The following photos are examples of how Marrickville Council creates a habitat tree, which is a tree that would normally be removed because it presents a risk to the public or infrastructure. Instead it is modified to remain useful to wildlife.
These were on display in Council’s kiosk at the Marrickville Festival last Sunday. I did not go to the festival, but was fortunate to be shown these exhibits last week.
I found it extremely interesting to be able to look at these hollows & to see close-up just how small the entrance are. It’s one thing to see a photo or read a description & something else entirely to be able to see & touch a real one.
I think it was a great idea for Marrickville Council to create such an exhibit & feel happy that so many in our community got to see & touch these exhibits as I did.
You can read about habitat trees here – http://bit.ly/1034evv
Last week I was fortunate to witness an Inner West WIRES release of a young possum to the urban wild. It was a fascinating experience.
The female possum named ‘Twistie’ is now 12-months-old & was brought into care as an orphan some 9-months ago. After being fed a diet of milk that moved onto fruit & then onto native flora, she was ready to be returned to the area where she was found & given a good start to life outside of care.
The tree was climbed by a man who obviously knew what he was doing, as he used ropes, pulleys & wore safety gear. He scaled the tree & found a suitable place to attach the possum box, which will be Twistie’s home for as long as she wants it. Possums like natural tree hollows, but these are rare in the Inner West.
The opening of the box was faced towards the east, so she sees the morning sun & is protected from southerly winds. How nice is that!
A bucket of fruit will be brought daily for six weeks to help her adjust & ensure that she has enough until she learns to survive on her own. Checking how much of the fruit has been eaten provides information for the WIRES carer, who will come periodically for anything up to six months post-release.
It is unknown whether Twistie will stay in this tree or move into another that she prefers. Inner West WIRES have had great success releasing rescued possums from care, so I don’t doubt Twistie will do well.
Possums are Australian native Australian animals & are protected by law.
Possums are an arboreal herbivorous marsupial & carry their young in a pouch until they are around 4-months old. They are nocturnal & also great pollinators, as they feed on leaves, buds, flowers & fruits. They enjoy exotic plants & love rose petals, herbs & some garden plants.
It is easy to protect what you want untouched, like fruit trees if you have a possum around. You can net trees & plants, especially in the vegetable garden. Apparently possums don’t like certain smells or tastes, so using a range of the following on a regular basis will help save your plants –
- Sprinkling Blood & Bone fertiliser around plants.
- Spraying with commercially available possum deterrents.
- Make your own spray of water mixed with lots crushed garlic and/or fish sauce.
Possums stay in an area of approximately 100-metres in any direction & they need to be returned to the area where they were rescued.
The idea that a possum can be removed from a roof cavity & relocated many kilometers away to start a new life is incorrect. They will die if relocated out of their area. Possums are very territorial. They suffer extreme stress if taken to another location. It is highly likely that other possums will attack them & this will result in death. Possums will also cover great distances attempting to return to their territory, which places them at risk of attack by dogs & by being hit by motor vehicles.
If a possum is in your roof, call in an expert who will set up a one-way gate, which allows the possum to exit at night, but be unable to return to your roof cavity in the morning. They should check to ensure that there are not young possums left in the roof & permanently block access. They will also install a possum box offering a viable alternative to your roof.
Using a trap is not recommended. If caught, the possum panics & will try to escape even though it is causing injury to itself. This can cause ‘trap nose’ – a severe injury sustained while trying to escape.
Even if you take the possum out of the area, another possum will very quickly take its place, so the best thing to do is call in humane experts if one sets up home in your roof. Then install a possum box & enjoy the nocturnal wildlife in your garden – that is if you are lucky enough to see them. We have at least one brushtail possum & one ringtail possum in our immediate neighbourhood. It is rare that anyone sees them, but there is some excitement when they are spotted.
Lastly, WIRES is run by volunteers & relies on donations. They are currently running a Food Fund campaign to help pay for the cost of the thousands of native animals they rescue. Spring & summer are busy months.
$10 will feed a joey for 2-weeks, feed a wombat for 1-week & feed a brushtail possum for 2-months. Donations of $2 & over are tax deductable. To donate & for more information see – http://www.wires.org.au
There is also a FREE WIRES Rescue App available to download for iphone, ipad, Android & tablets. The app gives advice on what to do if you find sick, injured or orphaned wildlife & also allows you to report a native bird / animal / reptile / bat that needs rescuing. For more information see – http://bit.ly/TzDX49
Marrickville Council is holding community consultation about the future of the parklands along the Cooks River. The parks are Mahoney Reserve, Steel Park, Warren Park, Richardson’s Lookout, Cooks River Foreshore Park, Mackey Park, Kendrick Park & Tempe Recreation Reserve.
DATES IN OCTOBER -
- Sunday 19th October 2014 – Feedback about all the riverside parks at Council’s stall at the Marrickville Festival tomorrow.
- Thursday 23rd October 2014 - Feedback about Mahoney Reserve. Meet at the Debbie & Abbey Borgia Centre – 5.30pm-7.30pm.
- Tuesday 28th October 2014 - Feedback about Steel Park. Meet at the Debbie & Abbey Borgia Centre – 5.30pm-7.30pm.
DATES IN NOVEMBER -
- Sunday 1st November 2014 – Feedback about Mahoney Reserve. Meet in the park 8am-12 noon.
- Wednesday 5th November 2014 – Feedback about Warren Park, Richardson’s Lookout & the Cooks River Foreshore Park. Meet at the Debbie & Abbey Borgia Centre 5.30pm-7.30pm
- Sunday 8th November 2014 – Feedback about Steel Park. Meet in the park 8am-12 noon.
- Thursday 13th November 2014 – Feedback about Mackey Park. Meet at Herb Greedy Hall, Petersham Road Marrickville 5pm-7pm.
- Saturday 15th November 2014 – Feedback about Warren Park, Richardson’s Lookout & the Cooks River Foreshore Park. Meet in Warren Park 8am-12 noon.
- Wednesday 19th November 2014 – Feedback about Kendrick Park. Meet at St Peter’s Town Hall, Unwins Bridge Road Sydenham 5pm-7pm.
- Saturday 22nd November 2014 – Feedback about Mackey Park. Meet in the park 8am-12 noon.
- Saturday 29th November 2014 – Feedback about Kendrick Park. Meet in the park 8am-12 noon.
In July 2014 I wrote about the tree management at the Addison Road Centre in Marrickville. See – http://bit.ly/1mjENOK
In that post I mentioned the magnificent Sydney Blue gum at the entrance to the car park, which had been fenced off because it dropped a branch. Creating an exclusion zone around this tree was very important because of the thousands of people who come to the Organic Markets, as well as all the other activities at this bustling centre.
Luck was on my side yesterday, as I had decided to visit the Centre. As soon as I drove into the property I could see major work being done to this tree. I stopped & asked one of the Arborists whether it was being transformed into a ‘habitat tree.’ I was very pleased to hear that this was indeed what was happening.
I was told that the tree does have a disease – silly me forgot to ask the name. He told me that tree was also serving as home to Galahs, Lorikeets & a possum & that these holes were being retained. I have known about the Galahs living here for a couple of years, but not the other wildlife. This is a very important tree in the area, as natural hollows really are as rare as hen’s teeth in Marrickville municipality.
I met the Manager of the Addison Road Centre who said, “We love our trees!” – words I love to hear. It’s obvious that the Addison Road Centre do love their trees because of their recent Tree Inventory & their intention to do annual assessments & tree care. A centre like this always has budget concerns, especially when they have such large usage from the community & have ongoing infrastructure work. More often than not, trees are the least concern, so I thought it wonderful that the Addison Road Centre spent money on their trees & are committed to their ongoing health & longevity.
The Addison Road Centre is a repository of trees, many of them significant & also some veteran trees. The grounds are a very important sanctuary for urban wildlife & some of the species are very special. I often just go for a walk around the grounds simply to relax, look at the trees & listen to the sound of bird song & I have met many others who do the same.
I was also fortunate to speak with Marrickville Council’s Tree Manager & Biodiversity Officer who was on-site to observe the work being done by contracted Arborists. They told me that the tree was to have a number of microbat & bird hollows created in the limbs. These manufactured hollows are often hard to spot from the ground because they look so natural.
Basically, a slice is taken from a branch & set aside. Then the space under the slice is carved out with a chainsaw into the shape of a nice comfy home for a bird or animal. The inside of the hollow is grooved to create footholds & crevices, for sleeping & to allow easy & safe exit. An exit hole is created & these look quite natural. Then the original piece of wood that was sliced off is screwed back onto the tree & there you have it – a manmade hollow. Affordable housing for wildlife.
I was pleased to learn that all the logs created when removing the canopy of this tree will be placed in various garden beds around the Centre. The grassed area around this tree will be transformed into a garden bed, which will further support habitat. It will also add beauty.
The concept of a habitat tree is to create what occurs naturally in trees that are generally 100-years-old or more. Unfortunately, older trees drop limbs as part of their natural behaviour, but in urban areas, this is considered a risk to the safety of people & property.
Until recently, this generally meant that the tree was chopped down, exactly at the time when it was starting to provide the most benefit to wildlife. This move to keep the tree & modify it to increase use by wildlife is a very good thing, especially in areas where biodiversity is struggling or tenuous.
The tree will eventually die, though it may take many years. A dead tree provides enormous benefit to the environment & to al range of wildlife. A range of mammals, amphibians, reptiles & invertebrates may use the tree for shelter & for foraging. Insects, microbes, fungi, mushrooms, beetles, spiders, worms also rely on dead wood.
Logs in garden beds provide many benefits. They act as a ground cover & help prevent soil erosion. They store energy & fix nitrogen. Their process of gradual decay returns nutrients to the soil & aids new plant growth. They also retain moisture & offer a cool & moist place for small mammals & insects. Worms & other insects like these areas, as does fungi & mushrooms & both provide a source of food. I personally think logs look attractive in the garden.
I applaud the Addison Road Centre for choosing this option & for Marrickville Council for working with & supporting them. Every tree that can be retained & modified into a habitat tree is a boon for local wildlife. The more wildlife we have, the more we benefit as a community.
Marrickville Council’s Urban Habitat Mosaic map concentrates on the edges of the municipality, particularly along the Cooks River & the rail lines. The map is pretty sparse in the middle, so the Addison Road Centre is an extremely important resource & refuge for urban wildlife.
I also think this habitat tree will serve as a great opportunity for passive education to the thousands of people who come to the Addison Road Centre every week. Many people think of dead trees & logs as unsightly rubbish to be removed. Learning that both are vital to the healthy functioning of our environment & increase & support biodiversity may mean more dead trees are kept, more habitat trees are created & logs to create areas of habitat are introduced into private gardens. Wouldn’t that be good.
The first ‘Aussie Backyard Bird Count’ is happening this month from Monday 20th to Sunday 26th October 2014.
The event is organized by Birdlife Australia & Birds in Backyards & they want as many people as possible to take part.
All you have to do is spend 20-minutes counting birds in your backyard, school, local park, beach, forest, paddock – wherever you are.
They are very happy for individuals to submit multiple checklists of 20-minutes, so you can count birds at your home & other places in your local area if you wish.
You can either enter your count through the Aussie Backyard Bird Count website at – http://aussiebirdcount.org.au
or via a free app available to download here – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/aussie-bird-count/id917024019?ls=1&mt=8
You do not need to be an expert on birds to take part. A field guide is built into the app to help you identify birds. There is also a list of colloquial names to help you identify birds.
This is an opportunity for all of us, young & old, to get involved in this very important citizen science. Development, loss of green space, trees & forests, as well as a changing climate has an impact on bird life. Birds give an immediate picture of an area’s environmental health & this information can be used to help improve habitat & biodiversity.
Marrickville Council has given notice of their intention to remove a Narrow-leafed Peppermint (Eucalyptus nichollii) opposite 160–164 Livingstone Road Marrickville.
Council gives the following reasons for removal –
- “Tree is causing significant damage to public infrastructure.
- Tree is in a state of decline with extensive internal decay and damage from termites.
- Tree poses a risk to public safety.”
Council says they will replace with a Red Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), but not when they will do this.
Red ash is native to eastern & central North America. This tree is deciduous & has conical upright growth to 15-metres. The dark green leaves turn a deep bronze in autumn. Although hardy, it is not a long-lived tree.
Opposite 160–164 Livingstone Road are Watergums, so I am pretty sure Council is referring to one of the two trees in Stanley Street. The tree to be removed does not have a Notification of Removal sign on it.
The deadline for any submissions is tomorrow, Friday 10th October 2014.
One of the Tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) planted by Marrickville Council in December 2012 was snapped off a couple of months ago. Council has since removed the tree. The original tree was around 10-metres tall & was removed along with another in March 2012 for civil works to upgrade the stormwater system. This demonstrates just how long it can take for the streetscape to return to what it was prior to tree removal.
Council did the right thing by replacing these trees, but the regular cases of vandalism do much to delay the return these objects of beauty to our streets.
This is something I cannot understand. Walk down Calvert Street Marrickville & you will see more street trees snapped off & this is despite Council replacing these trees at least twice. Council also planted advanced sized trees in an attempt to prevent such vandalism, but even this did not deter whoever it is who appears determined to prevent the community enjoying nice green shady trees in Calvert Street. I know some of the residents are very annoyed about this.
I was really happy to see that Marrickville Council has planted a garden as well as a street tree in a traffic island at the corner of Burrows & Hogan Avenue Sydenham.
The island could have been concreted, as it common practice around the municipality. In a past Council Meeting I heard the previous GM say in response to a question from past Councillor Olive that Council does not usually choose to green the middle of the roads where there are traffic islands or median strips because they are concerned for the safety of their staff who may be working in this area.
My belief is that anywhere without concrete is better for lowering the urban heat island effect & better for streetscape beauty, which impacts on the health & happiness of residents.
Burrows Avenue does not have many trees, so I am hoping the new tree is a tall growing species, so it will make more of an impact. Sydenham has lost at least 21 trees of late, as Railcorp chopped down all the trees in the grounds of Sydenham Station Master’s House last year. This is a lot of trees for such a small suburb & any new public trees will be of benefit to both the community & the wildlife.
I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say these bins have been in the Cooks River off Tempe Reserve for at least 3-years, so it was fantastic to see that they had been removed from the water. Not so good for the marine life that have set up residence though.
There was also a stack of bags filled with rubbish, presumably collected by people doing Community Service Orders. Their work in Tempe Reserve has made an enormous & positive difference. I thank them.
Marrickville Council has planted another three trees near the car park in the area that caught fire a couple of summers ago. This was good to see. The other trees planted last planting season are growing well.
Council has done further work on the Cooks River Valley Garden & surrounds. Two whole sweeps of grass have been killed ready for garden beds & tree planting if I remember correctly.
Work has been done to the area around the tap, which gave a number of us cause to celebrate. I hope this assumption is correct because it looks like Council is preparing to add an area where the wild birds can get a drink at the tap & in a way that excess or dirty water will be channeled into the Garden.
It makes sense because this whole area between the picnic kiosks & the Garden will be concreted as part of the upgrade. Dumped barbeque coals are a problem here, despite free gas barbeque facilities. The hot coals are thrown under the tap & therefore pollute the only water source available to wildlife.
It is quite fascinating to see the birds come when the tap is turned on. Of course there are the Ibis, but there are only ten birds that hang around this area of Tempe Reserve. Even in the peak of summer, numbers never go above 21 Ibis. I know because I have been watching & counting them for 4-years now.
Aside from the Ibis coming for a drink, there are Grey Butcher birds, Magpie larks, Crested pigeons, two Magpie families, Galahs & Noisy miners. Sometimes Cockatoos & Little Corellas come for a drink as well. Once I saw a Blue tongue lizard having a drink.
If this is Marrickville Council’s intention, I thank them. Having wildlife in & around the Cooks River Garden is a great thing for the picnickers to see & interact with, especially the children. Most of the birds in this area are not afraid of people. It is common to have a little Magpie lark wandering around your feet looking for any dropped crumbs. This is not something I have experienced before & anywhere else.