FOGGs AGM

19 November 2016

We had a good attendance at our AGM. Reports were presented by the president (see separate article) and the treasurer again thanking Ron Goudy for auditing our books and our bank balance at the end of June 2016 being $8,615.89.

Election of office bearers see this year’s committee as:

  • President: Rodney Thompson
  • Vice President: Leigh Gunn
  • Secretary: Wendy Bedggood
  • Treasurer: Mabel Brouwer
  • Committee Members: Margo Sietsma, Ben Gunn, Janbert Brower and Judith Thompson
  • Newsletter Editor: Margo Sietsma
  • Webmaster: Frank van der Peet

We continued with a general meeting and ideas for next years activities were; an Insect day, (as this year’s was unable to go ahead), a reptile day, Clam Shrimps with Brian Tims, a bat event possibly jointly with a landcare group, and  several people expressed an interest in Grasses and having a day on them. Good walks are always popular though no specific suggestions were given.

It was decided we should get name badges for members, as it makes it easier for visitors and new members and also helps identify us as a group when we are doing our activities such as ‘Clean up Australia day”.

It was proposed that we get a new FOGGs sign that is more lightweight and portable than our current one.

There is currently no book on Grampians Flora available for sale and there may be an opportunity to reprint Ian McCann’s ‘The Grampians in Flower’.

After a picnic lunch and social chit chat we looked at the most recent maps of the proposed route then set off from Borough huts camp ground towards Mt Rosea. The original plan was to look at the start of the new track which will lead from Borough huts up to Mount William, unfortunately rain had washed away the crossing over the creek so instead we went in the opposite direction. We did see the new bridge over the creek at the beginning of the walk and this award winning design will be used for all the bridges on the Grampians Peaks Trail Walk.

The day was starting to get a bit warm so we only walked for an hour and a half up the gently sloping track before turning and coming back down.

There were some wildflowers out notably Chocolate Lily and Cinnamon Bells (a saprophytic orchid), Hakea, Slender Candles, Everlasting daisy, Hibertia and Pink Bells. Some South African Weed Orchid was also found in one spot along the track and plants were removed.

Stawell Field Naturalists Films

11 December 2016

As we reported in June and September we have been using three RMIT students to document the work of the Stawell Field Naturalists and, in particular, the legacy of Ian McCann. The students worked on the documents preserved by the Stawell Historical Society and filmed interviews with long time members and people who had worked with them. So in December we invited them to present their work.

After a chapter of accidents, amusing in hindsight but tense at the time, the quite large audience managed to look at two films: one on the Field Naturalists generally, and one on Ian McCann. The students had struggled somewhat with such a wet year and some recording issues, but the films were well received, particularly the Ian McCann one. There is still more footage which we hope can be edited into another film or two. Plus there are some very valuable observations on plant lists etc over the years in the notebooks, which it would be good to make more accessible.

There has been enormous interest in the project, and after the summer break we plan to get them up on the internet in a couple of places, as well as showing them again locally. And maybe we can make use of a new set of students for future projects. Good for us here, and good for them.

Ian McCann Legacy Poster -> downloadable pdf

Victoria Valley Excursion – August 13

Not that many of us but a successful day nonetheless.

Our first stop was at the lovely Burrong Falls off Rose Creek Road, which was new to some of us. It was a bit muddy and slippery to go right down to the creek, but we enjoyed the view, and the winter flowers. We then headed down towards the valley, stopping to admire fungi and orchids, to Round Swamp, which was more a lagoon than a swamp. Then off to Red Gum walk where we were met by ranger Kyle. We did the walk, clearing it of fallen branches, and noting how slow and patchy the recovery from the 2006 fires has been. No young banksias, no cherry ballart.

Wild Flower Walkabout in the Northern Grampians – September 10th

Rodney

On a bright but chilly morning 25 questing souls gathered in Wartook to look at wildflowers. We were joined by several first time attendees who saw facebook and website promotion, or heard the radio add. (They enjoyed themselves so much I ran out of membership forms!). After last season’s dry September we were worried about finding much to look at but nature was very obliging this year. I guess a wetter season is a big help to the plant life. Our biggest concern leading up to the day was the grazing macropods that see flowers as candy. But they left us some to admire. Those who attended had a great time, and saw some great flowers. With many eyes many things can be spotted and people danced from one treasure to another with great delight.

I was very pleased to convince Dave and Lyn Munro to come along for this activity. They have great passion for orchids and fungi, along with many other plants too. Having the knowledge to match that enthusiasm is very helpful in a large group. Lots of calls of “Dave can you help us with this one?” were heard echoing through the trees. And I know they enjoyed their time in the bush with other likeminded people as much as we enjoyed having them.

Dave was also to be interviewed for the Stawell Field Nats documentary project, so we had a small film crew following us everywhere. Dave commented that he didnt think he had much to share with the camera, but the minute it was rolling Dave’s educator mode kicked in. Scientific name, common name, background or definition to the nomenclature, and then a bit of general knowledge on the use of a plant, or a little anecdote about when someone first saw it. The girls were delighted with this. We figured that as they were running around with a notepad we would dob them in to keep a plantlist too. That opened their eyes. They were even delighted to film a group with their heads together and books open haggling over an identification. It showed just how much time and research goes into accruing the knowledge some of or members share. That is important to document too. Knowledge is hard won.

We identified more than 30 different species, five of them orchids. (There were three different varieties of Greenhood orchids). Some specimens were very impressive. We also found at least 5 different fungi too.

The Spiral Sun Orchids (Thelymitra matthewsii) didn’t grace us with an open bloom but that’s the nature of viewing a plant whose flower may only open for an hour or two. But Kaye’s eagle eyes did spot something special nearby. A Kennedia prostrata, or running postman in a white form. It is probably a mutation rather than a new species, but it was something no one had seen before. We christened it Running Milkman!

After a convivial lunch together some headed for home and a smaller group wandered along another stretch of road to see what else we could find. The Grampians Trigger Plants were located but none were in flower this early in the season and we were all a bit overawed so the day ended there.

I include a plant list that only covers those in flower or fruit (fungi).

Running Postman  & running Milman Kennedia prostrata,Common beard-heath Leucopogon virgatus,  Erect Guinea-flower/Bundled Guinea-flower/Silky Guinea-flower  Hibbertia riparia/prostrata/sericea, Pink bells Tetratheca ciliata, Leafless Bitter-pea Daviesia brevifolia, Bent Goodenia Goodenia geniculata, Horny Cone-bush Isopogon ceratophyllus, Cat’s Claws Grevillea alpina, Purple Coral-pea Hardenbergia violacea, Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha, Myrtle Wattle Acacia myrtifolia, Sallow Wattle Acacia longafolia, Thyme Spurge Phyllanthus hirtellus, Yellow Star Hyooxis vaginata, Early Nancy Wurmbea dioica, Blue Stars Chamaescilla corymbosa, Round-leafed Mint-bush Prostanthera rotundifolia.

Orchids Spiral Sun Orchids Thelymitra matthewsii, Plain-lipped Spider-orchid Caladenia clavigera, Waxlips Glossodia major, Trim/Nodding/Emerald lipped Greenhoods Pterostylis concinna/nutans/smaragdyna

Fungi. Yellow Belly Buttons Omphalina chromacea, Horse dung Fungus Pisolithus tinctorius, Splitgill Schizophyllum commune, Stereum sp., Laccaria sp.

Parks Victoria Bioblitz Sept 24 & 25

In the last newsletter we reproduced an article from Parkwatch about how two new portable technologies – the digital camera and the smart phone – have changed the way in which volunteers can collect data in the field. This was very evident when FOGG helped with a Junior Ranger activity during the school holidays. Youngsters were encouraged to take photos of interesting things they had seen when out in the park and to upload them to a website inaturalist.org. We didn’t have a huge uptake, but we hope that we demonstrated that we are interested in inspiring the next generation.

Meeting at Parks Office with Parks Representatives – 24/06/16

Rod Thompson

On the last Friday in June 2016, FOGG’s members had their annual catch up with Park Management. It was attended by 8 members and 3 rangers, Dave Roberts, Tammy and Ryan.

We were given a basic rundown of the structure of the management of the park, consisting of 2 teams. A park management team which includes Tammy, Ryan, Mark who have all been involved with FOGGs and our activities over the course of the last year. The park team has a total of 14 people under Dave himself. This is complemented by a Fire Management team of 13 staff. The two teams try to work together to manage various impacts, but have to diverge in some areas too. Caity will most likely be continuing in her position as the volunteer coordinator. This is 97% sure but Conservation Volunteers Australia need funding to match Parks Vic. who have funding locked in. The park and the Halls Gap office could easily use 3 or 4 Caity’s (volunteer coordinators).

The discussions went on to cover topics such as fire management and recovery, resourcing of the park and funding of staff.

We had the opportunity to raise topics that concerned us as well as hearing about the things that Dave wanted to inform us of.

These topics included,

  • Funding,
  • Fire management, and trialling of new regimes of control and fuel reduction.
  • Disaster recovery, after all our park has been hammered in recent years.
  • Peaks trail planning and construction, there is only 18 months left to spend the funding that has been set out.
  • Helicopter  flights were raised by the group, but the response from Dave indicated it was more an issue for community patience than environment at this stage as impacts appear to be minimal due to regulations imposed. Hopefully they stick to planning requirements and it’s not a big issue, only the same level of concern as B-double trucks, motorcycles or noisy school groups.
  • Phytothera (cinnamon fungu) impacts were raised by another member of the group. It was noted that water dispersal could be a concern with a wetter season setting in, after many years of dry, but not an increasing issue as impacts have not been noticed yet. Anything off track is high risk for contamination, and if working in areas known to be impacted hygiene is essential.
  • Rock Wallaby reintroduction programs,
  • Sallow Wattle control and eradication.
  • Options for seats or signage at Zumsteins with the funding we have available. With plans afoot to do other works on cottages etc, we can contribute, but delayed until it can be combined with those plans. Anything we contribute needs to fit with the current standards, whether it be signage, or a seat. It was suggested that we could also  put that contribution towards the Wartook/Zumsteins trail. A heavy hardwood or even a stone seat could be done with the use or parks equipment.
  • Signs to discourage stone cairn construction by visitors. It is possible these signs might even cause a resurgence in something they believe is declining.

In other news shared with us, Mark Whyte has just returned from the International Rangers Conference. Its an asset to our park having someone like Mark, young and enthusiastic about the future, especially after the conference that has brought him in contact with staff from parks management world wide. Those of you who have met Mark know what I mean

The new CEO of Parks Victoria is passionate about conservation and scientific studies, using knowledge and evidence to determine the future of National Parks in our state. He has been to the Grampians  three times since appointment (6 months), which bodes well for our park and the support it needs from the seat of decision making at head office.

We finished off the evening with a convivial meal at the hotel chatting about the topics discussed with the staff, and others of our own choosing.

Geology Day in May

 

Wendy Bedggood

Nearly thirty turned up to the Mural room to hear Dr Ross Cayley give a presentation titled ‘Geology of the Grampians – A 400 million year plus history and why geology has worldwide implications.’P

The Grampians Geology has been studied in detail over the past 15 plus years by using many new technologies allowing a more accurate picture of how it was formed. The area was mapped chemically and physically and using ‘total intensity and residual magnetic mapping’ a picture of the underground rock formations was created. The chemical mapping and physical mapping came up with the same pictures.  Some of the detailed studies on small scale have been extrapolated to the large scale giving a picture of the Grampians and surrounding areas and even what was happening on the rest of the continent. Mapping the Geology of the Grampians even has broarder implications. The fact the Grampians formation can be read from the surface informs on the formation of mountains and landscapes all over the world.

About 450 million years ago older mountains were eroded and formed the layers of sand forming the Grampians sandstone. Movement under the earth’s crust caused many induction zones leading to tilting and uplifting, but these were not simple geological actions as explained in text books. They were more complex actions with collisions and blockages explaining how layers have ended up where they are today. After the layering of sand and folding and faulting, the Grampians ranges were intruded by hot molten rock (magma) which cooled and crystallised to form the granite dyke rocks in the Victoria Valley, and at Mafeking and Wartook. Careful measurement of the radioactive decay of certain elements in these granites tell geologists that they were intruded around 400 million years ago.

At the end of the presentation most of us drove to the Mt William car park where we car pooled and headed through the gate and up to the very top. Here we found a sheltered spot out of the wind and enjoyed our picnic lunch in the sun and with a magnificent view.

Find the Fault 20160514_141707

The sausage shape on the rock was made by an underwater creature 410 million years ago, as it foraged for food on the bottom of the water body and passed the sand out behind it.
The sausage shape on the rock was made by an underwater creature 410 million years ago, as it foraged for food on the bottom of the water body and passed the sand out behind it.
20160514_140730

We looked at some formations in sandstone which were made by an underwater creature 410 million years ago, as it foraged for food on the bottom of the water body and passed the sand out behind it. Back at the Mt William car park we looked at a landslide which had occurred hundreds or thousands of years ago, landslides have occurred frequently and been a major contributor to the shaping of the Grampians. Next we drove along Silver Band rd and stopped to look at more road cuttings exposing mudstone as well as some of the more recent landslides which occurred in 2011. The landslides exposed many cliffs and on one of these we could see a fault line which probably formed millions of years ago but is typical of faults which occurred throughout the Grampians forming the mountain range. From here we all headed home in our different directions with our heads spinning at the incredible talk and sites we had just experienced.

Ross Cayley et al published a paper in Nature last year and it has some modelled videos of the complex movements in the induction zone and the effects of collisions and blocking. Worth a watch.  http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v508/n7495/full/nature13033.html#videos

Bird Observing in the Grampians

JanBert Brouwer

The joint outing with the Birdlife Horsham branch on Sunday July 3rd started with a bleak weather outlook following rain and low lying clouds. Not something that is likely to make the birds put on an active show. However a large-turn out of bird observers often means many keen eyes to detect birdlife.

The Birdlife group always prepares their trips very thoroughly with a reconnaissance visit preceding the outing to find interesting birds. Tim Mintern and Ian Morgan had recently sighted emu wrens near the air strip in the western part of the park but these birds proved to be too elusive for this outing. However the Scarlet Robin put on a splendid display there and was a real highlight. It was surprising that even water birds were very scarce on the Moora Moora Reservoir.

Hennie and Bill Neve hosted us for our lunch break at their home in Wartook. A wonderful warm environment on this wintery day for some lively social interaction that is such an important  part of both clubs.

All in all, the group managed to sight 53 different bird species that day although I must admit that my tally was way down as usual. A remarkably high number for these weather conditions. A few notable examples were also close encounters with the White-Throated and the Brown Tree Creepers, the Restless Flycatcher, Spotted and Striated Pardalotes, and several different Thornbills (Brown, Buff-rumped, Yellow and Yellow-rumped)  with a final appearance of the Eastern Spinebill.

Photo Point Mapping of Sallow Wattle

Last year  FOGGs volunteered to keep a pictorial record of Sallow Wattle at 20-30 spots in the Park. We would mark each spot with a star picket and it would be a matter of going back to the same spot twice a year and taking a photo at a time that suits the individual volunteer. It has been a slow start but we now have the map with the spots to be monitored and enough volunteers to spread the load.  The actual photo work is about to start on this long term project.

Update On The Orchid Conservation Program

Our contractors have erected a locked fence to keep grazing animals away from the highly endangered orchid  Caladenia audasii —(or McIvor Spider-orchid, Audas Spider-orchid) in the Stawell Ironbarks Forest, and there is a remote camera to deter any human predators. The team will keep a close eye on it and when (if?) it flowers it will be crosspollinated from the other surviving colony near Bendigo and eventually more plants can be grown at Cranbourne then released back into the wild.