Farm Chemical Users Course: Register now!

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Want to gain industry standard training in farm chemical use?

The City of Whittlesea is subsidising the cost  for rural residents to update or become accredited farm chemical users. The course and permit usually costs around $250 but is available here, for just $50.

In this two-day course join a network of local rural landowners and learn about:

  • Storage and handling
  • Pest identification
  • Modes of action
  • Label interpretation
  • Issues associated with chemical use
  • Formulation types
  • Weed and pest control application
  • Animal health
  • Transport and disposal
  • Preparation and clean up procedures
  • Recording procedures

By the completion of this course you will have the required Industry Quality Assurance Programs Training, necessary when applying for the Victorian Agriculture Chemical Users Permit (an ACUP is required for users of Schedule 7 and other Restricted Use Chemical Products).

Places are limited, so make sure to register via Eventbrite today!

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/farm-chemical-users-course-17th-24-june-tickets-34946130818

Terms & Conditions: This course is only available to City of Whittlesea residents. Attendees may be asked to provide proof of residency upon entry.

Full catering provided

For more information please contact Katherine Whittaker on (03) 9217 2147 or email Katherine.Whittaker@whittlesea.vic.gov.au

World Environment Day Event

Saturday 3 June, 10:30am  – 2:30pm

Location: Westfield Plenty Valley,  415 McDonalds Rd, Mill Park

Celebrate World Environment Day and join in on some fun family activities on offer at Westfield Shopping Centre. While you shop, learn about the environmental gems of Whittlesea. During this event there will be:

  • An interactive native animal show
  • Information and resources about how our beautiful native flora can bring birds to your garden and protect it from pests
  • Face painting: after you pat them, become a tawny frogmouth or blue tongue lizard
  • Information on where to see local highlights of our region and contacts for special interest groups
  • Giveaways

And much more!

For further information about this free event contact Nicola Vaughan on 9217 2560

“Farma El Divo” Fungi Finds by Beveridge landowner Jess Hayward

After falling in love with our Kinglake view and our rolling hills sunset, embarking on revegetation grants and hosting many a “land warming” BBQ, I’ve taken my eyes to the ground. And there, underneath fallen trees and within hidden fairy gardens I’ve found the amazing array of fungi on our 50 acre Beveridge property. With my trusty phone camera in hand, clever hashtags ready and a not too precious wardrobe to get down and dirty with these precious porcini, these photos have made the cut, both here for this blog post and some for our Instagram page @farmaeldivo.

Further still, after joining in the Fungi Foray with Whittlesea Council a few weekends ago, I’m even more excited to seek, find, share and perhaps even identify some of these spore producing gems.

My favourite’s are the tiny little fairy houses in bright yellows and oranges nestled amongst the blades of grass, starkly contrasted with the giant “sourdough” loaf as we named it, and the clam shell shaped beauties against the trees.

There is something really special about fungi that seems to ignite the inner child looking for fairies at the bottom of the garden.

I’m looking forward to finding more and more types to share, now with some extra knowledge, as the seasons change and the property flourishes.

 Jess Hayward

Land Owner Beverdige

You can follow Jess’ Instagram at @farmaeldivo

Calling All Future Leaders!

Applications are now open for the Our Catchment, Our Communities Leadership Development Grants. These grants provide an exciting opportunity to develop new leaders in integrated catchment management, and support the Victorian Government’s commitment to diversity in water leadership, Aboriginal inclusion, and innovation in catchment management. Grant recipients will receive up to $10,000 for travel, study, research or other forms of professional development in the categories of: Innovation, Aboriginal Leadership and Women in Leadership.

Your help in promoting these grants with your networks will ensure as many eligible Victorians as possible are given a chance to help shape the future of Integrated Catchment Management in Victoria.

Applications close next week on Wednesday 24 May 2017.

The application form and more information about these grants can be found at https://www.water.vic.gov.au/grants/leadership-development-grants.

The Skinks in Your Garden

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

Article by Suzi Duncan from Eden Park

I have large numbers of skinks of all sizes on my rural property. In particular, there are two specific areas, one quite small, that are designated areas for frogs and reptiles.

This gives me many opportunities to observe the behaviour of the resident skinks. Their behaviour can range from comical and curious to timid and even very aggressive. The aggression can be within a species or between species.

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

Many of them are so curious that if you sit down they will actually come out just to check you out. A Grass Skink (Lampropholis guichenoti) walked up on my hand while I was sitting on the ground. Or if you put your finger near to where they are peeping out from a gap in old sleepers, they will come and touch your finger. They become very used to having a camera put right up close to them. They also love nothing better than to literally “kick back” and sunbake. If it is a cold but sunny day then it is a just a matter of finding a notch in an old piece of wood, especially an old sleeper, and kicking back in that protected spot  to absorb the warmth. You will also see two lying beside each other, one of them with an arm (sorry leg) on the other.

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

In the late afternoon they spend their time in a notch or crack in wood with just their head showing.

They never cease to amaze with how fast they can move and how high or far they can jump, especially when it means catching a small moth to eat.

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

On the other hand these beautiful gentle critters can fight so aggressively that you would be certain that neither one could survive. When it comes to aggression, size does not come into it. If a smaller skink wants to attack a larger one then it will approach from the rear run up the back of the larger skink and attack from that position.

Last week I observed a skink carrying another skink of similar size in it’s mouth. Going on the limpness and the eyes of the skink being carried, I am guessing it was dead.

On the weekend I observed yet a new behaviour. One skink was paddling/waving its back legs in the air above its body, while being watched by another similar sized skink. This behaviour went on for a good five minutes. I have not been able to determine what this behaviour meant.

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Photo: Suzi Duncan

Victorian biodiversity plan released

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The Victorian Government has recently released its 20-year biodiversity plan `Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037’. This plan aims to stop the decline of our native plants and animals, and improve our natural environment so it is healthy, valued and actively cared for.

The plan establishes a long-term vision and goals, including that by 2037:

  • All Victorians are connecting with nature;
  • Five million Victorians are acting to protect the natural environment;
  • All Victorian Government organisations that manage environmental assets contribute to environmental-economic accounting;
  • No vulnerable or near-threatened species will have become endangered;
  • All critically endangered and endangered species will have at least one option available for being conserved ex situ or re-established in the wild (where feasible under climate change) should they need it; and
  • We have achieved a net gain of the overall extent and condition of habitats across terrestrial, waterway and marine environments.

An implementation plan to accompany Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 is in development and due for release later this year.

Link to the plan: https://www.environment.vic.gov.au/biodiversity/biodiversity-plan

Roadside Woody Weed Control

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Council is currently undertaking roadside woody weed control along environmentally significant roadsides this month. Target roads are:

  • Cameron Rise, Beveridge
  • Holts Rd, Whittlesea
  • Bruces Creek Rd, Whittlesea
  • Wildwood Rd, Whittlesea
  • Glenburnie Rd, Whittlesea
  • Humevale Rd, Humevale
  • Gingles Rd, Humevale
  • Scrubby Creek Rd, Humevale
  • Jacks Creek Rd, Humevale
  • Coombs Rd, Kinglake West

Target weeds include Pine (small trees), Sweet Pittosporum, Non-indigenous Wattles (see image above of Cootamundra Wattle on Cameron Rise), Cotoneaster, Hawthorn, Broom, Prunus.

If you know of any additional roadsides that have woody weed issues, feel free to contact Mark Williams on 9217-2471 or mark.williams@whittlesea.vic.gov.au.

Upcoming Event: FUNGI FORAY

You are invited to join Geoff Lay from the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria for a guided walk and talk on the fascinating world of fungi.

Fungi are one of the most diverse biological groups on earth. They are critical for the growth of most Australian plants by forming relationships with plants and making nutrients more readily available to the plants. They also play a crucial ecosystem role in breaking down organic matter and returning nutrients to the soil.

We’ll learn about the vast range of fungi that exists in Whittlesea, from the large and easy to observe, to the tiny and delicate, and maybe ones you’ve never noticed before.

This will be an outdoor event so dress appropriately. Light morning tea will be provided.

Date:  Sunday 7 May 2017

Time:  9:30am – 12pm

LocationWhittlesea Community Activity Centre (57 Laurel St, Whittlesea)

RSVP  Fungi Foray – Eventbrite

For further information contact Council’s Sustainable Land Management Officer, Mark Williams, on 9217 2471 or email mark.williams@whittlesea.vic.gov.au.

An event flyer is available here

Life In a Box

RonLit

Sunday 26th March 2017 starting at 4pm

Strath Creek Hall, Pioneer Reserve, Strath Creek

Strath Creek Landcare’s Ron Litjens is well known in the Flowerdale/Strath Creek/Yea area for his entertaining, quirky, but informative presentations on a range of nature topics, including Powerful Owls, Rakali and, his pet subject, insects. Alias ronlit, he is a regular contributor to the Focus on Fauna blog which has a large following.

So, with limited detail divulged, but an assurance that you won’t be disappointed, come along and prepare to be surprised, delighted and educated by a passionate speaker.

Light refreshments provided afterwards.

$2 donation appreciated.

If you plan to come please contact Laurie on 5780 1225 or email: focusonfauna@gmail.com

Whittlesea’s Australasian Bat Night

The City of Whittlesea invites you to their 2017 Bat Night. Bat expert Robert Bender will present on the fascinating world of bats, guiding the group on a short walk amongst the surrounding River Red Gums and using bat detectors to try to locate some!

A door prize of a bat box will be available to take home for one lucky person. All children will be given bat masks and a bat colouring page to take home.

On the night, please wear appropriate clothing for the weather and bring a torch for the short walk. Book in advance to secure your place and for catering purposes (light supper provided).

Date:                Friday 21 April 2017

Time:                7 pm – 9 pm

Location:         Tuttle Recreation Reserve, 525 Epping Road, Wollert (next to Wollert CFA)

RSVP:                Whittlesea Bat Night—Eventbrite

For further information contact Council’s Biodiversity Planner, on 9217 2025 or email ruth.marr@whittlesea.vic.gov.au

Photo taken by John Harris of Wildlife Experiences