Monday, 23 January 2012

The National Australian Museum of Weeds

Many tears (OK it is a typo - I meant years - but it really is a good alternative) ago the then President of COG described an area in the Jerrabombera Wetlands (near Fulica hide on Jerrabombera Creek, for those familiar with the area.) as being the proposed site for the Museum of Australian weeds.  That area is still pretty good (or bad), in terms of enabling people from overseas to feel at home with the vegetation, but other parts of the area now match it.

The areas covered in this post, which reports on a visit I made to the area today are highlighted in the following image from Google Earth.
The yellow streak is the originally nominated area, while the red streak is a particularly egregious set of current weed infestations.  The three named areas are basically the spots I went to in order to see a few birds - and in fact I did quite well as explained later.in the post.

First however I will deal with the weeds.

The original area (yellow streak) has been subject to "dry willow removal".  I use the term "dry willow" because all that has been removed are the willows growing on the banks of the Creek: those growing on islands in the middle have been left!  While probably an accidental outcome of the contractors not having a boat, this is possibly not a bad thing as it provides some nesting and roosting sites for birds pending replanting to replace the willows that have been removed.  In the interim the disturbance caused by removig the willows has provided a wonderful area for thistles, mustard weed, and a whole host of other weeds to set up shop.

By opening up the watercourse a lot more light has been let in allowing massive growth of invasive water lilies.  The image also gives an idea of the state of the banks and the willows remaining in the wetter areas.
 Later in my stroll I got to the area marked with a red streak.  This was basically an impenetratble forest of horrible spiky shrubs - possibly Pyracanthus - leavened with a backdrop of 2m (or more) tall Fennel.
This is the top of a bank beside the Silt trap which is itself lined with dense brambles.   Kellys Swamp itself is close to becoming a Typha forest.

All of this is going on in full view of the office of the ACT Department of Environment on Dairy Road.  (The grounds of those offices are themselves interesting in that the have degraded hugely, mainly with an infestation of thistles and very tall grass) since the place ceased to be an agricultural/environmental education facility.) I presume this indicates that the wonderful ACT Government has gutted the budget of that function so they cannot afford to slash the weeds.  Presumably the ACT Greens will workshop this problem and have a solution by about 2025.

Anyhow, enough with the negative vibrations and I realise this is the 5th post - on this blog alone - in which I have used that kvetch.  I recorded 44 species of birds as I wandered around between the various bits of the wetlands.  I could probably have got more had I wandered across the paddocks to the NW. Highlights were:
  • 180 Eurasian Coots in the Sewage ponds;
  • Dependent Young Australasian Grebes and Pacific Black Ducks in the ponds;
  • A good haul of 'small grebes" generally in the ponds.  This image is a Hoary-headed Grebe
  • 11 Black-fronted Dotterel in front of Tadorna hide (effectively the western end of the yellow strip)
  • A Black-shouldered Kite at the Silt Trap (a young bird, doubtless wondering how to get at the mice under all the weeds);
  • a Juvenile Nankeen Night-heron flew across the Wetlands going somewhere; and
  • in the rest of the heron(ish) department White-faced Heron; Great Egret and Australian White ibis were spotted.
  • A group of Superb Fairy-wrens  were in front of the Cygnus hide: not unusual but I thought the image cute enough to include

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