Birdlife Australia at Bellalee

Gratitude to Tegan from Birdlife Australia who took time out of her busy schedule to visit us this morning here at Bellalee. Tegan spent several hours with us investigating sites on the farm where we have seen the Forest Red Tailed and Carnaby’s Cockatoo’s. We spent some delightful time wandering through remnant vegetation that has ben fenced for our many regeneration projects here at Bellalee. IMG_2422

We now know how to check hollows to see if anyone is home and have had a lesson of “which cockatoo is this” by checking the markings on nuts they enjoy for feed on.

Western Australia is the only place in the world we you can see Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo. They were once numerous across the Wheatbelt and Great Southern area which is where we are. The species has been in decline since the 1950’s and in some place have become extinct. Did you know that they mate for life?

We are lucky as we have the main species of Black Cockatoo all cruising around here locally. We see this as an added dimension to the regeneration work we are doing here at Bellalee. Mark you diary – April 3rd, 2016 and look out for workshops on how you can contribute to helping these beautiful birds.

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Great Koji Cocky Count

It is magic having black-cockatoos on our property! Next years Great Cocky Count is scheduled for Sunday, 3rd April 2016. Are we on board, Birdlife Australia  would love to set up some count sites in the Kojonup – Orchid Valley – Tonebridge area, so as April approaches, we are asking you all to please do keep an eye one where you see the birds going to roost in the evening and let Birdlife Australia know, and they’ll set it up as a registered site. Information is available at http://www.birdlife.org.au or email Birdlife Australia at tegan.douglas@birdlife.org.au – Tegan is the Cockies in Crisis Project Manager.

Birdlife Australia are trying to expand the count for next year to include all three species of black-cocky found in the southwest – and around Orchid Valley you have the potential to get Baudin’s, Carnaby’s and Forest Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo – so please spread the word and keep your eyes out!

Because it is possible to get all three species in our area, it is going to be really interesting to know what trees the birds are breeding in (are they competing with each other or do they use slightly different hollow types? – and are they managing to raise chicks successfully?). We are looking forward to Tegan from Birdlife Australia coming out to Bellalee to run a check out some of the trees in your remnant vegetation, and see what’s going on.  She will show us the way we survey for breeding birds, and they have a tree hollow camera we can use to look into any occupied hollows we find!

If you’re interested in coming on board let us know! These photos of three Forest Red-tailed cockatoos were taken a few weeks back whilst we were fencing Kayla’s Woodland a recent Southern Dirt Project at the farm.

 

Lay Down Sally Strikes Again…

IMG_2348 IMG_2341Who could forget that fateful day of rowing in the women’s Aussie 8, way out front and a certain gold medal then one crew member……. lays down. Well one of our strainers and struts must have been channeling Sally because she failed to strut her stuff and did the same thing out in Kayla’s Woodland. Here we are a mere week and a bit since we signed of on the project and a section of fence is laying down because the strainer failed to stay uptight, errr upright.  The area is governed by sheet rock just below the surface so the usual depths you would put in a strainer post are simply not possible.

Colin and Jorn quickly swung into action. Colin with the big front end loader and Jorn on the tractor with the post rammer along with chains and a handy length of wire all raced out to help Sally the Strainer post back in the boat so to speak to strain away for another day. The boys had a fabulous time engaging the services of an old faithful piece of timber – you will see from the pictures she was once a mighty big tree in her hey day. The tree was moved into position, wired up and entwined with the strainer post and viola the race was won with Sally back upright in the boat.

Colin and Jorn had a great time as you can see, I came along late so sadly no photographs of lay down Sally however you can see the remedial action taken to remedy the situation.

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Southern Dirt Sign Off

Southern Dirt Sign OffA big thank you to Southern Dirt, Kojonup who have supported us in our regeneration work here at Bellalee. With their assistance we able to put away some remnant vegetation that contains a diverse range of flora and an abundance of beautiful jarrah. Without the sheep it will prosper. In this and an adjacent woodland we have noted both the red tailed and rarer white tailed Carnaby cockatoos nesting. This has added greatly to the importance of the overall aims of the work we are doing. 

Once again we are indebted to our neighbour Colin Ednie Brown who has helped us with both the physical work and the use of his equipment. We are very privileged as we lease the farm, live and work mostly in the city of Perth and come down to play. Both of us are ardent environmentalists and happy to give back land to improve biodiversity in Orchid Valley and beyond. Okay fencing is tough going, especially this time as it is in a rocky ridge however it is very satisfying knowing that the area is now protected. We each have businesses in Perth with fabulous staff who keep everything going in our absences, the best of both worlds! 

Red Tailed Cockatoos Nesting and Resting

Spotted three Red Tailed Black Cockatoos up on Kayla’s Ridge September 9th at 8:40am. Three were spotted roosting high in the tree and one was in a tree opposite. This photo takenunknownat 8:56 sees two red tailed Cockatoos together high in the tree.The rarer endangered Carnaby Cockatoo has also been spotted – we just didn’t have the camera out quick enough! However our neighbours report seeing both varieties on a fairly regular basis. It seems Orchid Valley is a favoured haunt by them.

The Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo is classified as Endangered. This may surprise some people, as the species occurs over quite a wide area of south-western Western Australia, where they may rather conspicuous, scockatoosometimes congregating into relatively large flocks. However, their population has declined greatly in recent decades, mostly due to the loss and fragmentation of their preferred habitats, and they need the support of conservation programs to ensure their survival.

We are hoping our integrated connected regeneration projects will be a haven not only for cockatoos but many other native fauna as well.

The Window Opened, Strainer Posts IN

just ring, please….. Yes that intuitive sense kicked in and I felt there was a window of opportunity for us be able to use an amazing Post Rammer belonging to the gentle Kim Sanders, one of our local fencing contractors.

Timing was crazy, we had adjust arrived back from our holiday up north to the Pilbara and Jorn was re packed and headed down to Bellalee.

We have now managed to ram in the strainer posts and set our photo monitoring sites. I like to use strainer posts to make it easier for me.

All going well we will run the wire soon, then call Kayla to come and take a look at the finished project.

  Looking East Photo Monitoring Point 1
  Looking West Photo Monitoring Point 1    Looking East Photo Monitoring Point 2
    Looking West Photo Monitoring Point 2
      Looking East Photo Monitoring Point 1
   Looking West Photo Monitoring Point 2

Happy birthday dear p and p

Projects and plants of course! Yes our first two projects are about to turn two. As we cast our eyes across the fields and walk among the rows of happy plants we estimate we have around an 80% success rate. On top of this an abundance of flooded gums have come through as well as quite a few other native species. There is evidence of native fauna taking refuge.

We cannot have imagined how these projects would breath life into the entire farm. All along the banks of the creek and river are looking lusher, denser, happier for being fenced away from the sheep. Look how it has all changed in these few photos from two year ago to now. No blog is complete with a photo of the dog. She is sound asleep on the couch after a long day supervising us.

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Our plant babies

Our plant babies

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IMG_2062IMG_2055Jorn and Jezza 2093

Bridal Creeper and South African Reed given their exit orders

IMG_1095Six months ago we added Bridal Creeper to the list of weeds to eradicate/control at the farm. Kayla Ringrose from Southern Dirt was a fabulous teacher on the various ways to control Bridal Creeper. Six months later I walked through the areas we are targeting to check out the progress. (Keep in mind here this is a seven year programme!). Along the creek line luckily there was only one small patch, however not so lucky in other areas. Once again of I went, spray pack on my back on a murderous spree with the prescribed dosage of weed killer for the problem. Delighted to see very little re-growth after the long summer. Kayla stressed diligence was needed! The Bridal creeper here is in one of the areas soon to be fenced under our 25th Anniversary Landcare agreement.

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Spiny Rush is in an increasing problem in the local area. It can be found along drainage lines and low lying areas. Spiny Rush favours areas where its tolerance to salt allows it to out compete other plants and dominate. Choking waterways and providing harbour for foxes and rabbits, we have been working to control spiny rush before it can form into dense infestations. It can be easily confused with native rushes however once you get you eye it in it is easy to spot. Yes I spent a few days mattock in hand digging up spiny rush, section by section.

Like the Bridal Creeper this is a long term project to rid Bellalee of the invading pest!