Mounding Day(s) at Cockatoo Creek

Just over twelve kilometres of mounds have been created along the western side of Cockatoo Creek. We had some challenges as the mounder needed some repair work. A big thank you to Mark for his excellent machining work – turning rutted parts into smooth operating bliss.

All assembled and ready to go in the SAME  tractor and Jorn swung into action….. after several significant downpours of rain. Steady as we go as Sharon got bogged several times in the Colin’s 4WD ute…. (delivering hot soup for lunch) with her not so well chosen boggy farm track choice not the ute…. Delaying the mounding just a little! It is fascinating to watch the landscape change before your eyes so the dog and I decided to stay a while and check out the progress. oh and take a walk down by the creek – cannot believe how healed and amazing it is today compared to three years when it was s sad and bleak place.

Two long and full days work to work to turn the landscape into the mounds ready for the plants in June. Once planted both sides of Cockatoo will have had a significant amount of regeneration and land given back to nature. The health of the creek has simply skyrocketed since our first regeneration projects three years ago. The beginning of the Tone River has not had it so good in many passing moons. Jezabelle as usual was on the job supervising Jorn to ensure he kept them close and coming!

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Broken…… Quick Trip to Perth

Many people use the fabulous mounder that Forestry Products Commission kindly loan us to use. Not everyone treats it well. Once again the mighty mounder needed a little professional tender loving care. Rather than work in until it broke we decided a trip to city to have the rutted parts made smooth again would be in order.

Mark Evans the exceptional machinist did an amazing job at Micron in Malaga. The old mounder is now smooth and sweet and ready to go. Below is Jorn, Mark in the middle and my wonderful Dad who introduced Jorn to Mark!

We Found the Ripper and Mounder – Waiting…… 

Sometimes I feel as if the song “doing it again” should be our mantra. Here we are three years later  heading out of the farm gate on our way to picking up the same Forestry Products Commission mounder from one of their properties in Moodiarup. With the goddess Jezabelle in the back of truck on the sleep bed we headed out from Bellalee hoping to be able to load it onto the truck. The farm it was located in was some distance from Bellalee thus we did not have any friends nearby that we could call on to assist us.

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However the good old fashioned farm network where one person know another who knows another led us to Rob Hewton. Rob generously said he was happy to help us out luckily for us his dad was visiting from town; they actually took the tractor over to the FPC property and left it there for us.

Jorn’s eyes almost popped out of his head when he spotted the near new John Deere tractor just gleaming waiting for him. He had a great time testing it out and changing all the settings – as Jorn does to any machine he jumps into. It made loading the hefty ripper and mounder a breeze. He was expecting something a little older and not as heavy duty.

With the equipment tied down we headed over to Rob’s property just around the corner (about 3kms away) to see if he was home and to say thanks. Rob generously said he and dad would collect the tractor later. Very handy as I do not have a truck licence, not to mention Colin’s old faithful truck has a few nifty tricks to change the gears.

 

We luckily have time on our side with this project as once again the Ripper and Mounder needs a little tender loving care work done on it. You may recall it broke down several times last outing. With the luxury of time Jorn dismantled the “broken bits” and we shall take it to the city to have a gift of new bearings and a smoothing out of the nicks of usage.

Once again a big shout out to the Collie Foresty Products Commission for the loan of the equipment, to Morton Neilson who located it for us and asked FPC on our behalf and to Rob Hewton for the generous use of his John Deere tractor. Not to mention our neighbour Colin Ednie-Brown for the use of “old faithful” the truck.

We Came Down With The Rain

We decided last Saturday to make a quick 2 day visit to visit Bellalee for a farm tour with one our lease farmers. However the tour did not take place BUT the rain came tumbling down. Whilst for many it meant to loss of dry feed for animals for us it gave an opportunity to fence!

We stayed for five days and finished fencing of a little over 6 kilometres of our 25th ALG project requirements. Due to the rain I was unable to put in many of the photo monitor points as we hid in Jorns van when it was really heavy….. One area – site two – did get marked as on the last morning the rain stopped. Jorn has never been a fan of the rain however the thought of fencing in 40+ heat is also not inspiring.

The photos of this corridor show how we are using these corridors to link vegetation zones with existing projects that are located around Cockatoo Creek and the Tone River.

Whilst we we were we sort to eradicate a rabbit warren using the prescribed means in order to protect the native species of our area.IMG_2510

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.

 

Corridors of Power – 25th ALG

Yes everyone knows don’t they that the real business in done in the corridors, not the main house! Thus it is that we move onto the 25th Landcare Anniversary Grant. This grant allows us to connect our existing regeneration areas together into seamless corridors all heading towards the water systems on the property.

We are simply delighted that we have been afforded the opportunity to work with multiple authorities since we have started our regeneration projects on Bellalee. Once upon a time Jorn passed a comment that Bellalee, down by the river used to look beautiful back in the early 1970’s. Our initial two regeneration projects have fired on all cylinders with an 80% strike rate and plenty of natural regeneration to boost the sites assets. We are very proud to see projects on the Atlas Of Living Australia. With the work we will undertake with the 25th ALG we will connect remnant vegetation from differing parts of the farm and create seamless corridors down to the Creek and River. These corridors will provide regenerated amazing pathways for fauna to be able to move and flora to spill out from down to the river.

We are delighted to have spotted not only the red tailed Black Cockatoo on the property in Kayla’s Woodland (that will be be linked by one of the corridors to the River) but also the rarer white tailed Carnaby’s cockatoo. What a delight to hear them call. They are nesting in the woodland and we are simply delighted that they call Orchid Valley home.

The photo is of Jorn using Christie the superstar star picket rammer and Colin looking for a spot to put a strainer post. This is rocky country and one of the first of the areas to be fenced under the project.

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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.