Helping frog research

There are over 240 frog species recorded in Australia, many of which are unique to this continent.

But Australian frog numbers are declining and many are endangered.

The Australian Museum has launched the FrogID count, a national citizen science project that aims to count Australia’s frogs and learn more about what is happening to them.

Everyone is encouraged to get involved, discover which frogs live around them and contribute to research which will help scientists learn more about our frogs.

There are two ways you can get involved and find out which frogs live around you.

Grab your smartphone, download the FrogID app, register as a counter, head out in the field and record frog calls.

Once you’ve found some frogs and recorded various croaks, whistles, bleats and barks, match the calls to different frog species.

And if you can’t get out and about you can still contribute from right behind your desk by becoming an Audio DNA expert and validating frog recordings from the field.

By matching frog calls to weather and habitat, the data collected will help herpetologists to build a picture of how different frog species are responding to a changing environment.

The data will also be used to track the Cane Toad and to identify where frogs are thriving and where they are not.

What’s that sound?

Croaks, whistles, bleats and barks – every frog species makes a different sound!

By recording a frog call with our new app, FrogID, you can discover which frogs live around you and help us count Australia’s frogs!

To find out more about Australia’s frogs, or to get involved in the Citizen Science project visit the website: www.frogid.net.au.

Find out what frogs are found in NSW

There are 24 frogs listed as occurring in the region of Central.

Please bear in mind that frogs listed may not be found across the whole region and, in some cases, may only have been recorded on the very edge of the region.

Be prepared for the upcoming fire season

Going away? Have you prepared your property for the fire season?

Most of us try to take the opportunity for some rest and relaxation over the summer and may even get away for a break. But summer is also the time we face the greatest bushfire risk.

So how do you safeguard your property if you are going away?

Safeguard your property: Summer is the time we face the greatest bushfire risk.

 

Watershed Landcare spoke to Jayne Leary, District Services Officer, Cudgegong District NSW Rural Fire Service to find out.

“If going away over summer, the best way to prepare your property is to do what you would do if a fire is approaching.” Ms Leary said.

“The more preparation work you do around your house and other assets, the greater the chances that they will survive a bushfire.” she continued.

Remove fuel hazards from around your house and farm buildings. Things you can do include mowing and clearing vegetation from around your house and buildings. Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and twigs and move any flammable items such as door mats, BBQ, outdoor furniture, cushions and hanging baskets.

Slash fire breaks along boundary fences to help slow or stop the spread of a fire and if you have fire breaks across your property, make sure these are clear.

“What we are trying to achieve is to reduce the available fuel to make it harder for fire to take hold.” said Ms Leary.

If you have animals, what’s their plan? Who’s going to look after them? Where can they go?

You can create a ‘safe paddock’ close to the house or yards where animals can be kept in case of a fire. This could be a grazed or green paddock or a laneway, with access to water. You can prepare a safe paddock by slashing or heavily grazing the area and make sure water is available and fencing is secure.

Choose an area where dry grass and timber is minimal if you don’t have a safe paddock available. Somewhere with a large cleared area within the paddock is the best option if nothing else is available.

Notify a trusted neighbour of your plan so they can advise the fire service that you’re away and move your livestock if there is a fire.

“The better prepared your property, the harder it is for fire to take hold and the easier it is for firefighters to defend whilst you’re away.” said Ms Leary.

Continuing to improve our awareness

Local landcare group, Watershed Landcare, continues to be strong and active with this year’s activities focusing on working with it’s members and the community to improve knowledge and awareness, and to increase the uptake of sustainable land management practices.

Watershed Landcare held it’s Annual General Meeting on Friday 24 November. The meeting was well attended and gave members an overview of Watershed’s activities over the past year as well as an opportunity to mingle and chat at the supper afterwards.

Watershed Landcare continues to have strong support from our members, sponsors and partners and Landcare membership remains strong and enthusiastic.

“2017 has been a really busy year again, we have had lots of activity happening.” said Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator.

“We have hosted a range of events including grazing tours, soil health workshops, spider monitoring, and beekeeping workshops just to name a few, plus developing our strategic plan.”

“We have partnered with a number of organisations including Central Tablelands LLS, Mid-Western Regional Council, the Australian Rural Education Centre, University of Sydney and the Rare and Heritage Fruit Tree Network to deliver events in our region.” she continued.

The election of office bearers for 2018 was overseen by returning officer, Bruce Christie.

Viviene Howard accepted the nomination for the position of Chairperson. Sonia Christie, Christine McRae and Hunter White retain positions as Vice-chair, Secretary and Treasurer, respectively.

The number of nomination received for positions on the executive indicate that members are keen to be involved in Watershed Landcare’s operation and 2018 will see the committee grow by one. Christine Corner and Graeme Anderson return to the executive and will be joined by new comers Rosemary Hadaway and Jane Young.

“We are able to do so much, thanks to the fabulous commitment and dedication of our volunteer management committee.” said Ms Wythes.

“It has been a busy year, and we have some exciting things planned for 2018.” she continued.

We’re actively seeking funding from various sources to continue to deliver training, workshops, seminars, field days, on-ground works and projects to protect and enhance the environment and sustainability of our region.

The new Executive Committee will hold it’s first meeting in February 2018. All Watershed Landcare members are welcome to attend.

Workshop to help our landholders team up

The success of environmental management actions can be greatly improved when such projects are implemented across property boundaries. But starting and maintaining the momentum of a local group can be daunting and hard work. It helps to draw insight from others and receive good guidance along the way.

As part of the Landholder Collaboration Project, a workshop on ‘Everything you need to know about Local Collaboration’ will be held in Mudgee in December.

“Knowing about how to collaborate effectively can benefit all types of groups, whether they are informal or legally incorporated organisations.” said project researcher Dr Peter Ampt, Sydney Institute of Agriculture, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney.

Project researchers will share some key project insights, mapping information and guides, and cover some aspects that local groups need to consider in different circumstances and will be there to answer any questions you might have.

Come along and be part of a facilitated discussion on:

• Learning from local experiences: get inspired by the progress, achievements and aspirations of local groups in your area

• Demystifying legal frameworks: invited legal experts will help you figure out what is right for you

• Sharing monitoring data for landscape benefits: using the revamped Landcare Gateway group sites, and how GIS mapping info can help

Legal experts from the Australian Earth Laws Alliance will also be there to answer any questions about group governance, and will present their new handy guide which will be provided for free. It covers the advantages and disadvantages of incorporated and unincorporated structures, principles for successful collaboration, and what groups need to set up and think about at different stages of their collaboration.

The workshop will be held on Monday 11 December, 5:30-7:30pm, at the CWA Hall, 14 Market St, Mudgee. Attendance is free with light refreshments provided.

For more information contact Emily Berry on 0432 174 850 or e.berry@unsw.edu.au, or Alex Baumber on 02 9514 4671 or alex.baumber@uts.edu.au.

Please RSVP by 4 December to Emily Berry on 0432 174 850 or e.berry@unsw.edu.au.

This event is supported by the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales and is a part of the Landholder Collaboration Project funded by the NSW Environmental Trust.

More information on the project is available on their website: https://landholdercollab.org/

Have your say on carp control

The feeding habits of the European carp, Cyprinus carpio, have a detrimental effect on water quality and create an unfavourable environment for other species. Carp are benthivorous fish that feed in and on sediment; this is destructive to aquatic plants, which provide critical feeding, spawning and nursery habitat for native fish, increases turbidity by suspending sediments, and mobilises sediment bound phosphorus.

A new biocontrol agent to control this aquatic pest, which is now ubiquitous in all but the uppermost reaches of NSW waterways, is currently under investigation. Australia’s history of biological control hasn’t been unblemished and the public are being invited to have their say on the possible use of the use of a species-specific virus, Cyprinid herpesvirus 3.

Central Tablelands residents are invited to attend a community briefing session to find out more about the National Carp Control Plan (NCCP), the research underpinning the biocontrol agent and how potential risks are being identified and mitigated, and to provide their feedback.

The community briefing session will be hosted by the NCCP and Central Tablelands Local Land Services on Monday 27 November from 6-8pm at Bathurst Panthers Club.

NCCP National Coordinator Matt Barwick says waterways are the lifeblood of many rural and regional communities and they need to be rehabilitated.

“While these community briefing sessions are important for us to share the background, context and desired outcomes of the NCCP, they also provide an opportunity to hear from community members about how the prevalence of carp impact on them, their lifestyle or their business,” Mr Barwick said.

“We want to work collaboratively with the local community – as healthy river systems and waterways result in healthier communities.”

“We value the opinions and beliefs of people in the Central Tablelands region and we want to understand the ecological values of affected river systems and waterways and any likely direct or indirect impacts, be they social, environmental, economic or cultural, that may eventuate,” Mr Barwick said.

Central Tablelands Local Land Services is working with the NCCP to ensure local issues are considered in the National Carp Control Plan.

“We encourage all members of the community to participate in this briefing session and ask any questions they may have in relation the plan. The NCCP is a process, not a foregone conclusion so we encourage residents to share their thoughts and opinions and help shape the recommendations to government,” said Senior Land Services Officer, Casey Proctor.

This event is one of more than 40 community briefing sessions which will be held in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, the ACT, Queensland and Western Australia in coming months.

To find out more about the NCCP visit www.carp.gov.au.

For further details about the Bathurst Community Briefing Session contact Casey Proctor at Central Tablelands Local Land Services on 0429 110 072.

The importance of marking pollinators

November 12 to 19 marks Australian Pollinator week, which acknowledges our important and unique insect pollinators. To raise awareness of the essential role of pollinators in our environment and what you can do to support their needs, Watershed Landcare hosted a Native Bee Motel workshop.

Presenter Liz Davis, Central Tablelands LLS Regional Landcare Facilitator, guided participants through the building of their own bee motel to take home, as well as highlighting the function of native pollinators to ecosystem services and our environment.

Eighteen participants, including 5 children, attended the 2 hour workshop held at the Australian Rural Education Centre (AREC) last Sunday.

“It’s great to see children getting involved and learning about the important role native pollinators make to our plants.” said Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator.

“It’s such an easy thing for anyone to make and put in their back yard to provide a home for the native bees.” she continued.

The Lucknow Men’s Shed made the boxes for the motels for a series of workshops held across the Central West as part of National Pollinator week activities. Workshop participants used common materials such as dock, carrot weed stems, hemlock and old thistle to fill the boxes and provide lots of nooks and crannies for the native bees to nest in.

“Anything that has a hollow core makes a great home for native bees, it’s just a matter of using your imagination and being creative. Such a small thing makes a big difference to the population of native bees.” said Ms Wythes.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Missed out on the workshop? It’s not too late for you to get involved in National Pollinator week.

Despite there being around 2,000 native bee species, as well as a couple of thousand butterfly, wasp, fly, moth, beetle, thrips and ant species, some of which are documented pollinators, very little is known about their ecology, where they are found or what plants they pollinate.

By simply watching any flowering plant for just ten minutes you can help to build a picture of wild pollinators in your local environment and help to build a database on wild pollinator activity.

To contribute to this citizen Science project visit: wildpollinatorcount.com.

FOR TENDER – Disc Seeder

The Management Committee has decided its time to sell the disc seeder that has previously been hired to members.

The Watershed seeder was purchased 10 years ago to promote the use of disc machines for perennial pasture establishment and increased groundcover.

The seeder was built by Davimac in Molong with their standard machine fitted with Ausdrill discs. The machine has 10 single discs that allows seed and super to be sown with minimal disturbance to the existing groundcover making it excellent for pasture cropping.

Click on the image to view full size.

For technical questions or to inspect the machine, please contact Bruce Christie on 0429 986 434.

All Tenders must include your name, price (ex GST) and contact details. Tenders can be submitted to claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au

Tenders close 5pm Monday 20 November 2017.

Help protect native pollinators

Pollinators are vital to keep plant species flowering and re-producing. But did you know that many of our food crops such as fruit, wine grapes and vegetables rely on native insects for this service?

Australia has about 1,600 species of native bees, with around 250 to 300 species being found within a 100 kilometre radius of any given area.

Many native pollinators are also predators, feeding on other pest insects. Wasps, hoverflies and shield bugs can reduce the numbers of insect pests in orchards, vineyards and other agricultural crops as well as your ornamental or veggie garden.

Many native pollinators are under threat; land clearing and the extensive use of pesticide and fungicide sprays have removed their food source and their habitat.

With over 75% of flowering plants relying on insect pollinators for reproduction, the decline of their populations is bad news for biodiversity, ecosystems and the security of many of our food sources.

To celebrate National Pollinator Week, which runs from 12 to 19 November, Watershed Landcare have invited Liz Davis, Regional Landcare Facilitator Central Tablelands LLS, to run a Native Bee Motel workshop.

Come along and build your own native bee motel and learn how you can attract these fascinating little creatures to your own backyard, whether it’s a farm, bushland, suburban block or a balcony.

Native bee hotels or motels not only provide plenty of nooks and crannies for these beneficial insects to nest in but can be very decorative as well. These can be made in all shapes and sizes, the only limit is your creativity!

The workshop will be held from 9:30 – 11:30am on Sunday 12 November at at the Straw Bale Shed, Australian Rural Education Centre (AREC).

The workshop is free to attend for Landcare members and $15 for non members. Booking are essential as places are limited, register your interest by 9 November.

All welcome but children must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information or to RSVP contact Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Keep an eye out for swarms

The bees have been busy this spring, with a large number of swarms appearing across our district they have also been keeping members of the Mudgee Bee Group busy.

“Mudgee has been the hot spot this spring; the Mudgee Bee Group has collected at least 8 swarms around town, as well as a couple at Gulgong.” said Mudgee Bee Group swarm co-ordinator, Sandi Munro.

“The public have alerted us to several swarms, via our Facebook page and through the Amateur Beekeepers Association swarm collectors list.” she continued.

The Mudgee Bee Group removing a large swarm from a grapefruit tree in Gulgong.

Swarming is the way bees increase their population. Swarms can be spectacular when you see them flying over and settling to rest somewhere. Usually bees are at their calmest when swarming, but not always!

“Swarms are exciting to see, and usually easy to remove, from a branch or letter box, but if they move into your chimney or eaves of the house, they are a lot more difficult to remove, so let us know as soon as you spot them, the sooner the better!” said Ms Munro.

Mudgee Bee Group have a swarm co-ordinator that can assist with information or removal of a swarm, contact Sandi Munro on 0487 898 404.

Spring is when the bees do their most important work; pollinating trees, crops and flowers and, of course, making honey!

To help the bees this spring there are a few things you can do.

Bees use up to 5 litres of water a day per hive during hot weather to quench their thirst, and to keep the hive at a constant temperature for the brood to be healthy. In dry times you can help by putting water out for them. Bees can’t swim, so add some sticks, pebbles or corks to the bird bath to help them get out if they fall in.

Don’t use chemical sprays, especially on blooms. Spraying blooming flowers, trees, shrubs and lawns can kill bees! Even some deemed safe for humans are detrimental to bees. Even ‘safe’ sprays leave a residue that is picked up by bees in both nectar and pollen and can then end up in your honey.

Plant a bee garden – bees need food and most flowering plants give some benefit to bees by way of pollen and nectar. Borage, lavender and rosemary are easy to grow and very popular with bees. Annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs can all be planted to benefit bees.

If you would like to learn more about bees, come along to a Mudgee Bee Group meeting or find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Mudgeebeegroup). For more information contact Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or claudiawythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

The Mudgee Bee Group is supported by Watershed Landcare and the Amateur Beekeepers Association and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Keep rain on your farm for longer

Australian is a land of climatic extremes. Farmers and land managers contend with cycles of flood and drought punctuated by the odd ‘good’ year. While we rarely complain about there being too much water, we do spend a lot of time wishing for rain.

But what if you could capture that water and keep it in the landscape, and on your farm, for longer?

Watershed Landcare will be hosting a Rehydrating the Landscape workshop in November.

The workshop will be presented by Dan and Nicki Power who have constructed a system of dams and swales on their farm to rehydrate the landscape, and regenerate degraded soils and create an edible landscape at the same time.

Dan and Nicki will discuss what our farms would look like if they were rehydrated, what influence we have as land managers in the amount of water that stays on our farm, and what interventions we can make, from small to large, to increase our influence.

They will cover the principles of rehydrating the landscape as well as showing examples of successful rehydration interventions.

Sign of things to come: Construction of a dam which, together with a system of swales, will rehydrate the landscape.

We will also go for a walk around the farm to see what’s been achieved, the particular issues faced and discuss the next steps. Adon Bender, the farm rehydration adviser, and Mark Anderson, the dam builder, will also be on hand to provide explanations and answer questions.

The workshop will be held on on Saturday, 4 November from 9am to 4pm at Hazelcombe Farm, Totnes Valley (40 mins from Mudgee). Attendance is free for Watershed Landcare members and $10 for non-members. Please wear work clothes and covered footwear and bring hats, sunscreen and drinking water.

For further information or to RSVP contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0435 055 493 or by email: info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.