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Seen in Tempe Reserve last weekend.

Seen in Tempe Reserve last weekend.  This bird has both wingtags & a metal ring above her right knee.  She also has all her toes.

I saw a juvenile Ibis in Tempe Reserve on the weekend strutting around with prominent yellow tags attached to her wings.  Although the wingtags looked bulky they seemed to have no impact on the bird or the other Ibis.

Curious about this I ldid a search on the net & found that the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney is conducting research into the Australian white ibis within the Sydney region.  Their aim is to monitor where the Ibis go, their preferred habitat & their breeding. The birds have been banded on the leg and/or wing-tagged.

Apparently Sydney Ibis in the research study have been sighted in Coffs Harbour in NSW, Shepparton in Victoria, as well as in Brisbane & Townsville in QLD.   Four Ibis have made it all the way to  Papua New Guinea!

The Royal Botanic Gardens are asking the public to help by reporting any sightings of banded white ibis to, even if the Ibis are seen in Papua New Guinea or the Moluccas Islands.

Not all the Ibis have had their wings tagged, so have a look at their legs both at the ankle & above the knee.

“The critical information to report is the tag number & colour or the position of the bands & their colours. An easy way to do this is to note each part of the bird’s leg. For example:

  • Left Upper (thigh) – Nothing
  • Left Lower (shin) – Yellow/Pink (top to bottom)
  • Right Upper – Metal
  • Right Lower – Green.”

The Royal Botanic Gardens are also researching Sulphur-crested cockatoos within the Sydney region – again to understand their movement, habitat preference & breeding.

They are asking the public to share sightings with a photo if possible to & to include the tag number & colour of the wingtag.

There is a free iphone app to help you report sightings called – Wingtags.

For more information see –

I look forward to the outcome of this research.  It should be really interesting.

The yellow plastic bolts look a bit alarming, but she seemed unaffected by them.

The yellow plastic bolts look a bit alarming, but she seemed unaffected by them.


The Tropical Centre in the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney has a stunning exhibition on until Sunday 13th May 2012.   Artists Scott Cardamatis & Joseph Saad created very unusual & beautiful art works using seed pods sourced exclusively from Australian plants.  All of the artwork is for sale.  They would be murder to dust, but I’d gladly be the owner of any one of these pieces.  The exhibition is open 7 days from 10am-4pm — adults $5.50, child $3.30, concession $4.40, family $11.

You can watch a short video of the exhibition here –

These lovely seed pods sourced from Enmore Park look plain compared with some of the amazing seed pods used in the art works on exhibition. Many of the seed pods I have not seen before & are truly exotic in appearance.


On 17 February 2011 the Federal Court ruled against the Bat Advocacy Inc’s challenge to the decision of the Minister for Environment Protection Peter Garrett to allow the forced removal of the colony of Grey-Headed Flying-Foxes (GHFF) from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. This was not an appeal to review the merits of the decision, but a hearing on points of law. The court said that its function was to examine whether “the correct processes were followed by the Minister in making his decision.”

Flying-foxes love the nectar of flowering Gums & will quietly drink from each flower of the tree

Bat Advocacy Inc raised 4 challenges, which were answered by the court as follows:

1. Q:    Did the Minister fail to take into account a relevant consideration when exercising his power of approval. That consideration was the impact on the GHFF resulting from their removal from their critical habitat in the Gardens. A:    The Minister concluded that the proposed action should be attempted if the GHFF could be acceptably & safely dispersed in order to prevent ongoing damage being occasioned to the internationally significant trees within the Gardens. Thus, the Minister did not fail to consider the loss of the GHFF habitat in the Gardens and the draft Recovery Plan.

2. Q:    Did the Minister fail to take into account a relevant consideration, namely the social matters & the associated community conflicts resulting from the dispersal of the GHFF to areas outside the Gardens. A:    The portion of the Reasons under the heading ‘Social & Economic Matters’ demonstrates that the Minister has given due regard to information on social matters identified in the PER & in public submissions.

3. Q:    Did the Minister fail to take into account all adverse impacts, present & throughout the duration of the approval, that the approval would have on matters protected by Part 3 of the EPBC Act. The approval is stated to remain effective until 2039. The applicant does not identify the impacts which have allegedly been disregarded by the Minister. Rather, the submission merely suggests that there may be cumulative impacts which will adversely affect the GHFF. A:     Based upon the precise nature of the monitoring, which will continue throughout the life of the approval, & upon which the life of the approval is contingent, it could not be said that the Minister failed to consider how the approval would operate to the date of expiry.

4. Q:    Did the Minister fail to take into consideration other information in the Minister’s possession concerning similar GHFF dispersals which had been raised in public submissions and referred to in the Independent Expert Report of Dr Richards. A:     The Minister was aware of the potential for the proposed action to be unsuccessful. In these circumstances, the Court cannot conclude that the Minister failed to consider previous unsuccessful attempts to disperse colonies of GHFF in Australia.

That still doesn’t make the decision the right one & the court hasn’t answered this question.

In May 2011, the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust will start dispersal techniques of around 22,000 ‘threatened’ grey-headed flying foxes.  The Sydney Morning Herald wrote – “But the Gardens said that to date the bats had destroyed 27 mature trees & more than 20 palms since they took up residence there 20 years ago.  Another 300 trees were at risk, Dr Entwisle said.  Several sites have been identified as possible homes for the bats, including existing flying fox camps at Ku-ring-gai, Cabramatta & Parramatta.  Botany Bay National Park & Lane Cove National Park were also named, although the Gardens has said it could not be certain whether the bats would settle in any specific location.”

Flying-foxes also love the nectar from Grevillea flowers

According to bat experts, dispersal techniques will make the bats tired & stressed, making them prone to serious injury. They will have to join other colonies to fight & compete with food that was, at least during 2010, very scarce.  Bats were found all along the east coast of Australia & as far as Adelaide looking for food with some eating citrus fruit in country orchards, although citrus is not their usual food.

The east coast situation of starving bats has resulted in an increase in anti-bat sentiment in the community with many complaining about bats in their garden keeping them or their children awake at night. This blog’s stats show with alarming regularity people searching the question, “How to get rid of bats?”  I know what the answer will be.  Some people will chop down their trees to take away the food & the tree/s that the bats are using.  No tree, no bat. I predict there will be a great increase tree removal & despite the rules & regulations of Councils, many won’t bother to get permission.  Our Council wouldn’t know the true numbers of tree removal across Marrickville LGA & I’d bet this is the same with other Councils.

Golf courses, when they have Fig trees, are wonderful for flying-foxes to find food

Sydney Councils have been saying throughout 2010 that they did not want the 22,000 Botanic Gardens flying-foxes to come to their area so it’s not as simple as removing the bats from the Gardens for them to happily fly away to another home. Their removal will have a ripple effect & I doubt it will be supportive of the bats.

The grey-headed flying fox is listed as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ with the major threat being loss of habitat. Other factors are: being killed by people & declining numbers.  Flying foxes have a very low breeding rate so don’t breed & boom.  They eat native fruit & nectar & do a terrific & vital job in pollination & seed distribution so we actually need them. When starving they will eat citrus fruit.  Because of loss of habitat, flying-foxes come to feed on flowering trees in suburban back gardens.  They eat & leave, rarely deciding to roost & usually only return for 2-3 weeks before moving on to a different food source. There is no evidence that people can get the Hendra virus from bats. Rather than hurt a flying fox if you want to stop it from visiting your garden, contact the Department of Environment Climate Change & Water for assistance –

If you net fruit trees it is important to pull the netting tight so a bat can walk over it, but not get entangled & injured.

I appreciate the situation that the Trust is faced with & understand why they sought the eviction.  However, there are many others like me who are sad & disappointed about this decision, who believe the bats should be allowed to continue to live in the Botanic Gardens & that their eviction will create many more problems for bats & other birds.  It is also an enormous loss of opportunity for ‘natural tourism,’ as many people would travel to see such a glorious sight right in the heart of our city. Let’s hope that everything works out quickly so everyone can be happy, most of all the bats.

I last wrote about the flying foxes at the Royal Botanic Gardens here –’s-royal-botanic-gardens-trust-wants-‘threatened-species’-bats-banished/

A Fig tree in fruit - fabulous food for Flying-foxes

A selection of new garden beds in Robert Street Marrickville

We came across new footpath work in Robert Street Marrickville yesterday.  Marrickville Council has replaced the footpaths & created large garden beds around street trees planted on verges.   It’s happening in other streets so it appears to be a new trend.  I sincerely hope so.

The first time I saw this done was earlier this year in Ivanhoe Street Marrickville South & I was impressed.  The garden beds are twice as large in Robert Street because the footpaths are wider.

As well as the street trees on the verge, Robert Street has beautiful old Brush Box trees that were planted on the sides of the road around 80 years ago. Council has created garden beds on the verge next to many of these trees, which will allow these trees to be able to get a good drink when it rains.  These trees have suffered decades of bitumen almost to their trunks so they should respond well & live longer now they have better access to water.  Council have planted native grasses & Pig Face (I think) & in a year or so, they should look very pretty.

Unfortunately, works like these can cost many thousands of dollars (a tiled footpath outside a small group of shops can cost $60,000) so I would imagine that it would be a slow process creating these types of footpaths as the norm throughout the LGA.  However, it’s worth waiting for.

It is good that by creating these garden beds, the amount of cement coverage has lessened. Not only will the trees get more water & the streets look greener, but the street should be cooler during summer as well.

Is less cement an issue? I think it is & so do many experts.  Urban areas are much hotter than non-urban areas because cement & building surfaces can trap heat from the sun.  This is called the ‘heat island effect.’

The flying foxes that left Queensland to come & live in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens for the past 20 years or so have made their home there because the air temperature is to their liking.  The walls of the tall city buildings, roads, cement surfaces & roofs of the CBD have raised the air temperature & created a climate suitable for the bats. In the city it is called the urban canyon effect because the walls of tall buildings form canyons that capture & hold heat.

Air temperatures can be up to 12 degrees hotter in cemented areas during summer. I have read up to 50 degrees hotter, but this is probably in desert areas.  Much like a car parked in the sun with the windows closed, environments can become heat boxes keeping night temperatures warmer. A 2005 study showed urban air temperatures being up to 12 degrees warmer at night during summer than in rural areas.

Apart from the obvious increase use of power needed to cool houses & the associated costs, the heat island effect also impacts on air quality & health as it causes smog & ground level ozone. Ground level ozone causes respiratory problems like asthma, coughing & lung damage. It can also cause chest pain & heart problems.  This is why research shows that living within 500 metres of a main road can cause significant health problems.  See –

Ground level ozone is also a factor in global warming.  The heat island effect can raise the temperature so much that it causes heat events where heat waves are exacerbated. These events can cause death, particularly in children, the ill & the elderly.

There is also another issue with the heat island effect & that is storm water runoff.  If the runoff is heated by pavements, gutters & roofs, it may be very warm by the time it reaches rivers, ponds & lakes & we have a few in Marrickville LGA.  This hot water can cause death to fish & other water life as well as increase the growth of blue-green algae that sucks all oxygen out of the water causing more fish death.

This is a very basic outline of the heat island effect & I will be writing about it in more depth in a later post. However, I hope what is written so far is enough to understand why our society’s love for cement is a problem.  Cement is easier, but it comes with it’s own problems & these problems follow us into our homes.

A couple of examples in Robert Street Marrickvillewhere residents created gardens to protect street trees. To me, they look great & are far better than bitumen up to the trunk.

It is my belief that we need to plant many more trees across Marrickville LGA.  We need larger trees that create shade, both on private property & as street trees. Street trees that grow straight upwards & have a canopy of no more than 2-3 metres are not a ‘shade tree.’  We also need less cement & bitumen, more gardens & pockets of green space outside of formal parks to keep the heat down, for our mental & physical health & for the health of the planet.

Sydney is getting bigger & bigger & with this urban sprawl comes more cement, more hard surfaces & fewer trees.  My fear is that, if climate change does happen in the way the scientific experts predict (& being a prediction, it has a 50% chance of being worse than what they think will occur), that we & our governing authorities will realise just how important trees & green spaces are, but the weather will be too hot & water in short supply that whatever is planted will have trouble surviving.  Bleak I know, but I have read a lot on this subject & none of it is heartening.

So getting back on subject, what Marrickville Council is doing when they are replacing footpaths is terrific & sensible action for the future.  It will allow people to get used to less cement & hopefully encourage them to be actively involved in the garden beds outside their property.

Yesterday the Sydney Botanic Gardens Trusts announced they have decided to postpone the eviction of the flying foxes until next year.

and the latest press release from the Humane Society International, WIRES & Bat Advocacy

Not exactly about trees, but important in that the issue of greenhouse gas emissions from street lighting was debated just last night at the Marrickville Council Meeting.  The Municipal Association of Victoria has called on State & Federal Governments to help local Councils replace old street lighting with new energy-efficient technology. Called the Give Our Streets the Green Light campaign, it aims to replace an estimated 330,000 local street-lights with 80W mercury vapour lamps. This change will provide an energy saving of approximately 70%, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78,000 tonnes & save $7 million per year. Significant.

On to trees proper: The UTAS School of Geography & Environmental Studies is conducting a national survey to help build a comprehensive picture of Australian attitudes related to trees in cities so if you have an attachment to a tree or a memory relating to trees from your childhood, then tell your tree story now.

It looks like the beautiful Nobbys Headland Newcastle will soon be opened to the public for the first time in more than 150 years.,427001?

Bridge Street, the tree-lined main street of Murray Bridge is lined with Eucalypts & Jacaranda trees.  The Eucalypts are going to be removed by Murray Bridge Council because they believe the trees are too big. Now several business owners have said they want the Jacaranda trees removed as well as “they frequently dropped leaves and flowers, forcing businesses into a constant battle to keep their sidewalks clean.”

Some of us look forward to Jacarana flowers & their purple carpet. I wonder what the financial impact will be once Bridge Street is devoid of trees?  Research has found that shops in tree-lined shady areas earn 11% more as shoppers stay longer & spend more.  If I owned a business, I would be clamoring for the trees to be retained.

Green sites in Maitland are vanishing with close to 90% of the city’s green field sites marked for development. Less than 10% of remnant vegetation, including woodlands & native scrub, remain in the Maitland LGA.

As part of a tree rejuvenation project, Singleton Council is removing an unspecified number of trees in Burdekin Park to rid the park of bats that live there. They will chop the trees down between dusk & 11pm so the bats have no home when they return at dawn. The State government has granted approval under the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act for the removal of the trees under specific conditions.” “It was resolved by council to plant trees of a similar species to the ones being removed.”

Now that the bats which have lived for a couple of decades in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens are about to be kicked out, Campbelltown Council quite reasonably wants to know whether the Macarthur area is at risk of being swamped by 22,000 grey-headed flying foxes. The Botanic Gardens Trust, said, “it was unlikely the flying foxes would come this far west & were more likely to settle in Gordon or the eastern suburbs.” My last post spoke about flying foxes leaving QLD & migrating as far as Adelaide & Tasmania. The Botanic Gardens Trust said, “If the bats moved into areas that were inappropriate, like out west, we’d follow a contingency relocation program.” Hope they do this for the bats about to lose their home at Burdekin Park as well. My guess is that people are going to be complaining loudly because bats have come to live in suburban gardens.  I hope I am wrong & the bats find perfect new homes where people won’t decide they have to move on again.

A COMPANY accused of allowing illegal tree trimming in an environmentally protected zone on a prime Hastings Point Property says it was carrying out maintenance.

The EU is set to finally ban illegal timber in 2012 with MEPs to vote on the proposal in July with the European Council voting in autumn. Companies will be required to state where their timber was harvested. This is a terrific move with up to 40% of the world’s wood production thought to come from illegally logged tropical forests.

11 members of the US Congress have written to Prime Minister Rudd, urging him to fulfill an election promise to ban imports of illegally logged timber.

In magnificent news, the Sindh Forest Department Karachi Pakistan has decided to declare the entire mangrove forests of the Indus Delta as Protected Area. The mangrove forests are located at four geographic locations along 1,046 km of coastline.

Also fantastic news, The Global Environment Facility will fund a “Great Green Wall,” a pan-African proposal to reforest the continent from west to east to battle desertification & reforest northern Africa. $119,000,000 (96 million euros) has been allocated to achieve this. The wall of forest would be more than 7,100 km (4,400 miles) long & average 15 km (9 miles) wide.  The Great Green Wall will travel through Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal & Sudan.

Fossils found in the Isle of Wight in England have shown the way Fig Wasps pollinate fig trees has remained unchanged for at least 34,000,000 years. Fig trees need wasps to transfer their pollen to other trees, while the wasps need figs to lay their eggs inside.  Each of the more than 800 species of Fig tree needs a specific wasp, just 1.5 mm long, to pollinate it.  For me, it’s nice to know that both the Fig Wasps & Fig trees existed 34,000,000 years ago.

There is a very interesting article with Agus Purnomo & Yani Saloh, Special Assistants to the President of the Republic of Indonesia for Climate Change regarding Indonesia’s pledge to reduce deforestation.  It’s a multifaceted issue involving palm oil developers, timber companies & the livelihoods for tens of millions of Indonesians.

Breakfast amongst the Grevillea flowers

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