We have some beautiful beetles here, and some that annoy me by eating trees that I would like to have survive, but I’d never paid much attention to the little black beetles that crawl around on the ground.
Then in March we had a visit from Kip Will from UC Berkeley who was interested in carabid ground beetles. (Not rabid, as I thought when he first said it.) To check out what we have, we set up pit traps (plastic beer cups buried in the dirt) at various locations in the Box Gum woodland, helped by Fabian and Martta.
Our lovely neighbour Cathy Campbell has a new project. It’s called “Managing Mange in the Mullion” (that’s the title of the Facebook group also) and involves counting wombats, working out how many of them are affected by sarcoptic mange and treating them using “burrow flaps” that deliver a dose of medicine automatically at the entry to their underground lairs. Continue reading
diamond firetail finch photo by Chris Tzaros
This year the grand finale of our tree linkage project was not even on our own land. To complete the 3.9 kilometres (2.4 miles) of small plots that will allow birds like diamond firetails (stagonopleura guttata) and speckled warblers (chthonicola sagittata) to move around the landscape, we planted a larger area at the edge of the Dog Trap Road. A paddock that actually belongs to our neighbour Suzanne.
Nick and Nick’s Patch aka K2C Exclosure 4
Last autumn we planted up five mini enclosures to provide protection for small native birds and to re-establish a corridor from the Mullion Creek down to the Murrumbidgee River. It turned out to be a great way to get a lot of connection done without a massive amount of time spent planting.
At the time I was glad to see a lot of native speargrasses and scattered clumps of native bluebells (wahlenbergias) among the introduced grasses and weeds.
WHAT WE PLANTED
The numbers in brackets show how many of the enclosures include that species.
I’m really happy to have this list as I sometimes lose track of what I planted, and it’s a long hike uphill to check. In the heat of the moment I also sometimes make some odd choices. Putting river bottlebrushes on the top of a ridge, for example.
After we were done planting, Rainer Rehwinkel and Lesley Peden from the Kosciuszko to Coast Foundation came out and paced back and forward in each little area recording all the plants they saw. It was early in the season, so many of them were very tiny.
I looked up and made links on the names for many of the plants that interested me or I didn’t know well. I chose sites that had good information if I could, including the Atlas of Living Australia. There wasn’t one site that covered everything well. Some were fascinating, such as EattheWeeds.com Continue reading
Once upon a time, a scientist was interested in the physiology and adaptability of Australian snowgums.
The official name of snowgums is eucalyptus pauciflora because they have only a few flowers (not because their flowers are crummy). In the mountains they’re known for their twisted shapes and striped trunks. They’re the highest tree that grows in the Australian Snowy Mountains.
In 1972 Professor Ralph Slatyer, later Australia’s first Chief Scientist, experimented with planting them even higher up than they would normally live, and successfully grew them at 2100 metres above sea level (that’s 6890 feet in the old imperial measures). In the process he discovered all sorts of things about how plants get water and nutrients under difficult conditions.
Forty years later, Professor Justin Borevitz led a team of researchers back to those same snowgums to collect seeds. You can see what they saw in his nifty EveryTrail report.
From those seeds they grew a number of seedlings of which they gave us three to plant at Esdale. Each tree came with a number and a record of their distant parent. Continue reading