Here it is.  It blends in with the other close trees, which is optimal for wildlife.

Here it is. It blends in with the other close trees, which is optimal for wildlife.

Last December I posted about two new habitat trees in Mackey Park Marrickville next to the Cooks River.  See – http://bit.ly/2lvRKKn

The Inner West Council said they had created three new habitat trees, but I was unable to find the third tree.  Well I found it.  It is one of the poplars close to the Rowers Club on the river side of the shared pathway.

I hope Council plants at least three new trees in this park to make up for the canopy loss of the others.  There is room.

And the flying foxes put on a wonderful show

And the flying foxes put on a wonderful show

The Wolli Creek Preservation Society is holding their annual ‘Bat Watch’ Picnic again.  It is a great evening outing to have a picnic, then watch the Grey-headed flying foxes head out in search of food.  Personally I think it is a beautiful sight.

DATE:            Friday 10th March 2017

TIME:             6.30pm – 8.30pm.  There will be ‘batty crafts’ for the kids from 6.30pm.

ADDRESS:   Turrella Reserve, Earlwood.

BRING:          You, your family & friends, food & drink, something to sit on & insect repellent because the mosquitoes can be bad.

Screenshot from video taken by Simon Dilosa

Screenshot from video taken by Simon Dilosa

Very exciting to see a video of a shark swimming up the Alexandra Canal at Mascot yesterday.    Apparently, it headed back to the Cooks River, which is a good thing because the water is awfully shallow where it was.

You can watch the video taken by Simon Dilosa here –

https://www.facebook.com/dorsalaus/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

Looking left along Gilbert's Garden

Looking left along Gilbert’s Garden

Looking right along Gilbert's Garden

Looking right along Gilbert’s Garden

A couple of weeks ago we were cycling around the area.  Waiting for a break in the traffic at the corner of Beach & Wardell Roads Dulwich Hill, I looked across & saw people working in what appeared to be a community garden in Gilbert Barry Reserve.  A quick agreement between us & off we went to say hello.  The people there gave us a lovely welcome & confirmed that this was a community garden.   We chatted & were shown around their garden, which to my eyes was a lovely thing.

The Gilbert Barry Reserve was a poorly used & uninviting space until the Inner West Council  gave it an overhaul finishing work around July 2016.  The concept plan shows they were to remove 6 trees, plant 5 new trees & add three native garden beds.

The logs from trees removed are now lying around the far garden bed providing habitat for ground creatures.   I like that Council is doing this as a norm these days, instead of feeding every tree through the wood-chipper.

Rotting logs are a part of the natural ecosystem.   Dead wood not only continues to hold carbon, it also continues to be useful to the environment.   The process of decay adds nutrients into the soil helping to grow fungi & moss amongst other plants.  Small insects & slugs & worms love this environment.  Most of us as children have picked up a log & watched the tiny creatures run from the light. I like to think of them as ‘hotels for insects & other creatures.’  Sandstone blocks have been scattered around the garden beds & these too offer a cool moist habitat for little creatures.

A picnic table setting & two other park benches have been installed.  The benches are attractive & do not have a barrier in the middle of the bench to stop people lying down, which was great to see.  I do not like defensive architecture & unfortunately, it is creeping into our locality.

A water fountain was in the plans, but I do not remember seeing one.  I think it will be the first water fountain in the old Marrickville LGA.  I think it would be wonderful for all parks to have a fountain to provide water for birds, as well as beauty for people.  You can’t have great biodiversity without access to drinking water.

Apparently, a newly planted tree in the centre of the reserve died & is yet to be replaced.

Along the back fence of the reserve a community garden has been formed.  A decent sized stretch of land has been set aside for this & lined by sandstone.  ‘Gilbert’s Garden’ was formed around 9-months ago by a group of local residents.  They have a range of vegetables & herbs growing.  Apparently, they had a good harvest last season.

The group meets every second Sunday for a couple of hours.  Not everyone comes to every meeting, but there seems to be a core group.  They are looking for new members because the more people are, the less work for everyone.  Plus, it is fun to meet new people & form new friendships.

We met three lovely members who were very welcoming to both of us.  We both knew that invitations to join the community garden were real, not just words thrown out there.

It was pleasant to be there in the late afternoon sun chatting about the benefits of growing food.  Other people were in the reserve sitting there reading, while others were watching the activity happening at the garden.  From being a drab, empty green space, Gilbert Barry Reserve is now much improved, has beauty & usefulness & most importantly, offers inclusiveness & purpose for the community.

The more these community gardens are allowed to be formed in public spaces the better in my opinion. Despite Sydney getting larger & more populated, loneliness in the community is on the rise.  Gardens like this bring people together & break down barriers.   They not only help people learn how to grow food, they foster happiness & connection.  Getting out in nature & fresh air is good for our health too.

The community garden has a Facebook group called, ‘Gilbert’s Garden.’  If you are interested in joining or would just like to help occasionally, you can contact them here – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1491955174436769/

Gilbert Barry Reserve looking towards the road  from the community garden

Gilbert Barry Reserve looking towards the road from the community garden

Part of the new garden beds & new seating

Part of the new garden beds & new seating

Note the magnificent Melaleuca street tree.  This is the result when tall growing street trees are planted on the side without powerlines.  Photo shows new park bench and new garden bed,

Note the magnificent Melaleuca street tree. This is the result when tall growing street trees are planted on the side without powerlines. Photo shows new park bench, new tree and new garden bed

Little Pied Cormorant. We need to increase areas of biodiversity beyond the the train line corridors and the Cooks River.

Little Pied Cormorant. I think we need to increase areas of biodiversity beyond the train line corridors and the Cooks River if we are to help local wildlife.  Our gardens are a huge part of this.

Bernie Krause is a Soundscape Ecologist.  He records the sounds of the natural environment & has been doing so for the past 50-years.  He records in the same place over & over again & sadly can show how much has changed in the natural world.

It’s getting very quiet.  He thinks this is due to global warming, drought & loss of habitat from clearing of forests.  Makes sense to me.

This 3.5-minute video, ‘Recording the Sounds of Extinction’ is well worth watching.  Released in May 2016 the video allows us to clearly hear the loss of wildlife.  Our world is changing & not for the better.

To watch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnpsMG0PWRY

Sitting in the shade at Steel Park

Sitting in the shade at Steel Park

If you have watched or listened to the news of late you will know that a massive heatwave is expected tomorrow Friday continuing  through Saturday & Sunday.  We have had excessive heat all week, but the weather to come is concerning the experts.

“The Bureau of Meteorology says a severe heatwave is moving through the southern parts of South Australia and much of Victoria, while spreading further east into New South Wales’ coastal regions and south-west Queensland.”  http://ab.co/2kpo3ay

Heatwaves can kill.  Babies, young children, older people & sick people are most at risk, but really, no-one is immune to being struck by heatstroke.  Those with kidney disease & diabetes, people taking medication (diuretics & beta blockers), people with alcohol or other drug misuse problems, pregnant & breastfeeding woman, people who are overweight & tourists from cooler climates are deemed especially at risk.

The following are some ways to help manage the heat –

  • It may be obvious, but stay inside. We have all seen someone running in sweltering midday heat.
  • Draw the curtains & close the windows. Opening windows may not help unless you are getting a cool breeze.
  • Run a bath of lukewarm water & get in & out as needed.
  • Cool showers can also help lower body temperature.
  • Eat light food.
  • Drink lots of fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Wear light, loose non-synthetic clothing. Wet your clothes, wear a wet towel or a wet sarong.
  • A wet washer on your head can help too.
  • Sit down & soak your feet into a container of cold water.

Other actions –

  • Bring pets inside & ensure they have easy access to drinking water.
  • Put water out in numerous places for the wildlife.
  • Please check on your neighbour, especially if they live alone.
  • If you have air-conditioning, invite neighbours, family, friends over who don’t.
  • Never leave kids, adults or pets in hot cars. The temperature inside a parked car can rise rapidly to 30-40°C hotter than outside.
  • If it is too hot at home & the following are not far away, go to air-conditioned buildings like the local library, a community centre, the cinema or shopping malls.

Signs of heat exhaustion include dizziness, heat rash, muscle cramps, headache & fainting.  It can be helped with rest, cooling down & good hydration, including electrolytes.     The internet has many DIY electrolyte replacement drink recipes.

Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can shut down the body’s ability to sweat. From this point, it is a short progression to heat stroke, which is a medical emergency. Symptoms include dry skin, high temperature, confusion & if allowed to progress, unconsciousness & perhaps death.

Taking the heat seriously & being prepared can help save your life.

Friday  10th February 2017 – The temperature in my courtyard is a hefty 46 degrees celsius at 3:45pm.

A large birdbath in Bankstown City Council Sylvan Grove Native Garden.  I think it is wonderful for local councils to provide water for birds.

A large birdbath in Bankstown City Council owned Sylvan Grove Native Garden. I think it is wonderful for local councils to provide water for birds.

The Australian Bird Feeding and Watering Study is happening once again.  I missed week one, but there are three more weeks to participate in this citizen science event.

The researchers at Deakin University & Griffith University want to know “what species are attracted to these resources and why people like to provide them.  Most importantly we need to understand the ecological and behavioural effects of bird feeding as almost all information from other countries regarding bird feeding simply does not apply here.  We acknowledge that feeding of wild birds is an important activity for large numbers of people and that the practice may be a significant way for many to connect with nature.”

The ultimate aim of the research is to “develop purpose guidelines for people who feed birds to do so with minimum risk to birds.” 

You don’t need to commit to the whole period, though you can if interested.  You are asked to observe the water/food source for 20-minutes a day & report your observations on the Citizen Science website.

Dates –

  • Monday 6th – Sunday 12th February 2017
  • Monday 13th – Sunday 19th February 2017
  • Monday 20th – Sunday 26th February 2017

To participate you need to sign up here – https://csdb.org.au/Account/Sign-Up.aspx

A lot of money was spent preventing the little fairy martins from building their nests here. No nest - no breeding.

A lot of money was spent preventing the little fairy martins from building their nests here.

We cycled through Tempe Reserve yesterday & saw something that made us both feel very disappointed.

Both kiosks have had what appears to be deterrents attached to prevent fairy martins from building their mud nests.  Chicken wire has been neatly & firmly attached to every part of the kiosk roof where the birds might try to build a nest.  I mean meters & metres of the stuff.  The Inner West Council – Marrickville invested a lot of ratepayers’ money to produce a neat & solid outcome.

I checked on google & yes, chicken wire is used in place of plastic netting to prevent birds from building mud nests.

For years, the fairy martins have built their nests on the underside of the concrete roof of the kiosks.   Unfortunately, the some of the public did not approve & broke their nests –

  • for fun,
  • for eggs to add to soup so I was told (nothing like wildlife to add to your diet) or
  • simply because they just didn’t like the look of the “spooky nests.”

I was happy in 2013 when Council fenced off the kiosks to allow the birds to breed.  Unfortunately, someone demolished the fences in an overt display of human superior power & their right to dominate a kiosk at the park to the exclusion of the birds.  See – http://bit.ly/2l5MsWH

I was even happier when in 2015, Council built two small structures for the Fairy martins in the middle of the saltwater wetland where people usually don’t go.  Having reread this post, I felt stunned at the incredible turnaround by council this year.  See – http://bit.ly/1HVotuV

I have not seen any reports that the birds are using the purpose-built structures in the wetland.  I looked late last year & there was no sign of mud nests, but this may take time anyway.

This year Council has confirmed that humans have exclusive rights over the wildlife in open parklands by ensuring the fairy martins cannot build their nests at the kiosks.  I feel sad about this & think it was a poor decision by Council.

These nests are a perfect opportunity to educate the public about wildlife.  The mud nests are interesting in themselves & offer us a look at something quite lovely that is happening in the park.  I had not seen these birds up close until I saw one sitting in a mud nest.  Indeed, that was the first time I had seen a mud nest.    Not surprising as these tiny birds are the only Australian bird to build bottle-shaped nests out of mud.

Instead of blocking off the kiosk in a better way this year & that includes adding bollards to prevent cars from entering into the park so they cannot be used by selfish vandals to pull down fences, Council has elected to oust the birds.

Even today there was a car near the wetland. The driver was having problems because of the drilling by the WestConnex Authority happening that was blocking his ability to drive down the shared pathway, but I digress.

Instead of talking with local schools & having onsite education with school children about fairy martins & the importance of biodiversity, council has decided to oust the birds.

Instead of deciding to educate the general community on the importance of biodiversity, council has decided to oust the birds.

Instead of having a Ranger around for the nesting period, council has decided to oust the birds.

This is an example where biodiversity is important on paper, but not in real life.

Vandalised fairy martin mud nests in the same kiosk.

Vandalised fairy martin mud nests in the same kiosk. Photo 2013.

Photo of street tree pruning done just two weeks ago by Ausgrid in Walenore Avenue Newtown.  Photo by Chris O'Dell used with thanks.

Photo of street tree pruning done just two weeks ago by Ausgrid in Walenore Avenue Newtown. Photo by Chris O’Dell used with thanks.

It is wonderful to see the push to have power companies take responsibility & pay for the damage they do to street trees is starting to gain momentum.  It means that there is cultural change happening & this is always good.

“A decision by the newly formed inner west Sydney Council to lobby Ausgrid to replace damaged trees is attracting plenty of interest here in the Southern Highlands.”

Wingecarribee Council Deputy Mayor Ian Scandrett “believes Endeavour Energy should contribute to selected replacement of the main trees which have been disfigured.   However, he’s also open to the idea of directing those contributions towards putting wires underground in our streets to preserve avenues of trees.”   

Hornsby Shire Council is also tackling the issue of street tree pruning for powerlines this time with Ausgrid.

In a January 2017 media release titled, ‘Council’s push to move powerlines underground,’ “At December’s meeting Council approved a mayoral minute seeking a discussion with electricity provider Ausgrid about ways to gradually place the power supply underground.  Council will also investigate ways to ensure all new subdivisions and high density developments include underground cabling.”

 “That pruning transforms the trees into stunted shadows of their real potential.  Imagine what we can do to our streetscapes if we have unlimited ability to plant trees and allow them to grow to their full scale.  We will have beautiful avenues of trees that will make our Bushland Shire an even more attractive place to live.” ~ ” Mayor Steve Russell, Hornsby Shire Council.

I agree 100 per cent.  Imagine also the ability to cool our streets & neighbourhoods if street trees were able to grow to their full potential.  It would mean that the urban heat island effect would be less dangerous, that people are less likely to die during heatwaves, that it would be nice to walk to wherever we are going & for those who do not have cars, walking would be a nicer experience than it currently is.

Those trees would be able to deliver more amenity in terms of beauty, shade, reduced cooling costs, & as the research keeps telling us, better public health.

Trees capture air-pollution & particulate from vehicles.  Particulate matter (that black stuff on your window sills) has been found to –

  • increase the incidence of respiratory illnesses such as asthma,
  • increase the incidence of heart disease and increase the incidence of fatal heart attacks &
  • increase incidence of dementia.

If these are not reason enough why street trees should be a priority, I don’t know what can be.

One of my Perth friends told me that powerlines are going underground, which was new to me.  I googled & found this published in January 2014, which shows how far behind we are.

For over a decade, Western Power has been undertaking an extensive program to put powerlines underground throughout Western Australia. Around 18 per cent of the overhead distribution network existing at the start of the program in 1996 is now underground, including 54 per cent of the Perth metropolitan area.”

“The recognised benefits of putting power underground include fewer blackouts during inclement weather, enhanced visual appearance, improved property values, reduced street tree pruning requirement and brighter, safer streets with the new lighting system.”

About 98% of the works are done by directional drilling. ….  The extensive use of directional drilling helps minimise the impact on residents and keeps reinstatement costs low.”  There is more information on how it is done & who pays for what in this interesting articlehttp://bit.ly/2kE43oH

I received the following in an email from a local resident last week –

“We desperately need a great urban canopy to cool our streets, footpaths and suburbs.   For visual amenity, for wildlife, to encourage walking, to cool cars for those of us without driveways/undercover car parking.  Putting power cables underground means we can have the trees we want looking great and providing the canopy we need.”

Inner West Council, please add putting powerlines underground in your negotiations with Ausgrid.   Although a slow process, underground cables will allow this municipality to be transformed into a greener municipality which would be healthier for all, including the wildlife.

January 2017 tree pruning by Ausgrid in Renwick Street Marrickville.  This is one of multiple examples on this street.

January 2017 tree pruning by Ausgrid in Renwick Street Marrickville. This is one of multiple examples on this street.

 

Ausgrid pruning of street trees in Fotheringham Street Enmore last week.   Photo by Catherine Bakker‎ and used with thanks.

Ausgrid pruning of street trees in Fotheringham Street Enmore last week. Photo by Catherine Bakker‎ and used with thanks.

More Ausgrid pruning of street trees in Fotheringham Street Enmore last week.  Photo by Catherine Bakker‎ and used with thanks.

More Ausgrid pruning of street trees in Fotheringham Street Enmore last week. Photo by Catherine Bakker‎ and used with thanks.

The Inner West Council said in a press release dated 18th January 2017 that they are negotiating with power company Ausgrid to pay the costs of removing trees damaged by Ausgrid’s pruning & the planting of replacement trees.

The press release says  –

  • Council are “targeting the replanting of trees damaged by tree trimming in many inner west streets.”
  • “Council officers have been working with Ausgrid officers to nominate selected trees that should be replaced.”
  • “Ausgrid has agreed to assess and mostly likely approve the removal of these trees.”

While I am glad that Council are negotiating to have Ausgrid pay for the removal & replacement of the trees they have decimated by their pruning, I have some trepidation wondering just how many of our street trees will need to be removed.   If you look at the state of the street trees around the former Marrickville municipality, you will see that the numbers will not be insignificant.

Ausgrid have created an unnecessary loss of the urban forest & one which will have an negative impact on the community in terms of heat, pollution, stormwater management & the mental/physical health of the community, not to mention the cost to wildlife who possibly lose their homes & food source.

There has been a lot of research published recently that found that street trees provide numerous benefits to human health.  The lack of a good urban forest causes problems such as increased obesity, more respiratory & heart disease, more fatal heart attacks & the latest, more incidence of dementia.  Also, a poor urban forest is known to increase unhappiness & depression in the community & poorer learning in children.

Therefore, it is not a small impact to the community by Ausgrid when they pruned our street trees to such a degree that council thinks the trees will never recover & need to be removed.  It takes years for trees to grow to a point where they are providing viable benefits to the community, so all the health problems listed above are another impact caused by Ausgrid.

There are other tree losses that are not covered by this negotiation with Ausgrid by Council.  Just in my block one mature tree in a front garden was removed because Ausgrid removed one whole side of the tree leaving an unsightly half a tree behind. It is not only street trees that have been negatively impacted.

I applaud the Inner West Council for pursuing this action with Ausgrid.
Council is also looking at an aerial bundle cabling program, which is wonderful.  Take a look at the streets in the Botany area to see what the difference can mean to street trees.  Ausgrid will not need to prune so harshly if there is aerial bundle cabling installed.  It is a much better option than ordinary powerlines, though not as good as installing powerlines underground.  The last option is more expensive, but should be a condition for all new developments in my opinion.

Council in lobbying Ausgrid to develop an Inner West Guideline for tree pruning “sympathetic to our urban metropolitan environment – an area that is not fire prone.”

This is also a great move by Council.
Further in the press release – “The recent discussions with Ausgrid comes after Council late last year received a commitment from Ausgrid that their tree trimming contractors will continue to reduce the cutback they carry out on local street trees to achieve a safe clearance from power lines.  New contractors are now being directed to cut a reduced clearance of just 1 metre from low voltage wires, plus up to 0.5 metre for regrowth for a maximum of 1.5 metres in total resulting in a much improved result for local street trees than previous more radical pruning.”

Then why are Ausgrid, just in the last week, pruning way below the telecommunications cable?  The photos I posted in this post of trees in Fotherington Street Enmore & Renwick Street Marrickville are January 2017 examples of the new improved pruning from Ausgrid.  Sorry, but this was not the norm when Energy Australia did the street tree pruning.

The street trees in Renwick Street Marrickville were pruned last week.

The street trees in Renwick Street Marrickville were pruned by Ausgrid last week.  This is not “trimming.”

More examples of street tree pruning by Ausgrid in street trees in Renwick Street Marrickville

More examples of street tree pruning by Ausgrid in street trees in Renwick Street Marrickville.  

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