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Google map of Marrickville Golf Course. Mahoney Reserve is at the bottom right of the map. 

A view of Marrickville Golf Course from across the Cooks River

This is important community consultation & something we should all participate in even if we are not a golfer.  As our area gets more developed, places like this & the Golf Club’s activities are going to become even more important for the community.

The Inner West Council is developing a new Plan of Management & landscape Master Plans for the Marrickville Golf Course & the Dibble Avenue Waterhole, which will decide the future use & facilities over the next 10-years.  It must be easier for Council to do things over a ten-year period, but for me, I worry about this length of time because our community & area is changing so rapidly.

Marrickville Golf Course covers 20-hectares, most of which is owned by the Inner West Council.  The Marrickville Golf Club leases the land from Council.  A condition of the lease is that they provide public access to the open spaces of the golf course.

There are many in the community that avail themselves of walking or cycling through the golf course because it is one of the best natural areas in the locality, especially as it runs alongside the Cooks River.   Apart from the main road in & the path to the bridge over the river, there is no concrete & this makes it a great place to walk.

This won’t last for too long though because as part of their ‘Cooks River Parklands Plan of Management & Master Plan’ that was ratified in 2016, Council wants to install a new pedestrian crossing on Illawarra Road from Steel Park to a new 3-metre wide concrete shared pathway along the river’s edge in Mahoiney Reserve after they have completed naturalization work on the river bank. The first stage will stop at the golf course, but Council would like to connect this path to the bridge over the Cooks River in Marrickville Golf Course.  This is despite the 3-metre shared pathway just across on the other side of the river.

The Dibble Avenue Waterhole is heritage listed & is also a Priority Biodiversity Site.  It is an important refuge for wildlife & aquatic plants.

Marrickville Golf Club uses water from the Dibble Avenue Waterhole to irrigate the golf course & has done so since the 1940s.

Council says that the development of the plans provides opportunities to introduce best practice sustainable land & environmental management for both sites.”

“The process will look at –

  • ways to improve safe public access to the golf course.
  • ways to increase everyone’s enjoyment of the spaces.
  • alternative water sources for the golf course.
  • acceptable limits on water extraction[from Dibble Avenue Waterhole] into the future.”

Council is holding onsite opportunities for the community to learn more & give Council feedback at two locations.

  1. Marrickville Golf Club Carpark on Saturday 2ndJune 2018 from 1pm-3pm.
  2. Mahoney Reserve beside the Amenities Block on Saturday, 16thJune 2018 from 1pm-3pm.

If you don’t want to attend either of these sessions, you can still participate by completing a survey on Your Say Inner West by Monday 25thJune 2018.  See – https://bit.ly/2LtnPNQ

Lastly, there is no mention in the survey of Council’s plans to halve the Marrickville Golf Course from 18 holes to 9 holes to make room for more sporting fields.  See –  https://bit.ly/2GRxf28    

Dibble Avenue Waterhole – a biodiversity hotspot & returned to being one of Marrickville’s really beautiful historic places. There is a microbat box on the pier on the left.

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Plants for sale at Marrickville Community Nursery

Inner West Council is holding an Open Day at Marrickville Community Nursery.

Council says attendees will –

  • Take a guided tour.
  • Learn about native plants & native gardening.
  • Hear from volunteers who help local biodiversity.
  • Learn how to volunteer for local biodiversity.
  • Go home with a free seedling.

WHEN:          Saturday 26thMay 2018.

WHERE:        Marrickville Community Nursery is located in the Addison Road Community Centre between Reverse Garbage & The Bower – 142 Addison Road Marrickville.

TIME:             10am – 1pm.

I have attended a similar event at Marrickville Community Nursery & it was good.  I enjoyed myself.

A Pied cormorant and a Little black cormorant sit together 

City of Sydney are holding a Bioblitz on Friday evening 13th April & Saturday 14th April 2018 at Sydney Park.

What is a Bioblitz?  This is where regular people of all ages become citizen scientists & get together to record all the living beings they see so the Council & the community can learn about the biodiversity at Sydney Park.

There will be workshops, science activities, lectures & bike safaris.

On the evening of Friday the 13th you can help survey the microbats or participate in a spotlighting survey looking for animals in the park.  Or you could look inside nesting boxes with a camera on a stick or search for frogs in the wetlands.

At dawn on Saturday morning, there will be a bird survey & in the afternoon a bike safari up the Alexandria Canal looking at what animals and plants are living in this location.  Learn also about the cultural & environmental history of the canal.  On Saturday evening, there will be a spider spotting survey.

There will be a Bioblitz Hub manned by scientists & staff from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.  They will help you to record & identify sightings & be available for a chat.  There will be microscopes to use, as well & drawing of plants found.

There is a list of events, plus cost & booking information here –

https://whatson.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/programs/bioblitz

 

The moment of eye contact

Now I turn around and show you my back.

I ride up & down the Cooks River often & I am always on the lookout for birds. So, it was with great delight that I watched what I thought was a darter doing a magnificent display in the middle of the river.

It appeared to be washing.  Once the bird realised that it was being watched it became more demonstrative literally heaving itself out of the water, using its tail feather like a rudder & flapping its massive wings.    It did a range of movements for approximately 3-minutes.  Once it finished, it lifted itself out of the water & flew downriver.

Once home I got to have a closer look at my photographs & decided it looked more like a great cormorant than a darter.  An ornithologist friend confirmed my identification.

I am sure others have seen great cormorants on the river, but for us, this was a first-time sighting.

The great cormorant is an excellent swimmer.  It chases fish by propelling itself underwater with its feet  & holding its wings close to its body.  It can stay underwater for up to one minute.

The more we take care of the river, the more we are rewarded with sights like this.

Getting ready

I am about to stand up

A bad photo unfortunately. Those wings were beating fast. Look at the strength to rise up out of the water like this.

And here I come down into the water again. Look at those beautiful wings.

The new area.  This and the photo below shows the whole site.

Sometime during winter the Inner West Council – Marrickville cleared the grass below & around their latest ‘habitat trees’ in Mackey Park.  The cordoned off area lay there for a few weeks until it was covered with wood chip.  About a fortnight ago I noticed that the area had been planted with small plants like native grasses.   The more areas that support wildlife the better in my opinion.

Hopefully it fills out.

Ibis work for free aerating the park lawns & playing fields. I think they are a lovely sight down along the Cooks River.

Once again we have an opportunity to help the Office of Environment & Heritage know how many Australian White Ibis we have in Australia & where they are located.

Many people dislike Ibis & call them Bin Chickens because they are often seen picking through garbage.   The truth is that they do have a particular like of your leftovers, particularly takeaway food items.  However, if the Ibis could buy fresh items of takeaway they would.  Instead they are forced to try to reduce landfill or deal with your eatable litter.

They are environmental refugees & because of this, I believe they deserve more tolerance from the community. 

Prior to 1970 they lived in the inland lakes & rivers of NSW.  But tragedy happened with a long persistent drought drying up these places of fresh water.  Then bushfires claimed the large trees they nested in.

So, what does anyone do when their home becomes inhabitable?  They move.  The Ibis flew to the coast & what they found was a life of luxury & easy pickings because humans eat a lot, & throw tons of tasty food away – be it in landfill or in the park.  An Ibis is not concerned with poking about in a bin.  If there is a bit of hamburger down there, he/she wants it.

I often read comments in media & social media about how Ibis terrorize people for food.  Truly, they are not violent birds.  All you need to do is wave your hands or stand up or clap & the Ibis will run away from you as fast as their long skinny pink legs can carry them.  Their long black beak may look intimidating, but it is not a natural behaviour for them to try & poke out the eyes of a human being.  Even when they are being rescued they are desperate to  get away from the person who is trying to remove string or fishing line from their legs or toes.  They are terrified of being too close.

Yes, they stink sometimes, but if they have access to deep enough water they will line up for a chance to have a good long wash.  We also stink if we don’t wash.

They are intelligent, loyal & friendly birds.  If you have been kind to them, they will remember you.  They move around a lot & have been seen all the way down in Victoria & as far as Papua New Guinea.

Probably the biggest misunderstanding I hear often is that they are an exotic species & should go back to Egypt.  They are in fact an Australian native bird.  Egypt has their own Ibis species.

Environment NSW are asking the community to report sightings of Ibis, especially those birds that are wing tagged or have a leg band.  They want to know the numbers of the tags or bands, how many Ibis there are & their behavior.

You can download a free Apple app here – https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/wingtags/id1179274045?mt=8

Or for Android here – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.au.gov.nsw.rbgsyd.wingtags&hl=en

Or you can go directly to the website here – http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/surveys/WhiteIbisSurvey.htm

The survey happens during Bird Week from Saturday 21st to Sunday 29th October 2017.

Seen in Gough Whitlam Park 2-3 months ago. WIRES were contacted. Unfortunately Ibis often get their legs & toes entangled in string (even the string from discarded tea bags), fishing line, balloon cords & any kind of cord left in the parks or waterways. Imagine tying something really tight around your toe. You can’t get it off. It causes you horrendous pain for months until either you die from infection or your toe drops off — and you might still die from infection. This is a routine experience for Ibis & other birds, so please do not take or leave these kind of things in the park. TY

The palm trunk above the Marrickville Golf Course Club House is the new home of a pair of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.  The white dot is a cockatoo.

Squee! Here I am!

I watched the decline & eventual death of an old palm tree behind the Marrickville Golf Course Club House with some sadness.  Trees like this don’t get replanted in my experience.

Recently, I saw something happening at this tree that delighted me.

What is left is the trunk, which is quite tall.  A pair of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos saw this trunk as an ideal home.  I presume they made a new hollow or modified a hollow that was starting to form with the shedding of the fronds.  Whatever way it happened, it is now a perfect hollow with a balcony & a clear view of the Cooks River & we all know the power of water views.

Behind the trunk is a large mature fig tree providing them a safe place to survey the area for any danger before entering the hollow.

In true Cockatoo style, once they realised they had my attention, the pair posed & acted out for my camera until I had enough & moved on.  They seem very proud of themselves.

Even though this tree is dead, it is an incredibly important asset in the Cooks River Biodiversity Corridor.  Trees with hollows are rare in the area, so every attempt must be given to retain this trunk.  It should not be removed to “clean up the area” or similar.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos nest in tree hollows.  Once they find a suitable hollow they stay there indefinitely.   The chicks they rear will remain with the parents as a family unit.

So, for me, discovering this hollow made up for the loss of yet another tree.  Hopefully, a new palm will be planted behind the Club House.  In the meantime, people who are aware of this pair, can have an occasional look to see if they can spot them & any chicks they are rearing.

To my mind, the Club House has been blessed with some mascots to screech & cavort above them.  What fun!

A great home with a big fig tree behind and the river in front.

National Tree Day site in Steel Park Marrickville South. All that is wood chip is the new area that was planted today. It joins last year’s site to create a continuous corridor along the river in this area.

This afternoon we went down to Steel Park Marrickville South to have a look at Inner West Council’s National Tree Day site.  I had looked at the site earlier & noticed just how big the area to be planted is in comparison to previous years.  Inner West Council decided to convert a significant area into habitat for wildlife at this location &  I think this is excellent.

Three new trees were planted –

  • Two Swamp mahoganies (Eucalyptus robusta), an Australian native that can reach up to 30-metres in height. It can live for at least 200-years.  I find exciting to have such long-lived trees planted in a park where it has a decent opportunity to reach such an age.  Fingers crossed anyway.   It flowers well in spring & summer & offers food for birds & other nectar-eating wildlife.  Christmas beetles like to eat the leaves, so hopefully we will see some of these at Steel Park.
  • One Prickly-leaved paperbark (Melaleuca styphelioides) – also an Australian native. This is a medium-sized tree that reaches between 5-11 metres in height.   It has a dense, rounded canopy with drooping branchlets & produces cream or white cylindrical bottlebrush-like flowers in summer.  It likes to grow along stream banks or other moist situations, so good for this location.

Everyone who planted today have done the whole community a service & I thank them.   It is excellent to see more places along the river that are for wildlife only & I personally, think that looking at bushy areas is far more interesting than great expanses of lawn.  The birds will come, which adds a further layer of enjoyment to users of the park.

A closer look. Each dark patch is where something was planted.

The 3 trees that were planted.  Swamp mahogany in the foreground, the Melaleuca in the middle and another Swamp mahogany in the background.  

Nesting box along the Cooks River in Earlwood.

$200,000 was spent trying to protect wildlife impacted by the Southern Hume Highway Duplication project in Southern NSW.  See – http://ab.co/2uDf9fl

587 nesting boxes were installed to replace the 587 trees with natural hollows that were felled as part of major tree clearing between Holbrook and Coolac to build the highway.  The nesting boxes were to help the Superb parrot, the Brown treecreeper & the squirrel glider deemed threatened or in need of assistance.

NSW Roads and Maritime Services commissioned the nesting boxes, as well as a 4-year follow-up study to see whether the boxes were being used.  The boxes were checked 3,000 times over the four years.

The follow-up study found the project had failed.

“There will be some populations of these species that basically won’t do well now because they won’t have the nesting resources and they won’t have those resources for the next 200 to 300 years.  We need to make sure we don’t make those mistakes again.” ~ Professor David Lindenmayer, Australian National University Canberra.

Trees take between 80-150 years to develop hollows, so changes in tree management is needed if hollow-dependent wildlife are to survive.  We cannot feel confident that nesting boxes can be offered as a substitute for a natural tree hollow.

No hollow means no breeding.  No breeding leads to extinction.

The 2017 National Tree Day site in Steel Park is being prepared with mulch. It is a large area, approximately 50-metres long.  It will join up with last year’s planting site.  

National Tree Day is happening on Sunday 30th July 2017.  Inner West Council (Marrickville) is inviting the community to help add to the environmental work done in Steel Park at last year’s National Tree Day site.

A large area of lawn was removed & the area planted with native plants & trees.   Council wants to create connected areas of habitat along the river for wildlife to live & forage for food & this is a very good thing.

PLANTING –

WHEN:          Sunday 30th July 2017.

WHERE:        Steel Park Illawarra Road Marrickville beside the shared pathway along the Cooks River east of the children’s playground.

TIME:             10am – noon.

BRING:          Refillable water bottle & a hat.   Council will provide gloves, tools, watering cans/buckets, drinking water & refreshments.

FREE TREE GIVEAWAY –

Council will also be giving away free trees to increase the urban forest canopy.  The trees will be advanced sized stock (25 litre bags/300mm pots), so you will need to have the means to get the tree home & have room for it to grow in your garden.

Conditions to be eligible for a free tree are –

  • One tree per household. You will need to provide proof of address (Council rates notice or Drivers Licence).
  • Residents must obtain the necessary approvals for selecting the trees and the planting locations within the property boundary. We suggest you investigate where best to plant the tree to minimise any risks to property or people.
  • Inner West Council makes its best endeavours to provide a healthy tree with average growth height information, but makes no warranties concerning the tree.” – from Inner West Council’s website – link below.

The tree species available are all natives & all provide food for wildlife –

  • Lilly Pilly Acmena smithii ‘Red Tip Form’
  • Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia
  • Bella Donna Brachychiton populneus x acerifolius
  • ‘Dawson River Weeper’ Callistemon viminalis
  • NSW Christmas Bush Ceratopetalum gummiferum
  • Riberry Syzygium luehmannii

Council staff will be available to talk you about tree choice & how to care for it, but you can download information about the trees & their growth expectations here – http://bit.ly/2urXzdS

WHEN:          Sunday 30th July 2017.

WHERE:  The free trees can be collected from the southern carpark of the Debbie and Abbey Borgia Centre, entrance off Illawarra Road Marrickville.

TIME:             10am – noon.

BRING:          The trees are “advanced size,” so you will need a suitable vehicle to take your tree home.

There is also a planting event happening at Wilkins Green in Wilkins High School in Marrickville. 

“For National Tree Day, our goal is to plant out the ridgeline, which borders the western side of the Green, with native species, further increasing biodiversity for the whole of the Marrickville area and creating a wildlife corridor, or sanctuary, for native Australian fauna, who will find food and shelter within the Green.  Our long term goal is to create a native Bush Land which is self-sustaining, home to wildlife and a showcase to the wider community of what is possible in the urban landscape.”  How great is that!

WHEN:          Sunday 30th July 2017.

WHERE:        Wilkins Green, in Wilkins High School, corner of Livingstone & Sydneham Roads Marrickville.  Parking is available inside the school through the gate on Sydneham Road or street parking is available.

TIME:             10:00am – 2:00pm

BRING:          They ask that you wear closed toes shoes & bring gloves if you have them.  They also request that you can bring a plate of food to share afterward, as there will be a barbeque.  Refreshments will be supplied.

Many of us have got used to Sydney Park being a National Tree Day site, but it will not be this year.  Instead the main Planet Ark National Tree Day site will be with the City of Parramatta at Third Settlement Reserve in Winston Hills.  Costa the Gnome & Dirtgirl will be there, as well as all the other activities we have seen at Sydney Park over the last few years.  Over 10,000 trees, shrubs & groundcovers will be planted along the creek line in Third Settlement Reserve, which is pretty impressive.

If you are not in the Inner West on National Tree Day or you are interested in traveling to another site, there are plenty of places holding planting events.  They can be found here – http://treeday.planetark.org/find-a-site/search.cfm

A section of last years National Tree Day planting. Photo taken two days ago.  

What was a garden island in lawn is now part of a whole re-vegetated area for wildlife.  The shorter plants were planted last National Tree Day.  Photo taken two days ago.

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