Monday, 28 July 2014

National Tree Day

Two National Tree Day (NTD) plantings were held at Gurranba Reserve this year. On Schools NTD 400 native grasses were planted to create a boundary buffer to the foreshore bushland. At the community NTD, 154 low growing habitat haven and food supply plants were planted for the Squirrel Gliders and small birds underneath the mature Eucalyptus in the mulched ‘islands’.
Over the two NTD events there were 120 planting people, including 107 Coal Point Public School students and supporters. A total of 266 hours was volunteered and 554 plants were watered, planted, watered and mulched.  
The tubestock that was planted included Kangaroo Grass-Themeda triandra, Hairpin Banksia Banksia spinulosa, Blue Flax Lily-Dianella caeurlea, Conesticks-Petrophile pulchella and Prickly Moses-Acacia ulicifolia  
Sincere thanks to everyone who gave of themselves for the greater good.  
Grevillea sericea

If you didn’t get to plant you can still enjoy the local flora. A wander along the West Ridge will show many shrubs that are starting to flower including the Black Sheoak- Allocasuarina littoralis, Sydney Golden Wattle-Acacia longifolia and Grevillea sericea. At ground level, the terrestrial orchid, Pixie Caps-Acianthus fornicatus is appearing in dense patches.

Greater Toronto Spring Fair

The Toronto Chamber of Commerce is looking for motivated businesses to participate in the Spring Fair promoting the Greater Toronto area as the destination for shopping, dining, leisure and services. 
With a Buy Smart, Shop Local message, displays and stalls will be grouped in interest areas such as Sports & Watersports, Health & Wellness, Homemaker, Clubs & Communities Groups, Arts & Crafts, Home Entertainments. There will be lots to see and do as well with areas for Active and Interactive Kids, Classicars, Entertainment and a Fashion parade. 
Contact the Chamber on 1300 488 356 or email for more information. Stalls are $75 or $65 for Chamber members.

Putting their best foot forward

Local Oxfam Trail Walkers are pledging to raise at least $1400/team by walking 100km from the Hawkesbury to the Harbour over the weekend of 22-24 August. The Carey Bay Crawlers including (Mark and Leanne Shields) and the four teams from the Renee Schofield Personal Training rainbow Blue, Orange, Pink and Purple will be putting their best feet forward again and again and again for this worthwhile cause. If you’d like to donate to support these local pedestrians visit the Oxfam Trailwalker website and make a donation.
Oxfam Trailwalker in Australia has raised more than $49 million since 1999. Oxfam is determined to change the world by mobilising the power of people against poverty.

Through the support of the Trailwalker teams, Oxfam funds are used to work with families and communities promoting education, ensuring access to clean water, teaching skills to grow food and fighting for their rights.

Congratulations Mikali

Congratulations to Mikali Anagnostis who has accepted the Asparagus Fern challenge. Equipped with his own gyprock knife and trained in the Asparagus fern crowning removal technique, he’s aiming to join up his efforts with that of the landcarers in the adjacent Burnage Reserve.
Landcare can provide support for students who want to undertake Duke of Edinburgh Awards contact Robyn Gill for more information.

Securing a future for the local Squirrel Gliders

The TSLS project aims to provide suitable habitat for the local Threatened Species, of which the Squirrel Glider is one.

Squirrel Gliders are hollow-dependent, they need tree hollows…or nest boxes to survive. In order to give them the best chance of survival around Coal Point the TSLS project is coordinating a mass installation of nest boxes on September 6th to celebrate Threatened Species Day in conjunction with Lake Macquarie Landcare’s Super Saturday Session.

The Toronto Men’s Shed has developed a prototype nestbox and will be going into production over the next month. 

Do you want a nestbox on your block? 
Please contact Suzanne (Committee contact) with your location details.

A trial of the location and installation process will be conducted as part of the Hunter Region Landcare’s Network meeting on August 9th at noon at Progress Hall.

Once the nest boxes are up they will be monitored each season to see if they are being used. This is an easy and cost effective way to determine the size and extent of the local Squirrel Glider population. It will make it possible to monitor individuals and hopefully track their movements. If you’re interested in being a part of the scientific monitoring of this local population, as part of your studies or for interest, please get in touch, it’s a great opportunity to contribute to a local project.

The recent spotlighting expedition was a wild and windy night in which the Squirrel Gliders were absent but the more robust Ringtail (4) and Brushtail (5) possums were about in the canopy.

Woo Who

The Draft Interim Large Forest Owl Planning and Management Guidelines has been released by LMCC for comment.  It discusses why the Powerful Owl, Masked Owl, Sooty Owl and Barking Owl are all listed as threatened (Vulnerable) species. 

“All species continue to be threatened by clearing of forest and woodland for agriculture, urban development, major infrastructure, mining, pine plantations and intensive harvesting practices for wood production in native forests (Kavanagh, 2002).
In particular, these species are susceptible to the felling of old growth forest and woodland as they and their prey are dependent on large hollow bearing trees (Kavanagh, 2002).”

The guidelines are packed full of amazing pictures and maps and puts in to context why corridors and landscape connectivity are so important for the survival of these amazing birds.

What birds are about?

Tom Clarke recently conducted a winter bird survey along Coal Point. Highlights of this visit were the discoveries of mixed foraging flocks moving through the shrub layer at the Carey Bay and West Ridge Central sites. At Carey Bay the flock consisted of Grey Fantail, four Yellow Thornbill (they love the casuarinas), Eastern Spinebill and three Golden Whistlers. This is the second winter record of mixed foraging flocks at this site so Carey Bay is showing some consistency in this regard. At West Ridge Central the flock was dominated by Silvereyes but also included three Golden Whistlers, Grey Fantail and three Brown Thornbills.

Another highlight was the discovery of a pair of Spotted Pardalote carrying out nest-building activities on West Ridge. These birds were stripping the fibre from a nearby Stringybark and carrying the nest materials to a burrow hidden beneath the base of a fallen tree. Given that nesting for these birds is usually in spring we are left wondering what may have triggered this behaviour.

Tom’s full report can be read online Birds of Coal Point Winter Survey.

There was more excitement in the world of birds… the Pacific Baza was about.

Below is an extract from a message from Liz Crawford dated Wednesday 16th July;
Nine Pacific Baza flew along the Coal Point ridge today, stopping to forage with wing-spread plunges into eucalypt foliage. Amongst the detailed information in HANZAB (Handbook of Australian, New Zealand & Antarctic Birds), there are notes that Bazas are
  • "regular in gardens and orchards in urban areas, mainly in winter."
  • "Wintering groups of 10-12 birds also noted in SE Queensland."
  • "Hunt co-operatively , in pairs or groups of up to ten."
  • "In eastern Australia, some birds appear to disperse during non-breeding season: in NSW recorded to 34-350S in winter, 330S in summer."

We have seen 2 and 3 Pacific Bazas flying past our house in the last couple of weeks, but today's big group was exceptional - although, as noted by HANZAB, such groups have been seen before!

Another Coal Point local, Rod Mackay spotted spotted a small flock (about 6) of Pacific Bazas on top of a large gum tree here at Skye Pt Rd. They flew off to the north just as I was hooking my camera up…A new tick is a great way to start a cold July day!

Image credit

Did you see them?

Following is a description from Birds in Backyards
The Pacific Baza is a medium-sized, long-tailed hawk with a prominent crest. It is slim-bodied, with a narrow head and neck. The wings are paddle-shaped, well-rounded and deeply 'fingered'. The head, neck and breast are grey and the underparts are white with bold dark banding. The legs are short with weak toes.
The Pacific Baza's favourite prey is large insects, particularly stick insects and mantids, and frogs. They sometimes eat fruit as well. Bazas will move through the canopy, or perch and watch, then make short dives, with feet extended, to snatch prey from the foliage or from the air.

DA's in Play

What’s happening at Laycock St Carey Bay?

From what can be gleaned from the DA tracking website it appears that the developer has been repeatedly requested to provide an Arborist report and address the concerns of Council as to how the retention of vegetation on the south-western boundary can be addressed to retain a corridor that can be of use for Squirrel Gliders. Council required the information by 4/7/14.
On the 3/7/14 after meeting with LMCC Officers the developer requested a further extension to address the issues by having a 3rd party
  • review the initial ecological report submitted with the DA
  • assess the ecological significance of the site in particular the remnant trees on the site for foraging or den trees for the Squirrel Glider and
  • assess he role and importance of the site in contributing to the “Rehabilitation Corridor.

And what’s happening at Excelsior Pde…

Sixteen community responses were lodged.
LMCC has requested
  • Three adaptable units are required in accordance with DCP 1:10 ratio…the position of these units would be suited to the front of the development to enable residents to access public transport more readily.
  • Development controls indicated that for multi-housing developments over twenty dwellings, a full crime risk assessment is required.

DA Tracking

The following list of various development applications is compiled for community awareness as a snapshot of local activity. Please consult LMCC’s application tracking website for a complete listing and more details.

  • Lodged: 43 Grant Road 
Description: Swimming Pool Certificate of Compliance
  • Awaiting DA Determination: 7 Robey Crescent 
Description: Foreshore Development - Jetty, Boatshed, Slipway/Ramp & Removal of Existing Jetty
  • Awaiting Information requested: 120 Skye Point Road 
Description: Retaining Wall - Swimming Pool and Associated Safety Barriers
  • Awaiting Information Requested: 70 Coal Point Rd 
Description: Alteration / Additions
  • Awaiting Information Requested: 20 Laycock St
Description: 24 Multiple Dwellings
  • Council Assessment: 91 Excelsior Parade Description: 1 into 2 Lot Subdivsion
  • Under Assessment: 151 Excelsior Parade
Description: Multiple Dwelling Housing - 23 Units
  • Approved: 223 Skye Point Road 
Description: Dwelling House & Retaining Wall - Amendment to Bushfire rating
  • Approved: 41 Skye Point Road 
Description: Shed, Deck & Retaining Wall
  • Approved: 83 Skye Point Road 
Description: 1 into 2 Lot Subdivision
  • Approved: 215 Coal Point Road 
Description: Dwelling House alterations and additions; Demolition of structures
  • Approved: 350 Skye Point Road 
Description: Workshop and Carport

Friday, 4 July 2014

What goes bump, scrabble scratch in the night?

Can you tell at 15 paces, in the dark, what local animal is peering at your from the treetops? 

Dr Chris McLean can and he’s offered to guide some local untrained eyes to peer into the night and discover the presence of our nocturnal neighbours. The early darkening winter nights and the blossoming of winter flowering gums make this an ideal time for spotlighting.

Dr McLean is an arboreal animal specialist, which means he knows the animals that live in the trees and is very good and identifying them from a glimmer of eyeshine or a chatter in the distance.

A family friendly spotlighting expedition is planned for Saturday dusk, 19th July from 5.30pm-7pm to explore the local bushland and identify the night-time animals in our bigger backyard.

RSVP by 18/7/14 is essential to provide the meeting place and confirm the numbers. Contact Suzanne Pritchard on 0438 596 741or by email to 

National Tree Day at Gurranba Reserve

Preparations for National Tree Day are well underway at Gurranba Reserve with the solarising sheets of plastic secured against the elements. Stray sticks were used to spread the stress of the pegging process. With four weeks to go until the planting event it will be interesting to see the effect of this non-chemical treatment of weeds.

A pile of mulch will be arriving at the reserve in the week before the planting. A thick layer of mulch will be spread after the planting to suppress and control the weeds in the new planting of Themeda grasses.

Themeda Grass growing at Gurranba
Coal Point Public School students will be undertaking the major planting of the native grasses on Friday 25th July between 12:30 and 1:30pm. Parents are welcome to attend.

The community event on Sunday 27th July between 10am-noon will complete the planting and mulch the site. Refreshments will be provided. All are welcome, BYO buckets, mulch-forks and wheelbarrow.

Stray sticks were used to
help spread the stress on the plastic
and prevent them lifting
in the wind (again)
If you have any questions about the National Tree Day planting process at Gurranba Reserve please contact Jason Harvey ant the Landcare Resource Centre on 4921 0392.
The plastic sheets help
trap the heat and kill the weeds

Strategies for a Changing Economy- Survive and Thrive

On Sunday 29th June 200 people packed into the hall of Cardiff North Primary school to hear Nicole Foss and David Holmgren talk from their permaculture perspectives on what they see as the impending societal changes that will result from a sharp and rapid contraction in the economy, triggering a period similar to the Great Depression.

They discussed the shift required in community relationships needed to buffer against an “Energy Descent’, a time when resource shortages impact on every level of society. They described how rebooting our dormant household and community non-monetary economies are the best hedges that ordinary citizens can make along with getting out of debt, downsizing and making significant purchases such as long lasting useful items like tools or agricultural land. 

Building trust and connections within the community was touted as a way of being able to respond quickly to changing conditions and having a strong network of support already established would put some communities in a stronger position to react quickly if needed…early adopters of permaculture principles would be well placed to be able to surf the period of change. 

Building community connections and local resilience to economic and energy ‘shocks’ are some of the underlying premises of the Sustainable Neighbourhood philosophy. 
The next meeting of the Toronto Area Sustainable Neighbourhood group is July 9th 5-6.30pm in the meeting room at the Toronto Library, all are welcome, the future may very well be what we make it…it is worth thinking about.

David Holmgren…How you can change the world with permaculture

Nicole Foss on Finance and Bubbles

An excerpt from Nicole Foss’ talk Facing the Future- Mitigating a Liquidity Crunch is provided here for your contemplation.

Despite the media talking up optimism and recovery, people are not seeing the supposed good news playing out in their own lives. As we have discussed here many times before, the squeeze continues on Main Street, while QE has generated asset bubbles at the top of the financial food chain. Complacency reigns, but this is the endgame. Increasingly delusional collective optimism, based on illusory wealth for the few, has ben the driving force for 2013, even as the smart money has been selling everything not nailed down for most of the year – cheerfully handing the empty bag to a public that demands it. It’s been a five year long party, where, demonstrably, no lessons were learned from the excesses preceding the previous peak, and the consequences that followed from it.

Now, as a result of throwing caution to the wind again (mostly with other people’s money of course), we face another set of consequences, but this time the hangover will be worse. Timely warnings are rarely credible, as they contradict the prevailing wisdom of the time, but it is exactly at this time that warnings are most needed – when we are collectively irrationally exuberant on a grand scale. We need to understand the situation we are facing, in order to see why this period of global excess will resolve itself as a global credit implosion, what this means for ourselves and our societies, and what we can hope to do about it, both in terms of preparing in advance and mitigating the impact once we are confronted with a new, sobering, reality.

We are facing an acute liquidity crunch, not the warning shot across the bow that was the financial crisis of 2008/2009, but a full-blown implosion of the house of cards that is the global credit pyramid. Not that it’s likely to disappear all at once, but over the next few years, credit will undergo a relentless contraction, punctuated by periods of both rapid collapse and sharp counter-trend rallies, in a period of exceptionally high volatility. The primary impact will stem from the collapse of the money supply, the vast majority of which is credit – a mountain of IOUs constituting the virtual wealth of the world.

This has happened before, albeit not on this scale. Since humanity reached civilizational scale we have lived through cycles of expansion and contraction. We tend to associate these with the rise and fall of empire, but they typically have a monetary component and often involve a credit boom. Bust follows boom as the credit ponzi scheme collapses. Mark Twain commented on one such episode in 1873:
“Beautiful credit! The foundation of modern society. Who shall say that this is not the golden age of mutual trust, of unlimited reliance upon human promises? That is a peculiar condition of society which enables a whole nation to instantly recognize point and meaning in the familiar newspaper anecdote, which puts into the mouth of the speculator in lands and mines this remark: — ”I wasn’t worth a cent two years ago, and now I owe two million dollars.””

Few recognized at the time that the ensuing financial panic of 1873, at the culmination of a period of speculative excess, was going to lead to a long and grinding depression. The signs were there, as they are today, but few connected the dots in advance and understood what was about to unfold and why. Few ever do at comparable points in time.

Unfortunately, humans are not good at remembering, let alone learning from, and applying, the lessons of history. The information is available for those who care to look – far more information than people had access to at previous junctures – but not in the mainstream media. The media’s role is to reflect and amplify the mood of the time, spinning events in accordance with it in a self-reinforcing feedback loop. Real information – the kind we need if we are to face a future more challenging than anything most of us have ever experienced – is found elsewhere, with independent voices contradicting received wisdom when it most needs to be contradicted. That has been our task at The Automatic Earth for the last six years. We cover the events of the day, placing them in the context of the bigger picture we have developed since January 2008.

We (The Automatic Earth) aim to make complexity comprehensible, so that people can identify the most immediate and most significant threats and prepare themselves to face them. At the present time, the threat people most need to appreciate is a liquidity crunch, hence this is a major focus of our most recent Video Download release – Facing the Future. It is well underway in some parts of the world already and many more countries will find themselves affected in the not too