Planet Ark 15

Baranduda Landcare celebrated 15 years of Planet Ark national tree day events with a fabulous event on Sunday July 27. On a cold and foggy July morning (we wouldnt have wanted it any other way) over 70 people from our community came together to complete another piece in the jigsaw that will become Wodonga Retained Environment Network – a magnificent reserve linking the Baranduda Range to the Middle Creek and Kiewa River. Check out the wonderful photos by Glen Johnson on our Facebook site here.planetark15

Weeds and Grasses Field Day May 3 2014


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8 people participated in the final of three workshops conducted by Sue Brunskill for Baranduda Landcare

On a cold and wintery day in early May the Baranduda community centre was a great venue for this event. We were able to make short sorties into the bush to supplement what we learnt in class. Thanks to Sue for conducting a great series of workshops attended by a broad cross section of the community.

Click on the link below for more photos of this event


Scarlet Robin – Winter Dawn

They’re back!  scarlet-robinScarlet Robins are one of three ‘red’ breasted robins that seasonally inhabit Baranduda.

Scarlet’s are the most common (that I encounter).  Like all the ‘red’ breasted robins, it’s the adult males that exhibit the showy ‘red’ (in this case scarlet) colouration.  Scarlet males are characterised by having a prominent white forehead spot – the most noticeable (largest) of the red robins with a white, top of bill spot on their forehead. But it’s the beautiful warbling ‘sh-sh-sha-weeya’ call that is usually the first giveaway that Scarlet’s are once again in our area.  Scarlet’s like the Flame Robin are autumn-winter altitudinal migrants that move down out of the mountains in the cooler months to frequent our open pastures and wooded hills.  A sign of winter dawning!

By the way the other ‘red’ breasted robin in our neck of the woods is the very infrequently encountered Red-capped Robin.  But that’s not all – there’s a chance that you may even see Rose or Pink Robin in forested sections of the Baranduda Range – but they too are a very rare proposition for Baranduda.

Yet, fortunately, one of my favourite species – the beautiful inquisitive Eastern Yellow Robin – can be a relatively common species in larger native gardens adjoining remnant bush in our area.   Keep an eye and ear out for Robins in your patch!

Tasmanian Christmas Bush

While walking around Baranduda roadsides at the moment you may catch a delightful aroma of the Tassie xmas bush in flower – sweet bursaria or bursaria spinosa. This is one of my favorite local plants. Its a haven for insects and small birds and so plays a crucial role in local ecology.

Sweet bursaria in flower on the Yackandandah roadside Dec 24 2013

I only just discovered that you buy Tassie Xmas bush honey from Beechworth honey would have made a great Christmas present.. if I hadnt left my shopping so late. Havent even got time to drive to Beechworth!

Nov 23 Swainsona sericea update

On Nov 23 in the late arvo Johno and I went up the range via Burgess Lane off Boyes road for the annual collection of pods from the known swainsona sericea plants (about 24)

The road had been graded and there was a bit of confusion about where we normally park – we ended up parking about 100 metres from our normal location – a stroke of luck as it turned out

We checked all plants on the north side of the road that had flowered in late September and pods were scarce – some pods still immature were collected anyway and kept moist so they have a chance to mature.

Pods found outside the mesh guard

Swainsona sericea greenish pods maturation in water

Despite the meagre collection of pods we were satisfied thats all we could do and headed back to the car. Nearly back at the road and we started to take an interest in some flora on the north side of the road on steep ground close to the car. Eagle eyed Johno spotted a small swainsona sericea and elated we searched some more and I found another one. We gps’d and recorded data and it was getting late and we decided to call it quits.

Just as we were at the car Johno suggested we have a quick look on the south (high) side of the road that had been burnt in autumn 2012 – to our amazement we found another patch dubbed Site 10 of plants with pods as well as a number of individual plants. We collected 50 pods and recorded locations – not all data has been finalised yet but this find just about doubles the number of known plants. And most significantly it reassures us that the fuel reduction burn planned next autumn is likely to deliver more positive outcomes for this plant we have been monitoring for the last 6 years.

Site 10 habitat post autumn 2012 burn view above road.

Site 10.1 habitat view to road edge

Site 10.5_seed pod s prior to collection.jpg

Yack roadside burnoff revisited

Another fuel reduction burn on the Yack roadside between Jamison Drive and the Kiewa Valley Highway is scheduled for this sunday dec 1 – its 22 months since previous burnoff which resulted in a massive regrowth of exotic grasses and a slow but steady recovery of native flora which is about to be halted. Development of Baranduda has come at a huge cost to this 2km section of high conservation roadside. Its value in ecological terms has diminished immensely since I moved to Baranduda in Dec 1980. What will it look like in another 30 years?

We have failed to protect the biodiversity of this special 2km stretch of roadside remnant vegetation

Is it already too late to protect the biodiversity of this special 2km stretch of roadside remnant vegetation?

You can view more photos of the post Jan 29 2012 burn off here

Fuel reduction strategy

On Sunday 24th November Johno and I drove up the Trig Point track from Burgess Lane access from Boyes Road to Baranduda Regional Park. A fuel reduction burn had taken place in autumn 2012 on the high (southern) side of the track leaving the low (northern) side of the track unburnt.

View of Trig Point track Baranduda Regional Park

View of Trig Point track Baranduda Regional Park

On the ground the difference in vegetation was pronounced

High side of Trig Point Track burnt in autumn 2012

Low side of Trig Point track - unburnt

Low side of Trig Point track – unburnt

It looks as if the burn off on the high side has resulted in more vigorous wallaby grass regrowth and flowering – and its tempting to conclude therefore making the fire risk worse. But the real purpose of the fuel reduction burn is to minimise the likelihood of a fire wicking up the loose and highly flammable bark on stringybark and to a lesser extent box trees potentially leading to a crown fire – upon examination of the blackened tree trunks in the photo below it would appear that this outcome has been achieved.

Fuel reduced eucalypt trees

Fuel reduced eucalypt trees

But the real purpose of the trip was to collect seed pods from the silky swainsona sericea plants we have been monitoring over the last 5 years. More about the outcome of that in the next blog entry.

Lace Monitor, Baranduda Range

Magnificent lace monitors Baranduda Range

Magnificent lace monitors Baranduda Range

Tony (Marsh) and I encountered these Lace Monitors while on our way into the Baranduda Range on a trip to collect seed from the threatened Swainsona sericea population.Lace Monitors are Australia’s second largest lizard and can grow up to 2m.  They are exceptional tree climbers and are generally found in larger wooded remnants particularly those containing older hollow bearing trees – both dead and alive and standing and fallen.  Hollows are particularly important as they provide day and night refuge (protection and rest spots) as well as nest and roost sites for prey.

Lace monitors enjoying the late afternoon sun

Lace monitors enjoying the late afternoon sun

They feed on a wide variety of vertebrates (including fish and rabbit), birds eggs and carrion (dead carcasses).  They nest by excavating a cavity in active termite mounds where they lay 8-12 eggs.  Termites repair the mound to seal in the eggs and in so doing provide a temperature regulated (insulated) and relatively protected environment – albeit one regularly subject to red fox predation.