December 2023 Newsletter

There has been some welcome rains to freshen up our properties. The vegetation is responding well and will hopefully maintain its growth through what was expected to be a hot, dry summer. Fortunately the weather was fine for the Annual General Meeting at our Tothill Ranges property on 14 October. There was a good turn out from members and friends and all business was successfully concluded.
The major property activities of the company were again focused on Rockleigh. The exclusion fence has now been completed with pleasing results. Mowing and spraying of the veldt grass dominated areas within the exclosure have also been completed, and the tube stock plants are growing well in preparation for the 2024 planting season. Elsewhere, Andrew Wurst has had some success with his reptile project at the Tothills property (see below).

Property News
NVHA Grant Re-vegetation Project
The key infrastructure component of the project has now been completed with the construction of the 1.54 km fence, enclosing an area of 13 hectares. Our fencing contractors, Ron and Fiona Dunstan, have done an excellent job and the exclosure should be secure from herbivore pests for many years to come.

Mowing and spraying of substantial areas of veldt grass within the exclosure have also been completed, although it will probably take several years of persistent action to get this weed under control. Two thousand plants are now being grown ready for the 2024 planting season using seeds collected locally and Banksia seedlings harvested from the property.
In addition to the 10,000 plants being planted as part of the 3 year grant programme, it will be interesting to see how the existing native vegetation within the exclosure responds, without the substantial pressure from pest herbivores. There will still be plenty of opportunity for volunteers to participate in the project through planting, weed control and watering activities over the next 3 years.

Biodiversity Links Project Monarto to Tungkillo

Further to the October 2023 Newsletter, the 1000 plants being grown by Bushland Conservation on contract to Second Nature Conservancy (previously GWLAP) are also coming on well. These will be planted at Rockleigh, outside of the exclosure, in the 2024 planting season.

Revegetation from 1990s
Bushland Conservation had a successful direct seeding re-vegetation program in the 1990s on what was a paddock at the entrance to the Rockleigh property. It is heartening to see the prolific bird-life making use of the flowering eucalyptus and under-storey, including honeyeaters, parrots, thornbills and wrens as well as a family of nesting choughs and extensive echidna scratchings. Interestingly, a recent article in Australian Birdlife indicated that the White Winged Chough is closely related to Birds-of-Paradise. Choughs are an entertaining bird and well worth taking the time to observe. The new habitat is a testament to the foresight and efforts of those involved in this re-vegetation project.

Swamp Wallaby and Koala
Ron and Fiona found a swamp wallaby on the property, the first record, while constructing the fence. This is probably a long term escapee but an interesting visitor nevertheless. And Graham White, on one of his many working days on Rockleigh, recently heard the unmistakable grunting of a koala, an infrequent visitor to the property.

Feral Pests
Ron Dunstan is also our contract shooter for the Tothills property. While at Rockleigh he installed a camerato check on deer numbers based on significant evidence of their presence. Unfortunately the camera has confirmed large numbers, with 7 deer in one photo. As a landholder, Bushland Conservation has a responsibility under the Landscape South Australia Act to destroy feral deer on its properties. Ron has now been engaged to reduce pest numbers, including foxes and cats.

Tothill Ranges
The property welcomed an influx of members and friends for the AGM, with some taking the opportunity to camp and explore the area. Andrew Wurst continues to be active with the camera surveillance (unfortunately confirming the continued presence of deer, see below) and with his Worm Lizard project. No Worm Lizards yet but he did find 4 species of reptiles on a recent inspection including, Boulenger’s Morethias (Morethia boulengeri), Tawny dragons (Ctenophorus decresii), Bougainville’s Slider ( Lerista bougainvillii) and Mallee Black-headed Snake (Parasuta spectabilis). In addition, he also managed to find a Marbled Gecko (Christinus marmoratus) sheltering in a possum box.

Kangaroo Island
The Kangaroo Island property is in good condition and continues to be essentially self-managed under the watchful eye of our Kangaroo Island based members. The feral cat eradication program is continuing to achieve results and the occasional weed infestations are being treated.

Company News
2023 AGM
The AGM was well attended by nearly 30 members and friends. After a welcome from the chair, attendees listened to an interesting talk by our guest speaker Matt Heard, an ecologist with the NPWS. All business was successfully concluded including member approval of the resolution for the board to negotiate with the Talyala owners on the transfer of this property to Bushland Conservation.
A substantial number of members took the opportunity to camp on the property and explore the area.
David Smyth led a visit to the nearby Hester’s Heritage Scrub exclosure to inspect the fence design and to view the significant impact on the native vegetation by excluding herbivore pests.

2024 AGM
The 2024 Annual General Meeting will be held on our Kangaroo Island Property on Saturday 5 October.
Members are reminded to book the ferry early. More details will be provided closer to the time.

Annual Fees
Thank you to those that have already paid the annual fee and particularly to those who have given additional donations. The fees are essential to the running of Bushland Conservation.
The annual fee is now overdue and there are still a substantial number of members yet to pay. Can
you please pay your fee now.

Best wishes,
Peter Vincent