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).
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.
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.
After failing to clean up the YCDC Landcare Group cricket team on the real Clean Up Australia Day several weeks ago, the Streekers did a much better job of cleaning up the highways and byways around Strath Creek today, our own Clean Up Australia Day. And the weather was at its autumn best.
In among the 3 cubic metres of rubbish collected, as per usual, there were some treasures. These included the identification cards of several people (which we will hand into the nearest police station), cartoon action figurines, unopened cans of beer and a bong (Terry was the only one to recognise it for what it was). Bruce scored big, firstly finding 2 metres of agi-pipe which is destined for use on Callandoon (gratis). He then went on to find an unopened bottle of Penfolds wine (sans label) which he insisted was Grange Hermitage.
After separating the recyclables from the rest of the trash into the bins supplied by the Murrindindi Shire (above) we all met up at the Strath Creek Hall where Terry and Janet provided the ’real’ coffee and Susan and Ursula King had prepared a wonderful spread of edible goodies. Bruce and Terry discovered the found wine, though perfectly drinkable was probably not Grange (left).
Thanks to Susan for again organising the event. All in all a nice day for a walk… but you have to wonder why we have to do it every year.
The Streekers’ secret batting weapon (and Chris Rogers) going out to battle
‘It’s too hot’, they said. ‘Let’s play a friendly’, they said. ‘Can we play mixed teams?’, they said. And so it was the the Yellow Creek/Dairy Creek Landcare Group (hereafter known as YCDC) avoided getting a complete shellacking at the hands of the Strath Creek Landcare Group (hereafter referred to as the Str-eekers) in the annual cricket match held at the Village Green last Sunday.
The Streekers had recruited well during the off-season. Chris Rogers (former opening bat for the Australian cricket team) had to be moved down the order to number six, such was the embarrassing wealth of batting riches in the Streekers’ team.
Gentleman Jim ‘Money-Bags’ Osborne laughing at the YCDC bowling
The after-match celebratory lunch was held around the BBQ followed by an extraordinary array of deserts provided by YCDC. The traditional reading of poems by Terry and Marj didn’t prove to ode-ious and the day finished with Chris relating some tall tales and true about life with the Aussie Test team.
The official result of the match was a draw (which really makes you wonder which cricket match the scorer was actually watching!). Still, having never won one of these matches, and with a draw under our belt, we can now lose the tag of the ‘losing-Streekers’.
Many thanks must go to the Village Green for a superb venue and great hospitality and to Chris for sharing his time and running a cricket clinic for the young and the young at heart.
Chris’ tales got taller as the afternoon progressed.