Southern Highlands Nature News
Bushcare and Citizen Science E-newsletter - Winter 2021
Good news for Platypus, Rakali and Turtles
Eastern Long-necked Turtle in Lake Alexandra by local citizen scientist, Helen.
All closed topped yabby traps (including the opera house and Kulkyne pyramid types) are now banned in all waterways in NSW. The ban came into effect on 30 April 2021, through the Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries.
This is good news for Platypus, Rakali and Turtles. These species are particularly vulnerable to drowning in these types of yabby traps.
NSW DPI Fisheries Fact Sheet
Eastern Long-necked Turtle
How many can you see on this log? Photo provided by Helen.
Eastern Long-necked Turtles (Chelodina longicollis) are found in or near water bodies such as lakes, dams, creeks or rivers.
Nesting occurs in the late spring and early summer (October – January) and up to three clutches containing between 6 and 23 eggs (average of 14) are laid (Vestjens 1969; Parmenter 1976, 1985; Chessman 1978; Legler 1985; Georges, unpubl. data). Eggs are white, hard-shelled and ellipsoid in shape, about 20 mm wide and 30 mm long and weigh 6–7 g.
Females may travel up to 500 m or more from water to preferred nesting sites on a crest or ridge at the top of a slope and will nest in a variety of substrates from soft sand to hard clay or even gravel roads.
Once the eggs have been laid the female pushes earth back into the hole with her rear feet and tamps it down by raising herself on her legs above the nest and dropping abruptly to compact the earth.
Eggs in nests that escape predation take between 110 and 150 days to complete incubation and hatchlings emerge in autumn, usually after rain has softened the ground (Parmenter 1985; Vestjens 1969).
The terms turtle and tortoise are often used interchangeably and can cause some confusion. In the past, all freshwater turtles were called tortoises and marine turtles were called turtles. The more recent convention has been to restrict the term 'tortoise' to the purely land-dwelling species. As such, Australia has no tortoises. (Source: Australian Museum)
New Tech for Weed Control
Wingecarribee Council is promoting new and innovative weed spraying technology.
Council’s Biosecurity team are at the forefront in identifying and trialling new technology such as drones to spray weed in sensitive areas.
Council organised a weed spraying operation on Crown Land near Headlam Road in Moss Vale along the sensitive environment of Kelly’s Creek. Approximately 4.5km of creek line (1 hectare) of blackberry was sprayed. An outstanding result of over 90% of the blackberry sprayed was killed with one pass of the drone.
Benefits of drone spraying compared to more conventional methods include:
As drones continue to improve the ability to detect weeds using new technologies such as this in different scenarios can being developed.
Know Your Water Weeds
Water weeds like water hyacinth, frogbit and salvinia are illegal to trade and devastating to our environment. These plants grow at a rapid rate, block waterways, reduce water quality and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to control. They restrict livestock, birds and other native animals’ access to water, reduce food and shelter for fish and native animals and prevent native water plants from growing. They also impact community amenity by ruining opportunity for recreational activities like boating, fishing and swimming.
Most of the illegal trade in water weeds occurs online. If you see these plants for sale online please help us protect our waterways by reporting it to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
More information can be found at:
Bushcare and Rivercare Updates
Bushcare Team Activities
The new off-road vehicle in action at Indigo Creek Bushcare Project Site. Photo courtesy of Lizzie Bennetts.
Some Bushcare and Rivercare working bees have been hampered by recent inclement weather with sites experiencing wet soggy conditions. The rains have seen a proliferation of annual and short-lived perennials emerge.
In addition to supporting the Bushcare and Rivercare working bees, the Bushcare team have been busy with projects including controlling Gorse in Welby Weir Reserve, a beautiful reserve forming part of the Greater Mount Alexandra Reserve.
A new off-road vehicle, a side-by-side Polaris, will be used by the Bushcare Team at sites with difficult or steep access, primarily for moving equipment and materials on and off site and for the removal of green waste, particularly Berberis at the Indigo Creek Bushcare Project site at Exeter.
The team planted Tradescantia (Wandering Trad) infected with a fungus into bushland as part of a CSIRO bio-control program. The primary aim of this project is to facilitate the broadscale release in NSW of the leaf-smut fungus Kordyana brasiliensis, a biological control agent that specifically attacks the environmental weed wandering Trad (Tradescantia fluminensis). The project is co-funded by CSIRO and the New South Wales Government through the Environmental Trust between July 2020 and June 2023.
The team continue to assist with Land for Wildlife ecological assessments, helping private landowners within the shire to take steps to conserve the natural features and habitats on their properties.
Lizzie Bennetts supported the launch of the beautiful new field guide Robertson Rainforest: A guide to the trees, shrubs, vines and ferns of the Yarrawa Brush at Robertson and gave away 60 rainforest plants to interested and prospective Land for Wildlife property owners.
The Community Nursery is helping out the SOS Glossies in the Mist project by caring for Allocasuarina littoralis tubestock until it is ready for collection by the project team.
Spaces are freeing up at the Community Nursery Working bees, but confirmed bookings prior to the day are still essential via email to the Bushcare Team.
Jen Slattery is taking 6 months extended leave from 1 July. We wish Jen all the best for her well-earned break.
WSC Biodiversity Monitoring Strategy
The Wingecarribee Shire Council Biodiversity Monitoring Strategy 2021-2031 (the strategy) is currently being drafted to outline what Council and citizen scientists will monitor and why and how to prioritise monitoring effort and guide investment for the next ten years. Some iconic species such as Koalas and Platypus will have more intensive and regular monitoring. Ecological restoration sites will be monitored to measure change and progress towards ecological recovery and resilience.
The strategy will link to national biodiversity goals such as Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2019-2030 (see diagram below) and local strategies including the WSC Environment and Climate Change Strategy (2021-2031) (in development) and the Community Strategic Plan 2031+.
Connecting people with nature will be a key objective of the strategy. With data collection tools such as NatureMapr and other apps, citizen scientists will be able make a significant contribution to biodiversity monitoring.
Citizen Science Update
Southern Highlands NSW Nature Map
Pterostylis grandiflora photo from NatureMapr by Terry Dunlea.
Wingecarribee and Wollondilly Shire Council’s have committed to another year of supporting the Southern Highlands NSW NatureMapr platform for the benefit of biodiversity monitoring by citizen scientists and the community. A snapshot for the Southern Highlands NSW Map from 8/6/21 includes:
There are currently 250 unconfirmed sightings, so if you are an expert in any of the taxonomic categories in NatureMapr please consider becoming a moderator to help identify plants, animals, insects or fungi.
For more information about how to get involved and add sightings visit the Southern Highlands NSW or Council’s citizen science web page.
Get your hands dirty weeding weekend - Greater Sydney Landcare (19-20 June 2021). More information and to register
Whole Farm Planning Workshop - South East Local Land Services
Day 1: Thursday, 10 June 2021; Day 2: Thursday, 15 July 2021
Time: 9:30am – 3:30pm (both days)
Location: Mittagong (further details to be provided upon registration)
For information contact: Michelle Borland ph 4824 1918
Click here to register
If you have any stories or events that you would like to contribute or promote for the Spring issue, please get in touch with the Natural Resources Team at Wingecarribee Shire Council on 4868 0888 or via email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
before the end of August 2021.