2020 July Newsletters

Newsletter July 10th

Hello everyone,

Working Bee

The working group for Rockleigh have set aside the first week-end in August (1st and 2nd) for a working bee. There are a number of tasks to be done:

  1. Many plants need weeding
  2. Many corflute guards need to be replaced with larger mesh guards
  3. False caper and box thorns need to be sprayed

I hope to camp  on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and would welcome any others who wish to stay a night or two. A long drop loo will be in place.

The plan is to work on the Saturday, official start 10am, and leave Sunday free to bird watch, botanise, walk or whatever, but you are welcome to come on the Saturday just to be social, at a distance of course, or just to enjoy the environment. If you arrive before 10am, meet at the current campsite for a cuppa, or go to the old campsite where much of the work will be done.

Equipment that would be useful if you have it is:- Back pack sprayer, mattock, trowel, hammer, pliers and gloves. We hope to see you there.

Grant

Largely due to some excellent record keeping by Andrew Wurst, we have won a $5,000 grant to fund Andrew’s and John’s travel for soursob and fox control as well as to purchase 3 motion sensitive cameras.

This Sunday

On Sunday 12th July, Friends of Private Bushland are holding an outing which starts at our Rockleigh property at 10am. Bren Lay will outline the history of the place, talk about its geology and vegetation and lead a walk if required. All welcome.

Fees

As of this morning, 25 members have paid their annual fee, some with a generous donation. Many thanks to you all and a reminder to everyone else that the $100 is now due. Payment details are repeated here.

( Please note: I try to send an email acknowledgement of all payments so you know it has been received. For those on ordinary mail I send the acknowledgement as a note on the next newsletter.)

Methods of payment are in the emailed newsletter.

All the best Graham

Newsletter July 1

The recent news from KI about bandicoots and dunnarts is interesting and heartening as is the sale of lot 4, adjacent to our property, to KI Wildlife Network. The cat eradication on Dudley Peninsula is underway and it will be great to get some information on how it is going.

Reports from the western end of the island indicate pockets of unburnt vegetation harbouring a variety of birds and mammals. The problem is insufficient food to see them through to the recovery of the burnt area. Some translocation of species (eg emu wrens) is being done (and cats removed!)

In the meantime, Rockleigh has received a reasonable amount of rain and some of the eucalypts are flowering brilliantly.

 

Several things have happened at Rockleigh over the last few months. Bren has engaged a well qualified “deer stalker” to sort out our deer problem. He walks around on a moon lit night but has so far seen none although he has reported many kangaroos. Nic and Angela have solved the silting up of the pipes under the ford. They have also planted out a variety of seedlings raised from seed collected on the property. If you are visiting Rockleigh you will notice that the wood pile at the campsite is very neat, also thanks to Nic. Angela, Nic, Peter Vincent. Marg Brown and I have also weeded a number of the seedlings planted out over the last few years.

There is much more weeding to be done. More substantial guards are required for many of the trees and shrubs. False caper is once again appearing on the roadside and on our southern edge. There are a few box thorn bushes that need to be removed. So there is plenty of work to be done with the possibility of a weekend working bee in the next month or two

 

 

 

In the Tothills, John and Andrew have just completed the spraying of sour sobs and Andrew is now able to relieve John of that annual task in the future. Our thanks to you both.

 

Now before I forget, the main purpose of this newsletter is to remind you that the annual maintenance fee of $100 is now due. With Covid19 and the issues involved, this could be a financial strain on some. Please let me know if this is the case

2020 February Newsletter

Greetings All,

After a successful watering day a few weeks ago at Rockleigh we have been fortunate to have received at least sufficient rain to dampen the soil and put some water in the creeks. Dodoneas that were hanging their leaves in thirsty depression a few weeks ago are standing tall and green. There is a tinge of green and your feet no longer “crunch” at every footstep.

The crimson chats and woodswallows seem to have departed but the rainbow bee-eaters are still around. A pair of white fronted chats, pipits, whiteface, 3 hooded robins and a group of yellow-rumped thornbills made up the ground feeding contingent on the far side of the creek.

For those of you who helped on the watering day you may recall that the guards on the trees hillside of the old camping ground were missing. Once again they were all gone, possibly due to the wind but in some cases certainly helped by the roos. Marg Brown and I watered them again, replaced the guards and placed dead branches around them to deter the roos. This method is used in Turkey where Marg visited a few years ago.

I spoke to the roo shooter for Rockleigh this morning and he reported seeing a koala on his last visit back in November. That is now 2 sightings of a koala on Rockleigh. I know some of you are very much against culling roos and none of us like the idea but see it as a necessity if we are going to maintain a healthy ecosystem. We had a permit to shoot 30 western grays and in their 2 visits the shooters managed to get half that number. From what we saw yesterday the population is still very healthy. However, we are left with the question of what to do about the feral deer on our property as the shooters never saw them.

A bit more veldt grass destruction was carried out around the current campsite which is looking remarkably veldt grass free until closer inspection. Persistence must eventually pay off.

Best wishes,

Graham

2020 January Newsletter

The Rockleigh watering day was very successful. There had been very few “deaths” as a result of the recent hot weather although some were distressed. With a workforce of 12 people, all the watering, and the removal of guards where necessary, had been accomplished by lunchtime. All in all it was an excellent day with the work accomplished, new people met, old acquaintances renewed and conversations had. Special thanks go to my brother for delivering 2000 litres of water and helping out on the day.

waterre

 

 

Capture

Many thanks to the Vincent siblings, and everyone else, for their untiring help on the day.

Thanks also to those of you who, for a variety of reasons, were unable to attend on the day but sent supportive emails. Much appreciated.

A final reminder to anyone wanting to comment on whether or not to change the Bushland Company structure, to please do so by Feb 14th.

best wishes

Graham

2019 July Newsletter

Since the company that became Bushland Conservation Pty Ltd was formed over 40 years ago many things have changed, including the cost of living and the value of land. We have two important documents that guide our Company. The first document is our Charter, a document that sets out our guiding philosophy and principles. The second is a formal Constitution, required by law under the Companies Act.

Our Charter, emphasising our fundamental principle, states “the sole object for which the company is established is to purchase and/or lease land in its natural state in order to secure the same from agricultural exploitation and to protect and preserve existing landscape, flora and fauna.” This is our fundamental guiding principle. We are not a regular company trading for profit.

At present Item 5 of our Charter states that we aim: “To seek no gain from the investment in the company other than maintaining the value of shareholder investment through linking the share price to the Consumer Price Index.” This CPI link was adopted by members at foundation and reaffirmed in 1991 and it is currently used to determine the value of our shares when they are sold and purchased.

We can no longer assume that CPI gives “fair value”. Legal advice we have received (advice that is in accordance with our Constitution) states that the price of a share should be fixed by the member selling the share, and should represent the “fair value” of the share. We have also been advised that the Company (Bushland Conservation Pty Ltd) must not itself value the shares. 

So how should a seller value their shares? Apart from our dedicated and generous shareholders our only asset is the land. There is no official schema for valuing land held for environmental heritage.  As we cannot use it to produce an income it could be said to have little dollar value. Or it could be argued that our land is of exceptionally high value because it is rare and because natural habitat is ever diminishing.

A guide to fair value could be gained from recent similar sales of heritage land. In this case the value depends on the condition of the trees and scrub, the amount of restorative and maintenance work required and the convenience of the land for visiting and camping etc.  There are some of our members who have knowledge of recent such sales but these are not common and not definitive. In reality, as in any other market transaction, shares are only worth what a buyer is willing to pay. So a member who is selling shares needs to set what they think is a fair asking price and negotiate with the buyer from there.

The Directors therefore strongly believe that it is essential to rescind the CPI link. At the 2019 AGM on October 12th we will, as an interim measure, propose that our Company NOT adjust the share price according to the CPI for the last financial year (+1.3%). We will set aside time for members to present their views concerning the general issue of the CPI link and the concept of the fair value of our shares. Our present intention is to convene a special General Meeting of our Company at a time and place to be decided at the AGM. At this special meeting the Directors will propose that the link between the CPI and our share price be abolished.

We ask that you think about these issues with some urgency. We hope that members will contact our Secretary (Graham White- email gandkwhite@iprimus.com.au  or mobile 0404 038 852 or land-line 8370 7951) to share your thoughts.

2018 October AGM newsletter

The weather was fine, the campsite a delight, the company excellent and the AGM went well too. 17 shareholders attended and it was quite inspirational to have Doreen Matheson there. Julia, Daniel and Brodie from our youngest generation took the initiative to supply us with afternoon tea during the meeting. Well done and thank you. We had 2 visitors camp with us and 6 guests on the day.

The Chair, Bill Blessing, welcomed all present and spoke briefly on the recent death of Jeanine Vincent who has been a strong supporter of our Company and a dedicated environmentalist for many years.

Our first guest, Karleah Berris, attending with her family, spoke of the planned cat eradication program for Dudley Peninsula. She demonstrated how the “Felixer 3” trap worked – basically it uses video recognition software and 4 sensors to determine if an animal is a cat. If it is, it is hit by a globule of 1080 poison which it will then ingest by grooming itself and consequently die. At this stage no poison is being used and the software is being tested and upgraded to improve its recognition rate as it currently would only target 50% of cats which approach it.

Our second guest was Pat Hodgens who spoke about “Land for Wildlife” and their work in trying to establish the number and distribution of the KI Dunnart and the Southern Brown Bandicoot on KI. He is very passionate about protecting these animals and keen to set camera traps on our property to determine whether they are present though it is not expected. Permission to do this was granted.

Bill Blessing and David Smyth were elected as Directors and retiring Director, Janet Pedler, was thanked for her valuable input over the many years she has served on the Board.

The property reports highlighted the lack of rain on the mainland, the excellent turnout for Bill Matheson’s memorial planting day at Rockleigh and that TERN (Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network) had revisited the Tothills and had permission to set up sites on our KI property. One of our KI shareholders, Dr Richard Glatz, will meet with them when they visit. One worrying aspect for the management of our KI property which was mentioned by John in his recent newsletter is the tracks being forged by trail bike riders.

The next AGM will be held at Rockleigh on a date yet to be determined. This will be followed on the Sunday with an open day to which neighbours and other environmental groups will be invited.

Graham

AGM report

The recent AGM (7/10/2017) in the Tothills was a great success with 25 people at the meeting and a really good feeling of friendship and “belonging”. Seven people camped on the Friday and they were joined by a further five on the Saturday night. Some interesting conversations were had amid the smoke around the campfire.

John took those interested on short walks to see orchids and to investigate the differences in the two Pultenaea species and many other species came under scrutiny as well.

Our guest speaker for the day was Denzel Murfet, Company member and botanist extraordinaire. Denzel outlined the history behind the establishment of the website saseedbank.com.au. He then talked, with the use of charts, on how to navigate through the website for the information it holds. After 5 years of dedicated work by some very keen volunteer botanists (including Denzel), the website now has some 2800 of SA’s 3500 plants listed with detailed information/ photographs of each, maps of distribution and links to other useful botanical sites. This site is well worth a look.

New members, though absent, were welcomed to the Company by the Chair (Bill Blessing) who later gave a brief summary of events over the past year. Among things mentioned were the death of Bill Matheson and the generousity of the family in naming Bushland the beneficiary of any donations (which came to $845); the possibility of fossil footprints on our KI property after they were found 2 km west of Mouth Flat; the successful working bee held at Rockleigh and the completion of the update of the management plans (though still at the printers).

In his property report for the Tothills, John mentioned the completion of a cull of kangaroos and the need for a further cull as numbers are still damagingly high. The Rockleigh report included information on the memorial planting for 2018 in Bill Matheson’s honour. We have had an excellent response to the appeal for growers, many thanks to all concerned, and hope for an equally good response next year when a working bee will be called to plant the trees and shrubs.

In general business the Board wanted to inform the meeting of its decision to set a minimum entry into the Company of $10,000 when a spare shareholding is used to split a large sale, but otherwise the entry price is that of the shareholding being sold. The Board also gained the endorsement of the AGM for the following

. “that access will not be granted to Bushland properties for commercial ventures except under exceptional circumstances as approved by the Board”.

This motion had arisen as a result of Bushland being approached by a private concern for permission to film a commercial at Black Point and was arrived at after much discussion.

July 2017- Working Bee at Rockleigh notes from Graham and David

Weather wise it was a miserable weekend with very strong winds and quite a bit of rain. Cosequently, campers were at a minimum but much was achieved.

On the Saturday we had 11 people present, Bren and Elizabeth, John and Reiko,    John S, David, Tom R., Tom B., Barbara, Margaret and me.

The overgrown track leading to the old campsite was cleared and the track itself repaired. (The problem with the track is water running down and eroding it. Banks have been formed to direct the water away from the track.) Lots of false caper was pulled up from the roadside and in our property nearby and the northern fence line was repaired and kangaroo “runs” blocked where they gave access to sheep. Some 40 odd plants were put in the ground, some guards removed and others replaced. Several of the young Casuarinas had been damaged by kangaroos as they grew above the smaller guards. Larger guards, those made by Ross several years ago, were put over these. Lots of veldt grass plants were removed at and near the campsite. This is an area where the veldt grass is not so prolific and provides an opportunity to manually remove it. Marg’s wish is that everyone who goes to Rockleigh makes a point of removing at least 6 plants in this area each visit. The campsite area is looking really good with native grasses now predominant.

Andrew had 14 Accacia argyrophylla plants which we put in on the sandy rise at the back of the old camp site. We spent the rest of the morning removing the remaining false caper plants from the roadside.

Many thanks to all who helped out. Despite not being able to do the spraying of the Veldt grass as planned because of the inclement conditions, I think everyone was pleased with just how much was accomplished.

Graham

e-fasciculosa

Figure 1: E. fasciculosa (pink gum)

 

Those of us who helped at the working bee at Rockleigh on the wintry weekend of July 29-30 were well rewarded by seeing the results of all the hard work that had gone before. In particular, the sustained revegetation of the previously cleared cropping land along the road is now a delight. The range of species planted over many years, their recovery from the bushfire, and the appearance of spontaneous seedlings show how worthwhile it has been. Two standouts were eucalypts in full bloom, the pink-flowered blue gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp.leucoxylon), and the white-flowered pink gum (E. fasciculata). The blue gum drops a carpet of pink blossoms from mature trees along the roadside just to the east of our block, and it is great that it is natural in the area. Such coloured forms are sold in nurseries as E. leucoxylon ‘Rosea’. The pink gum is close to the northern limit of its range at Rockleigh. It is “almost” a South Australian endemic, with a few stands in the Little Desert of western Victoria, just over the border from the South East population. Its name E. fasciculata comes from the bundles (“fascicles”) of terminal flowers so prominent when it is in flower (see photo). The lack on anthers on the outer long stamens is also characteristic of this species.

David

pittosporum-2

Figure 2 : Pittosporium ‘invading’  the veldt grass

2017 July

As many of you will know, Bill Matheson, one of our greatly respected shareholders passed away in May. Bill was instrumental in the management of our Rockleigh property and a Director for 14 years. Our thoughts and best wishes go to Doreen and family.

John Smyth recently organized the filling in of the well near the ruin at Webb Gap in the Tothills. The well was collapsing and a potential risk for youngsters in particular. Our thanks to shareholder Greg Schmall and son Jared for carrying out the work.

2017 February newsletter

 I hope you have all been coping with our new weather system. While it has been excellent for some people regarding crops and hay some I know have had their hands full coping with fly strike on sheep and clearing fallen trees. Rockleigh has had above average rainfall which has possibly helped furnish us with new weeds, certainly helped the veldt grass to a bumper season and hopefully helped our seedlings and established vegetation through the summer. Whether the weather had anything to do with it or not I don’t know but a koala made a brief appearance on the property back on 20th December which adds another species to the mammal list.

The Rockleigh Management Group has been busy. We have carried out a trial mistletoe removal taking all the mistletoe from 5 E. porosa and 5 E. fasciculosa trees, all very heavily infested. Five similarly infested trees of both varieties have been marked and will be observed as a control. There are many reasons for not doing this and some previous trials (not on our property) have proved ineffective, but such is the prevalence of mistletoe we thought it worth a trial. We have also poisoned the veldt grass in the slashed area north of the ford. We have done this in a series of blocks trialling 2 chemicals at different concentrations. The other slashed area (below the old campsite) will be treated in winter as recommended by the chemical manufacturers. How we go about revegetating these blocks will depend largely on the outcome of the poisoning. Seeds have been collected of various native grasses and suitable plants for revegetating.

The Tothills have also received good rains. Thankfully fences at creek crossings have not been affected but John has been kept busy keeping other fences clear of fallen trees and branches. John also successfully applied for a grant from the Northern and Yorke NRM’s Burra to Kapunda project which covered the costs of volunteers’ travel and fencing materials when 1.2 km of fencing on the western side had to be upgraded.

The grant also included money for soursob and fox control. An appreciable part of the grant was donated back to the company by our generous volunteers and shareholders and this can hopefully be used to reduce John’s work load.

The update of the Tothill Management Plan is near completion and will hopefully be delivered to you as an email attachment in April.

The AGM Weekend

The Al1120528GM went very well with the weather being very kind until late Sunday morning when it blew us out of the place. Eight people camped on Friday and Saturday nights, 14 helped out at the working bee and 25 attended the meeting.

A display of photos courtesy of Bren and Elizabeth Lay and Kerry White showed various aspects of Rockleigh taken before and after the 2013 fire. Kerry  threw in a mystery photo of several white splodges in the creek with a prize for the best explanation of the situation. There were many interesting ideas but the actual scene was the Adelaide Hunt Club’s hounds on an outing with their brightly clad followers. And “No”, they should not have been there and “Yes”, the Hunt Club did receive a follow up letter.

 

 The working bee group managed to remove a large number of guards and weed many young plants while Bren, Elizabeth and Marg found a couple of pre Bushland photo points and re-photographed the scenes. This very interesting comparison between 1997 and 2016 will hopefully appear in the revamped Management Plan.

Our guest speaker at the AGM was Grace Hodder who is doing her PhD on diamond firetails in the Mt Lofty Ranges and has 2 sites on our Rockleigh property. She gave a very interesting talk on her methods and possible findings. Grace is investigating the finches food sources and how this affects their survival. Unfortunately many firetails at Rockleigh do not survive the winter and her study suggests at this stage that by encouraging native perennials we may be able to help them.

Grace addressing the AGMl1120580


 

  l1120567Our Relaxed Chairperson, Bill

                                                                                             

We have a new director in Steve White who has a lot of practical experience in environmental matters . He replaces Tom who has given Bushland valuable service and will no doubt rejoin the Board at some future stage. Marg Brown, the other retiring director, was re-elected.

In an endeavour to increase the participation of members in working bees we are calling on anyone with an interest in helping to send me their name and phone number (mobile if possible) so we can call people up at very short notice to inform them of a working bee. Possible options at this stage are seed collection, removing guards and / or weeding within guards, summer watering and fence repair.

After the AGM John attempted to clear debris from the fence where it crosses the creek on the eastern boundary but due to the depth of water was unable to do it all.Meanwhile another group tackled the blocked pipes under the ford. With the help of much shoveling and a plumbers snake both were cleared with a consequent large drop in the water level over night. This will limit erosion of the ford from over flowing water.

On the Sunday morning 8 of us tackled the invasion of False Caper on our southern boundary. It was a much bigger job than anticipated and took a good 15 volunteer hours with the north wind increasing all the time. Many thanks to all involved, particularly Denzel who made a very early start and to the youngsters, Kimberly and Brodie, who worked tirelessly throughout.

 l1120542 Rockleigh -Looking good .