You would have to have been living under a rock not to have seen the impact of European Wasps on businesses, lifestyles and the environment in our valley over the last few years. First seen in Victoria in the 1970’s this import, native to Europe, Asia and North Africa, is unfortunately here to stay. They form large nests which at the end of the season could number as many as 20,000 individuals.
European Wasps are very effective predators and scavengers and in their ever widening search for food kill or drive off many of the native invertebrates. They also eat fruit, garbage, human food and carrion.
The photo above shows the typical life-cycle of the European Wasp. There are several key times when trapping can have beneficial effects in control the populations. One of those is now. As the weather warms up the queens come out of hibernation and take flight to build new nests. As one queen can produce thousands of workers, trapping the queen wasps at this stage (when there don’t appear to be many wasps around!) can have a huge payback.
At this stage of the lifecycle the unfertilised queens are looking for sugars to build fat over summer. Fruit is particular attractive. Simple traps can be built to catch them. The Murrindindi Shire Council has recommended ( http://bit.ly/2v0IwMl ) using a plastic milk container, a piece of apple as the bait a mixture of honey, jam and vanilla essence to attract the wasps. The trick is not to trap the native wasps, flies and bees which are often beneficial pollinators and the honey bees. The vanilla deters the bees from the trap.
Give it a try. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
Despite the inclement weather, and looking more like a stock-riders convention than a bird watching party, more than a dozen people from the SCLG and the Murrindindi Birdwatchers gathered at Coonans Reserve in Flowerdale to do a (wet) dry-run of the Aussie Backyard Bird Count to be held later in the month.
After years of work by the Landcare group, Coonans Reserve (on the corner of the Upper King Parrot Creek Road and the Broadford-Flowerdale Road, for anyone who is interested) is now a haven for birds. The recent track extensions and removal of blackberry from the creek-side (primarily by Don and Dave) has made even more parts of this small but stunning reserve accessible. On Saturday morning during an hour long ramble over 30 species of bird were identified (see list below).
The highlight again this year was the sighting of our iconic species, the Crested Shrike-Tit. The award for sheer entertainment went to the flock of White-naped Honeyeaters (above right) feeding in the Pussy Willow (sorry birds, those trees won’t be there next year!). And the most elusive bird prize went to the Eastern Whipbird – clearly heard but only occasionally glimpsed in the dense thickets of Tree Violets.
Many thanks to Dave and Laurie for organising the event and for providing the warming coffee and cake on such a wet day. We must be cuckoo (Shining Bronze, of course, pictured right).
Are you ready for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count in mid-October?
Can you tell your currawongs from your curlews? Or do you just want to spend a pleasant morning by the creek?
The next SCLG event is a wander beside the King Parrot Creek this Saturday morning (October 1), between 9:30 & 11:30. The venue is Coonans Reserve, Upper King Parrot Creek Road, Flowerdale.
Meet at the entrance track for coffee before we start. See you there.
On a glorious sunny day last week people from Callandoon, ANZ and our SCLG ventured up the Kangaroo Creek valley (off Upper King Parrot Creek Road) to do a spot of planting along the creek-side. The recent rains made for easy hole preparation, even if accessing the site by 4WD was a bit of a slalom course.
It is amazing the change a small group can make particularly if there is a great lunch waiting at the end of the work.
Every day there seems to be a National Day proclaimed – Nat Tree Day, Nat Bat Day, etc. I’d like to propose that last Sunday be proclaimed National Guard Day – not a celebration of border control or civil defense – but a reasonable explanation of why I should be standing in the middle of a foggy paddock on a Sunday morning with the temperature hovering at about 2C. To pick up tree guards, of course!
Last year on National Tree Day (July 26) our group planted 850 trees and shrubs on Jeanette Williams’ property in Strath Creek and in doing so completed an 8 month fencing project along the King Parrot Creek AND at the same time added the final link in the wildlife corridor between Mt Disappointment and the King Parrot Creek. Last Sunday (now dubbed National Guard Day) a slightly smaller (and colder) group gathered to collect the tree guards so that we can repeat the process on National Tree Day this year (July 31).
After 12 months it was amazing to see some of the acacias standing at over 2 metres tall. Personally the sight of healthy robust banksias was gratifying. These are trees which once populated the landscape in large numbers but are now few and far between. Of course the real reason we were out there was to earn our spot at a sunny lunch table provided at Rosemary and David’s. Good food, good wine, good company.
For those interested in attending our next event, pencil 31 July into your dairies. Invitations will be sent out soon.
Public enemy #1
This type of headline brings back memories of dramatic and heroic events in places such as Beaconsfield, Tasmania and Copiapo, Chile. In many communities around the world these two words strike fear and dread into the hearts of local inhabitants.
In Strath Creek however Trapped Mynas was precisely the focus of a workshop last Saturday sponsored by the Strath Creek Landcare Group (what a difference changing a few letters makes). Seventeen people gathered in the Strath Creek Hall to construct devices to trap the feral Indian Myna.
Building traps. Fun for young…
The Indian Myna (Acridotheres tristis), pictured above, was introduced to Victoria in 1862 to control, amongst other things, the native Grapevine Moth (Phalaenoides glycinae) which was declared a pest when it took a liking to the introduced grapevine…it’s a strange old world. The bird was subsequently introduced to other states to similarly control their agricultural insect pests. The myna did little to control these insects.
Unfortunately this aggressive, highly territorial bird out-competes our native birds and arboreal mammals for nesting hollows and preys on eggs, chicks and mammal young. It is one of the world’s most invasive species and has been voted Australia’s most important pest.
Mynas are being found in increasing numbers in the Flowerdale/Strath Creek area. In an effort to control them, individuals from Strath Creek as well as the neighbouring Flowerdale and Dabyminga Landcare Groups gathered to construct Indian Myna traps which will be loaned out to the community. The trap design was taken from the website of the Canberra-based Indian Myna Action Group (click HERE).
So when you read the dramatic headlines Mynas Trapped in Strath Creek, fear not. The events will still be dramatic and heroic but no humans will be hurt.
Posted in events
Tagged Indian Myna
The Basalt to Bay Landcare Network have asked if we could share this around. It’s pretty neat.
Alright everyone. Out with those video cameras. I’m sure we can come up with something similar.