Monthly bird monitoring cancelled this month due to potential works on rail trail

As the rail trail is intermittently closed so the Road Works Crew can install the bridge beams to form the bridge that will travel over the Tarwin River and the Rail Trail and connect the new Highway with the existing alignment, we will not have access to the bird monitoring sites. Works include building/deconstructing the crane, and when they are pouring the concrete deck overhead.

Good news on the project funding front

Our application for weed control and revegetation funding under the GTEP05Pilot project funding, Linking the Old and New South Gippsland Highways by restoring the Apple Tree Wetlands has been successful!!!!

The Gippsland Transport Environmental Projects – Pilot Program (GTEP Pilot Program) is one of the ways in which Regional Roads Victoria (within the Department of Transport) is supporting environmentally beneficial projects on roadside or land abutting the arterial road network in the Gippsland region, by providing funding to important initiatives in collaboration with local community groups and Catchment Management Authorities. The pilot program provides funding for native vegetation projects along our roadside to support habitats for flora and fauna and maintain biodiversity and aesthetic values.

Our project will link the remnant vegetation on the South Gippsland Highway at Koonwarra with the Apple Tree Wetland on the Tarwin River and remnant vegetation beside the new South Gippsland highway alignment by targeted weed control and revegetation. This will create a continuous corridor of high quality native vegetation between the two aspects of the South Gippsland Highway. The Apple Tree Wetland is adjacent to the new highway realignment but is outside the realigned highway footprint. By restoring this area, connectivity will be created between the remnants on the side of the old highway, the revegetation that will be planted after the removal of the old highway, and the riverside vegetation adjacent to the new road alignment.

The project site is weedy and degraded and this project will remove the weeds and replace them with endemic vegetation, improving habitat and connectivity for animals and birds. The project site is bisected by the Great Southern Rail trail and includes an historic trestle bridge. Revegetation plant species will be chosen that not only support the environment but also enhance the experience of rail trail users. The Apple Tree Wetlands are part of the Nerrena Tarwin Valley Landcare group’s Black Spur Creek Wetlands project which seeks to protect and restore endangered Swampy Riparian Woodland and vulnerable Damp Heathy Woodland which includes Strzelecki gums, a nationally threatened species, along the section of rail trail containing the three creek and river crossings.

There will be opportunities for Landcare group members to become involved in parts of this project. We have contractors to achieve project requirements on the steep or snakey parts of the work, but members will be able to help making seed balls for our direct seeding and participate in seedling tree propagation if they want to. More details soon.

Black Spur Creek Wetlands Project (BSCW) - Update 28

By Sue Miles.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of these lands and waters.

Oh what changes we have seen in the past 3 months viewed from the Great Southern Rail Trail. The new road is taking shape very rapidly and as I write this half of the Minns Road bridge is up with a very large crane overshadowing it. The easterly winds have dominated our bird monitoring evenings and we have seen less birds that normal for this time of the year. We are not sure if the birds have been hiding from the winds or due to the large amount of earthworks happening.

Last month we did see two Wedge Tail Eagles hovering overhead, the Azure Kingfisher again (at the Blackspur Creek bridge) and an echidna walking along the rail trail south of the Koonwarra Recreation Reserve.

an echidna on the rail trail

This past week we have been notified that our group has received funding from Regional Roads Victoria to remove the weeds on the steep slope above and around the Apple Tree rail trail bridge and the current South Gippsland Highway and revegetate this very steep slope. This will link Kate and Pete Walsh's plantings above the current highway down to the Tarwin River. Main Roads Victoria will revegetate the old highway when it is closed to traffic and making it easier for the birds and animals to move about.

Azure Kingfisher at the Black Spur Creek wetlands

The Bass Coast Landcare works crew will be poisoning the Sweet Pittosporum, broom, and other invasive plants that have invaded this area. Sweet Pittosporum suppresses regeneration of other seedlings, especially Gum Trees, which provide essential habitat for so many birds and animals. This bank is dotted with some very old gum trees, and we hope to revegetate this area with locally collected seeds and to produce seedlings from them.

Below are two photos of the area taken in April 2021 and the same area taken in March 2022.Note the rate of growth of the invasive species in that short time.

The West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority has also agreed to have the blackberries sprayed on the riverbank just under and to the north of the Apple Tree Rail Trail bridge. These weeds have also enjoyed the great growing season.

You may of noticed that we are no longer issuing a separate Blackspur Creek Wetlands Project newsletter. Given our current funding, the BSCW and Landcare news have considerable overlap. From now on we will incorporate it into our monthly Landcare newsletter. Thanks to Kate Walsh for all her work on this newsletter. We will incorporate our two mailing lists so that you do not miss out on any of our news.

Don’t forget our (other project) Revegetation Field day.

Bookings are being accepted so don’t miss out!

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