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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.

The “urban renewal” of Leichhardt. Photo taken July 2017.

Inner West Council is holding a public meeting on the Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor Draft Strategy.  If this development goes ahead as planned it will be the end of Dulwich Hill, Marrickville & Sydenham as we know it.  Council has expressed serious concern about the lack of infrastructure to cope with the massive increase in population.  If Council is against it, you know it is bad.

“The revised draft Strategy has increased the number of new dwellings in the inner west by 2,500 to 8,500. Total dwellings have increased by 50% (Marrickville Station Precinct) and 500% (Sydenham Station Precinct).” – Inner West Council press release.  See http://bit.ly/2v87szX

As far as I understand, this does not include the 750 new dwellings I was told has just been approved for the Victoria Road Precinct in Marrickville & the 2,400 new dwellings planned for Carrington Road in Marrickville South.

WHEN:          Thursday 10th August 2017

TIME:              6:30pm

WHERE:        Marrickville Town Hall

The deadline for submissions is Sunday 3rd September 2017.

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.  

Wattles are flowering now.

The Department of Planning & Environment are holding community information sessions regarding the Sydenham to Bankstown Corridor.  All sessions are free to attend.

“Come along to our information session where the project team will be available to discuss the plans with you and answer questions. You can drop in anytime during the three hour time slot.”

  • Dulwich Hill –30pm – 7.30pm on Wednesday 16th August 2017 at Salvation Army, 54 Dulwich Street Dulwich Hill.
  • Marrickville – 10am- 1pm Saturday on 19th August 2017 at Marrickville Town Hall, Marrickville Road.
  • Hurlstone Park –30pm – 7.30pm on Tuesday 22nd August 2017 at Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL Club, 20-26 Canterbury Road Hurlstone Park.

There are also sessions at Campsie, Lakemba & Bankstown.  To book see –  http://bit.ly/2tPbJaN

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.

Screenshot of ‘Health impacts of air pollution – South East Coast Greater Melbourne 2016’ – see http://bit.ly/2tu86I0

First I noticed Sydney Council was reclaiming the road corners & creating verge gardens.  Now Inner West Council is also doing this & I think it is wonderful.

I have seen a few of these popping up around Stanmore, Dulwich Hill & Marrickville, though there may be others in suburbs that I have not seen.

Claiming back land to green it up will have many benefits for the community.  Plants & a street tree will obviously soften the landscape & add beauty.  As the tree grows it will create shade, which will lower the urban heat island effect.   If it is a native tree, it will provide food for urban wildlife, which should a priority in my mind.

Street trees trap particulate matter on their leaves, thereby improving air quality & lowering air pollution levels.

The resulting impact of air pollution on the health of people is starting to gain considerable traction amongst the scientific community.  Air pollution has a tonne of negative impacts such as higher incidence of respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis & emphysema.  Lung capacity & lung function also decreases.

There is an increased risk of cancer, especially breast cancer, as well as heart disease in all ages, including more fatal heart attacks.  Stroke is another high risk.

Air pollution is a threat to child health with lower birth weight & the increased the risk of infection & developmental delays.  Alzheimer’s disease & other dementias are the latest significant health issues found to be linked to air pollution.  The authorities cannot dismiss air pollution considering the incredible amount of suffering & the costs associated with helping people affected by air pollution.

The photos below shows Clarendon Road Stanmore.  The corner has extensive work creating a verge garden & a large garden on what was once road.  A street tree has also been planted.  If this is the way of the future for many of our wide roads & expansive corners, it will transform the streetscapes of the former Marrickville municipality.

I think it is great that Council has started to use these spaces to add green & trees.  They will not impact on driver sight, as clearly demonstrated in neighbouring suburbs that have many more street trees then we do.  Another added benefit is that corners given this treatment may slow drivers down.  They smaller distance pedestrians need to cover to cross the road should also improve safety.

It’s a win for wildlife & a win for the community.

Clarendon Road Stanmore has been transformed.  The opposite side has a small verge garden.

I am pleased to see Council using a variety of native plants. Once grown they could offer habitat for small insects and lizards.

What a positive change to this section of Unwins Bridge Road. Street trees and verge gardens on both sides of the road!

In May 2017 I posted about the new verge gardens created along both sides of Unwins Bridge Road from Tramway Street to the corner of Gannon Street Tempe. See – http://bit.ly/2r7xu1O

I was hopeful that street trees would be planted too.   Well, my wish was granted.  Not only has Inner West Council planted street trees, but they planted a lot of them in just one block.  I think this is the largest number of new trees planted in one block that I have noticed since starting this blog.

Twelve Ornamental pear trees have been planted on the eastern side & seven on the western side of Unwins Bridge Road. This is the species Council are planting along Unwins Bridge Road.

You may have noticed that many of our high traffic roads are lined with Ornamental pear trees.  I think it is because they are so robust & can tolerate poor growing conditions.  They create a fairly dense canopy, so will provide a good pollution barrier between the traffic & the houses collecting some of the particulate matter from passing vehicles.   They should also help muffle some of the traffic noise & cool the street as well.

The trees will also add beauty to this section of Unwins Bridge Road that was previously dominated by concrete for what seems like forever.  The change is quite striking even at this early stage after planting.  Imagine how it will look once everything has grown.

Council has planted a variety of plants from native grasses to native violets & other small plants.  These too will help manage air pollution, add beauty & cool the area down.

I applaud Council for doing this work & for choosing to plant street trees in that location.  The trees will work to improve the air quality for local residents who have to tolerate massive amounts of traffic passing by seven days a week & the associated pollution.

If all our heavy traffic roads could also have the same treatment, this will help improve the health of the residents now & into the future.  More & more research is finding that street trees have a considerable impact on the health of the community, so the more our urban forest increases, the better it will be for all of us.

Showing the western side of Unwins Bridge Road.

Quite a range of plants in the verge gardens.

Community compost bin in Chippendale.  Photo taken 2013.

Good news for World Environment Day.   The Inner West Council is trialling community compost huts & they say they are the first council to do so in Australia.   In 2013 I posted about community compost bins that are scattered around the streets of Chippendale.  It must be huts versus bins that make Inner West Council’s initiative unique.   Whatever the reason, I think community composting is a great idea however it is delivered.

Local residents who live within walking distance to the compost huts & are signed up to participate, can drop off their compostable kitchen waste.  The huts are not for garden waste.

Each compost hut can manage the compostable waste of between 40-60 households.

Inner West Council will manage the compost & turn it once or twice a week.  When ready, the composted material will be available for use by council in local parks or by residents.

I love this initiative.  It’s simple, cheap & totally sustainable.  To have food waste go back into producing lovely rich fertile soil to be used locally is perfect.  I really hope the trial works & compost huts will become the norm for use of residents all over the municipality.  Well done Council.

Strange split pole with a nesting hollow attached on the side. I shall be interested to see how this progresses.

Last weekend we came across something very interesting at Tempe Recreation Reserve.  A very tall power pole has been installed in the small hill next to the 2015 National Tree Day site.  Half way up the pole a man-made tree hollow has been attached.

The pole itself has three splits down its length to around half a metre from the ground.  Other people walking in the park joined us to discuss the mystery of the pole.  Was it an accident, was the pole meant to be split like this perhaps to offer shelter for microbats or had it been hit by lightning?

We decided lightning was out because there had not been a storm in the previous week when they said the pole had been installed. The conversation roamed to microbats because they like to sleep in crevices.  The wind was making the sections of the pole move, which I thought  might squash any sleeping bats, but I am not an expert of microbat habitat.

I could imagine a pole with several of these man-made tree hollows attached at various heights along the pole.  High-rise totem pole housing for wildlife & with superb water views.   You have got to love that.

Red-rumped parrots can often be seen in Tempe Reserve & these birds need tree hollows or nesting boxes to breed.  Perhaps they will move in.

It is sad that so many trees have been removed in our cities, especially older trees that have hollows, but I am pleased that Inner West Council is concentrating on this issue of hollows for wildlife & exploring creative options.  There is no doubt this pole is creative housing for wildlife.

Last month I spotted a family of Australian Wood ducks wandering along the riverbank at the Marrickville Golf Course.  This was the first time I have seen Australian Wood ducks along the Cooks River.   These ducks breed in tree hollows.  Once the fledglings are ready to leave the nest, their parent leaves & the chicks, one by one, take a death defying leap to the ground.

You may have seen videos of this, but if you haven’t, this short video of wood ducks leaving the hollow is worth watching.  I flinch watching these brave little balls of fluff tumbling through the air to bounce on the ground below.  It’s a big start to life.      See – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkBSkFyUyv0

Australian Wood ducks walking along the Cooks River in Marrickville Golf Course.  There are another three ducks not included in this photo.  

A rain garden is being created just behind the picnic table.

Murdoch Park at 171 Illawarra Road Marrickville is undergoing Stage Two of an upgrade.

Stage One was completed in June 2014.  The then Marrickville Council spent $50,000 to add a path, a new gate, a picnic table, a park bench, a drinking fountain & two sandstone sculptures.   They also planted a garden, vines along the fence & four trees.  The trees were a special treat because this green space had no trees & was just a patch of grass with a diagonal path from front to the back lane.  See –  http://bit.ly/2qvwUdj

Stage two includes a raingarden, which was being created when I went past recently.  I think Inner West Council has done well to make this small green space attractive & useable for people & a source of food & habitat for wildlife.

Green space is scarce in the former Marrickville municipality, so Council ensuring that each & every space is attractive strongly benefits the community.

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