Category Archives: Events

The Secret Life of Mistletoe

The Secret Life of Mistletoe – a presentation on Thursday 21 November at Newstead Community Centre, 8pm … All welcome (A gold coin donation would be appreciated)

David M. Watson is Professor of Ecology at Charles Sturt University and an international expert of mistletoes. In addition to the ecology of parasitic plants, his research focuses on large-scale connectivity conservation and developing innovative approaches to biodiversity monitoring and measuring ecosystem health.

Newstead Landcare Group is delighted that Prof. Watson is coming to Newstead to present a talk on this enigmatic group of plants. Lacking roots, depending on other plants for their survival and relying on animals for dispersal, mistletoes have inspired a range of beliefs throughout the world. Some people regard them as magical, endowed with special powers; others as destructive weeds that devalue native habitats. In his talk David will review two decades of his research on these plants and share his emerging view of these plants as beautiful native wildflowers that support wildlife and boost productivity.

Prof. Watson will have copies of his book for sale at the event, “Mistletoes of Southern Australia” published by CSIRO. It is the definitive illustrated guide to all 47 species of mistletoe found in southern Australia. This new edition consolidates current knowledge about the natural history, distribution, biology, ecology and management of mistletoes in one convenient source. Illustrated with beautiful paintings as well as photographs of mistletoes and the animals that depend on them.

Eastern Spinebill on Box Mistletoe, photographed by Prof. David Watson

Amyema linophylla (Buloke Mistletoe) photographed by Prof David Watson.

Renowned author Tim Low to speak in Newstead

Connecting Country and Newstead Landcare Group are delighted to host a presentation by well-known author, biologist and thinker, Tim Low. The event is open to the community as part of Connecting Country’s program to engage people about our local plants and animals, and how to restore our local landscapes as habitat native species.

Tim will speak about his book ‘The New Nature’ and will raise some interesting questions about the way we interact with nature and our perceptions of the environment. Although controversial when the book was first published in 2002, the book was recently updated, and its themes are now more relevant than ever. Following Tim’s presentation there will be an opportunity for questions and answers, followed by tea, coffee and some sweet treats.

Connecting Country’s Director, Frances Howe, said ‘I find Tim Low one of the most interesting and progressive science writers in the country and it will be a pleasure to co-host the evening with Newstead Landcare. No doubt Tim’s presentation will challenge some of the conventional science of biodiversity conservation and natural resource management, and generate discussion about future revegetation and land management in our region’.

Event details

What: Tim Low talk on his book ‘The New Nature’
When: 7.30 pm on Friday 6 September 2019
Where: Newstead Community Centre, Lyons St (Pyrenees Hwy) Newstead, VIC

The event is open to the community and bookings are not required. A gold coin donation will help cover costs.

This event is supported by funding from the North Central Catchment Management Authority and Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests. It forms part of Connecting Country’s ‘Prickly plants for wildlife’ project. This project is helping local landholders to re-establish the missing understorey plants that provide essential protection from predators, food and nesting habitat for small birds and mammals.

Tim Low

Tim Low is a biologist and best-selling author of seven books about nature and conservation. ‘Where Song Began’ won several prizes, including the Australian Book Industry Award for best general non-fiction. It was praised in the New York Review of Books and recommended by Scientific American. ‘The New Nature’ was praised by Time magazine and listed by Who magazine as one of the books of the year. ‘Feral Future’ inspired the formation of a conservation group, the Invasive Species Council. Tim’s articles have appeared in Australian Geographic, The Weekend Australian Magazine, The Guardian and many other places. He works partly as an environmental consultant, and has a lizard named after him. He recently returned from a visit to Manchuria as a guest of the China Writer’s Association.

Macrophotography and invertebrates at Castlemaine Field Naturalists

Praying Mantis nymph

Praying Mantis

I am very excited to have been asked to do a presentation on macrophotography and invertebrates for the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club this Friday, July 12th. I’ll be talking about the challenges of photographing small inverterbrates in our bush and about some of the things I’ve discovered about our local insects and arachnids through taking photos of them.

The meeting starts at 7.30pm at the Uniting Church hall in Lyttleton St, Castlemaine.

Myrmecia pyriformis

Myrmecia pyriformis

Talking summer in winter … perfect timing

In early March this year, a call went out to Newsteadians to come and join a discussion about our experience of living through drier, hotter summers like the one we had just and how we might manage future ones. “Talking Summer” was an informal gathering providing a forum for people to talk about their fears and ideas for living well in a changed climate. This meeting gave birth to two exciting actions;

Firstly, a submission for the Victorian Government’s Community Climate Change Adaptation fund (3CA) lead by Janet Barker and Kate Tucker on behalf of the Newstead community. In short the grant submission outlines a community-led ‘treescape’ initiative to purchase and plant at least 100 advanced trees to provide cooler and greener canopy for our communal areas around town supported by education, neighbourhood engagement and local expertise. We will not hear back about this results of the grant submission until end of July.

Our beautiful elms may have almost ‘run their race’ … what might we plant in their place and reprise the wisdom of our elders?

Secondly, an offer by Sandon local Ross Uebergang, a Swinburne University Lecture of Landscape Design, for his students to research and design a township treescape plan for Newstead with the aim of giving us more shade and cooler zones around our most active precincts. Their work includes research on Newstead’s historical context, contemporary usage patterns, horticultural and urban landscape best practices.

We are pleased to advise that Swinburne Landscape Design students have completed their class assignment to design a township plan for a cooler, greener Newstead. Hooray!

Now, we would like to invite you come to listen and learn about the fruits of their labour on our behalf. We see the students work as one input, and not the final say on how we might design an improved ‘climate ready treescape’ for the Newstead of 2050 to help us maintain our liveability and mobility in the face of future climate change. We are excited to see how they envisage a cohesive and functional solution for Newstead.

A planted Red Ironbark in Canrobert Street – our current streetscapes are a great mix of native and exotic trees … perhaps a blueprint for the future?

So come along to this interactive session and enjoy the best thinking from these enthusiastic and informed young professionals.

When and where: 1pm -2.30pm, Sunday June 23rd @ the Mechanics Hall, 9 Lyons Street. Newstead light lunch and cuppas provided.

Any queries feel free to contact Kate Tucker (kate@inhereconsulting.com.au) … also RSVP for catering purposes via an email or 0409 996 561.

The Plane tree outside the Old Newstead Courthouse … it has shown increasing signs of stress over recent summers.

Remnant Yellow Gums … they are tough, look terrific and wonderful for wildlife. Looking after these will be just as important as planting new ones.

In a different light … an exhibition by David Oldfield

In a Different Light – Australian Native Flower Photographs in Ultraviolet Light … an exhibition by David Oldfield

Why would you want to take such photos in the first place? This sounds like the question “Why would you want to climb Mount Everest?” The answer is not the one given by British mountaineer George Mallory – “Because it’s there” but probably more “Because nobody else is doing that for Australian flowers”.

David Oldfield was bitten by the photo bug while at school in England long before digital cameras were available and learnt all about the wonders of darkroom work. These days you can get digital cameras modified by specialist companies so that you can take photos invisible to human eyes. There is a small band of photographers around the world who enjoy seeing what happens when you use cameras far beyond what they were designed to do.

Many flowers have dark patterns on their petals which are visible under Ultraviolet (UV) light but invisible to the naked human eye. Scientific studies of honeybee vision have shown that their eyes are sensitive to UV, blue and green light. It appears that the dark patterns visible in UV may assist pollinating insects, such as honeybees, to find the nectar or pollen on the flowers. Overseas UV photographers have reported the existence of dark “bulls-eye” patterns on yellow petals in their images.

David has found that Australian flowers show similar patterns, as you will see if you visit his exhibition at the Newstead Arts Hub between 1st and 23rd June, open every Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. It will also be open on Queens Birthday Monday 11th June.

The official opening will be Saturday 1st of June at 2pm. All welcome!

Cyanicula caerulea (Blue Caladenia)
13 September 2015 at Fence Track, Newstead

Cyanicula caerulea (Blue Caladenia)
13 September 2015 at Fence Track, Newstead

Near and far

Chris Tzaros and I have just completed another set of bird photography workshops (#29 & #30), with a great group of participants – some local, others from as far afield as Canberra, Adelaide and Newcastle. It was terrific to spend time with keen and experienced folks … birders and photographers, in the bush around Newstead.

A highlight for all was this active Yellow-tufted Honeyeater nest in the Rise and Shine. Two well-grown nestlings were being fed with lerp and insects at regular intervals by the adults.

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater with lerp, Rise and Shine, 6th April 2019

II

One of the nestlings

Adult at the nest – both nestlings visible

Easter Heath Check

from Ivan Carter @ Connecting Country

BirdLife International has designated hundreds of areas of conservation importance around the world known as Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA).  In the Mount Alexander Shire, we are part of one of these KBA’s – the Bendigo Box Ironbark area.  Our part of the KBA has been designated especially for the Diamond Firetail and Swift Parrot, and covers both public and private land.

Spotted late yesterday in the Clydesdale KBA … a Diamond Firetail

BirdLife Australia is looking for people in each of the Key Biodiversity Areas to complete an “Easter health check” for their local area. Connecting Country will be holding a workshop at the Newstead Community Centre Mechanics Hall on Friday 12 April 2019.  We’ve invited Greg Turner from BirdLife Victoria to take us through the process for our part of the Bendigo Box Ironbark area. Geoff Nevill from the Muckleford Forest Friends Group will also talk about their groups work in the region.

This annual check is about assessing habitat and its threats so anyone with an interest in landscape restoration would be most welcome.

For those who may not know, our regions three ‘Key Biodiversity Areas’ (KBAs) in Mt Alexander Shire are: Clydesdale-Strangways : Sandon-Strathlea : Muckleford-Newstead. For more information on the KBA and the Easter Health check process click here.

Volunteers Eleanor and Jenny surveying the Muckleford KBA. Source: Connecting Country

Please come along to this workshop to learn how you can participate in the Easter Health Check for our KBAs:
1. Learn about the KBA’s in the Mount Alexander Shire
2. Find out about KBA Easter Health Check – what it is and how to do it
3. Meet other people working with KBAs
Where: Newstead Community Centre Mechanics Hall, 9 Lyons St, Newstead
When: Friday 12 April 2019: 9.00 to 11.30 am
This is a free event, with morning tea and refreshments provided. To book for this event, please click here.