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Black Spur Creek Wetlands Project (BSCW) - Update 27

28 November 2021 by Sue Miles, NTVLC group president.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of these lands and waters.

Currently CPB is filling up the eastern side of the bridge over the Tarwin River (near Minns Road) with rock and soil. As you can see in the photo the work road has been called Cumming Highway as a mark of respect for Eric Cumming who spent many years developing the Rail trail for us all to use.

CPB is currently installing the first beams for the bridges over the Tarwin River, and hope to install the beams for the second bridge (the one you can see from the rail trail) in early 2022.

In the next few months CPB will also be working to pour the concrete decks and install the barriers for the new bridges, finish building the retaining walls, complete works to tie in the new road to the existing Highway.

CPB has advised that water quality monitoring shows the water quality of the river is in good health. Targeted fish monitoring for the Australian Grayling will occur during April 2023 and April 2024, upstream and downstream of the project site.

The Victorian Government lockdowns have made our bird monitoring groups smaller but we still have been able to run with a few dedicated volunteers.

The BSCW Project has been monitoring birds for approximately 2 years at the 3 Great Southern Rail Trail bridges south of Koonwarra. It is a lot of fun and even if you cannot identify many birds you are all welcome. It takes approximately 2 hours to do 3 X 20 minute bird surveys from the bridges and the walk to and from the Koonwarra Recreation ground where many of us park our cars. Anyone is welcome to join us. We will not be meeting in December however as our next birding outing is to the Meeniyan Wetlands bird hide. Normal monitoring resumes in January.

Find the monthly event on the calendar on this webpage

Currently as you leave the Recreation Ground, many of the native flora are in flower, and there were heaps of smaller birds flying around. Trigger plants have been flowering for the past month, as well as the Kangaroo Apples, and the native raspberry. The Acacia trees have just had a burst of new foliage and the dark and light green makes a pretty show.

Last week the busy little Superb Fairy Wrens (the females are brown) were everywhere and a cheeky Grey Fantail was catching the insects and a Grey Shrike-thrush was calling. This was in spite of the heavy equipment working just a short distance down the track.

At the Black Spur Creek bridge, some of the willows have been treated and have now died and this will allow the creek to run more freely. The water was up and there were the usual ducks, some Eurasian Coots swimming near the Tarwin River but it was surprising at how many small birds were calling in the surrounding shrub. The larger birds were not around.

Walking to the middle bridge we stopped and looked for a platypus as we have heard of several sightings in the past few weeks. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Further along I heard approximately 6 Pobblebonk frogs serenading the world. Their loud Bonk sound is hard to miss. A White Faced Heron was neatly camouflaged on the edge of the swamp.

The Apple Tree bridge (the apple tree appears to have no fruit on it this year) is always busy with large and small birds, if you just take the time to observe. Just past the river on the southern side is an old tree covered in blackberries. Over the weekend I saw around 12 Red Browed Finches flitting in an out of the blackberries, several New Holland Honey eaters, a pair of Blackbirds who probably had a nest in under the old tree – they all love this prickly cover. A pair of Sulphur Crested Cockatoo’s were calling overhead. On the other side of the bridge were several Wood ducks, and a family of Eurasian Coots with 3 babies. Landcare members had heard a Sacred Kingfisher calling but on Saturday it was sitting up in the old dead Acacia tree.

In the last Update we showed you the Black swans nesting by the Rail Trail underpass. Unfortunately, several days later they moved on and we haven't seen them since.

We are also extremely disappointed and frustrated that our application for Gippsland Transport Environmental Projects – Pilot Program (GTEP Pilot) 2021 funding to restore the Apple tree wetlands area of the Blackspur Creek Wetland project is still in limbo with no still no notification of the outcome 6 months from the advised date. It seems the grant has been withdrawn - although we have had no word.

We, and a lot of stakeholders went to a great deal of trouble to put together an awesome project at very short notice and it was to be completed within a year (from the putative June grant announcement). This project involved taking out the weeds and re-vegetating the riverbanks between the old and new South Gippsland Highways. During this wet spring the weeds have taken off due to the great growing season and we are now a season behind on the weed control. In the application we applied to replant the area and as we had to order plants in June/July it is now too late for this season. We will look for alternate funding sources as the work is very necessary.