:40 pm

Exetel Sponsorship for Regent Honeyeater Project

Report for January - February 2010

Click here to download: ... b_2010.doc

Posts: 436
Joined: Wed May 23, 2007 11:19 am

Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by Shady » Fri May 07, 2010 2:19 pm

Exetel Sponsorship for Regent Honeyeater Project

Report for March - April 2009

Work undertaken in past 2 months
-Completed the cleaning and storage of the mass of seeds collected in late 2009.
-Propagation with schools was our prime focus early on, to get seedlings big enough for winter planting.
-To date we have propagated approx 40,000 seedlings and involved almost 1000 students.
-Our daily nursery work, watering and fertilising, is producing excellent healthy growth.
-The new potting mix formulation is producing better growth rates and little or no fungal diseases.
-We have completed construction of a covered work area for our volunteers on very hot or rainy days.
-We have purchased and fitted double shade cloth and windproof weed mat to protect newly potted seedlings.
-We have installed automatic sprinkler systems to 2 shade houses to free up staff time for wider duties.
-I've been training our new staff member (Anthony) in seedling care & teaching students on propagation days.
-I've given presentations to many school groups about the special animals we are helping, and the big-scale success story of their work over 16 years.
-I've been busy with farm visits to finalise the list of planting sites for 2010.
-Accurate measurement and mapping of sites, to calculate the amount of fencing and planting to do.
-Arranging the Beechworth Prison work crew to assist farmers with fencing.
-Arranging kangaroo permits and volunteer shooting clubs to control numbers before planting season.
-Contacting volunteer groups and the media, inviting people to our nest box checking weekends.
-Contacting bushwalking clubs to help them plan ahead for our planting weekend dates.
-Report writing for various funding bodies on our 2009 achievements.
-Working side by side with landholders to eradicate rabbits on their planting sites.
-This is an education/encouragement role for people who have clearly been overwhelmed by the scale of the problem.
-Removing woody weeds from several planting sites, and valuable habitat roadsides.
-Arranging sponsorship for concrete culverts to assist 2 major creek planting projects.
-Running 2 major nest box monitoring weekends involving over 150 people to check over 400 nest boxes.
-Developing clear research questions that we'd like to answer through our nest box checking.
-Analysing the nest box data to look for trends and insights about population distributions, animal movements over time, habitat preferences, and use of our corridors by dispersing juveniles.
-This has opened up some fascinating lines of thought that we'll write up and share with all our supporters.
-Co-ordinate deep ripping and weed spraying of our planting sites for the year.
-Confirming Vicroads' sponsorship for our fauna crossing point over the Hume Freeway at Glenrowan West.
-Liasing with Monash Univ re an Honours year research study in our older planting sites.
-Liasing with Monash Univ re a PhD research study in our older planting sites.
-Giving talks to environment groups at Melbourne Univ, Monash Univ
-Arranging talks to classes at Royal Melb Inst of Tech, Northern Metro Inst of Tech, Ballarat Envir network, Birds Australia
-Arranging a bull dozer to clear a drought-stricken Blue Gum plantation to make way for a habitat planting.
-Pulling down old, derelict fences where they get in the way of building our new site fences.
-Burning off large areas of blackberry that we sprayed in early summer, to clear the site for planting in winter.
-Visiting several farmers to talk about possible sites for 2011.

With thanks for your support,

Ray Thomas.
Regent Honeyeater Project.
6 May 2010

Posts: 436
Joined: Wed May 23, 2007 11:19 am

Re: Regent Honeyeater Updates

Post by Shady » Mon Jul 05, 2010 2:47 pm

Exetel Sponsorship for Regent Honeyeater Project

Report for May - June 2010

Work undertaken in past 2 months

- Talk for Melbourne University Environment Collective
- Talk for Monash University Biological Society
- Talk for Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
- Talk for farming community near Ballarat on benefits of biodiversity for farming
- Talk for Birds Australia research group on our revegetation strategies & successful outcomes for wildlife
- Removing 1.6 km of worn-out fencing on Challis' creek and Ironbark hill to make way for the new fencing
- Arranging the Beechworth Prison landcare crew to do the fencing work for the aging Mrs Challis
- Removing and burning off weeds such as Blackberry, Weeping Willow on Challis' 2 sites
- Working side by side with the Beechworth crew to build over 2km of new fencing on Challis' sites
- Arranging a permit for a culvert across Challis' creek, thus keeping livestock out of the waterway itself
- Salvaging hot house frame and some useful 2nd hand steel, donated from a now defunct plant nursery
- Assisting many landholders to peg out their habitat restoration sites for this year
- Accurate measuring and mapping each planting site and arrange CMA grants for all the landholders
- Working side by side with several more landholders, giving encouragement & practical tips in rabbit control
- Advertising the job vacancy for our new field assistant, after our young employee decided to return to Melb.
- Selecting the new candidate Andie Guerin, who has exceptional skill with people as well as plants!
- Training Andie in many aspects of fencing, rabbit control, feral bee removal, woody weeding, etc
- Supervising & assisting the contractors undertaking post ramming, ripping & weed spraying on all our sites
- Assisting our volunteer Nigel, with his annual Grey-crowned Babbler survey
- Finalising & editing Nigel's report, which has exciting news about rapid population growth in recent years
- Weeding, watering, fertilising and size sorting all the seedlings in our nursery
- Modifying our summer shade-house to create a winter hot-house
- Arranging permits to plant road verges of the Hume Fwy & Old Hume Hwy - enabling Gliders to cross safely
- Arranging 2 honours year projects & 2 post doctoral projects to study habitat improvements on our older sites
- Arranging our first ever winter nest box event, to investigate seasonal Glider movements & dispersal success
- Supporting a local application to establish a Green Corps team in Benalla
- Working side by side with the Green Corps team to guide them in practical fencing techniques

With thanks for your wonderful support,

Ray Thomas.

July 2010.

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