Friday, August 25, 2006

Fighting the Flag

At this time of year Cottesloe Coastcare volunteers spend many hours carefully hand weeding at our various project sites. Environmental weeds and garden plant escapees are huge problems in remnant bush sites, especially in metropolitan areas. Weeds can quickly over take the local native species, become dominant and local plant diversity can be lost forever. If you want more information on weeds click here to see the excellent Western Weeds website.
Dumping of garden rubbish in bushland and on the foreshore is diminishing but unfortunately it still happens. At Grant Marine Park in North Cottesloe we have virtually eliminated Blue Lupin and we are making excellent inroads with a garden weed escapee - white daisy or Michaelmas Daisy. We made a decision three years ago to have a 'No Tolerance Policy' towards the weed Pelargonium capitatum (rose pelargonium), but we still have a long way to go before we eliminate it from the area. Another weed which causes us lots of grief is Ferraria crispa commonly known as black flag. Frauke has written the piece below about black flag but as she and her husband Keith have set off to ride their bikes to Adelaide I will put this post up for her. I hope the winds continue in the right direction for Frauke and Keith!

Fighting the Flag
Above ground, it looks so innocuous – just another sword-shaped blade of grass? Nothing to worry about? You try to pull it out – it doesn’t come easily, it’s obviously well rooted. Then you dig around it, deeper into the soil – there, a solid, light-brown corm, like a small potato.
If you are lucky, it will still be attached to more corms – up to 12 hanging on underneath the first one, like pearls on a string! And each corm has the capacity of growing several healthy plants. And the strings of corms don’t just go vertically, they spread sideways, too – in some sandy patches you see a whole colony of them, neatly packed into the earth – hundreds of them. In evolutionary terms the columns of corms are thought to be half way between a corm and a rhizome (Du Plessis and Duncan 1989).

We have several patches in our dunes where this South African invader Ferraria crispa, or black flag has appeared – the worst possibly near the pathway at Mudurup Rocks where the use of a specific herbicide mix has not produced the result we were hoping for yet and has killed several of our indigenous coastal plants. The very smelly flowers attract flies. Black flag has found growing conditions here simply ideal and that it has developed vigorous growth patterns. In its home land it is an endangered species. Black flag is so successful here that it poses a real threat to our native plants – it kills them mercilessly and is extremely difficult to eradicate. It’s like a bulbous cancer with metastases in unexpected places, moving like a subterranean reptile.

A small group of Cottesloe Coastcarers has made a concentrated effort to fight the flag at Grant Marine Park – you may have seen them on their knees, unearthing bags and bags of corms, sieving shovel after shovel of sand – and after hours of hard work the ‘cleaned’ area looks pathetically small! Is it worth it? Will they conquer the aggressor? Have they saved some of our native battlers? Only time will tell.

To see more photos click here. You can click on any photo to enlarge it.

(Text by Frauke)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Cottesloe's local wildflowers

Today I had a walk along the Cottesloe foreshore to photograph the local plants that have started to flower since my last 'wildflowers' posting in July. Down on the beach, Carpobrotus virescens, commonly called pig face, was flowering in the sun with the silky grey leaves of Spinifex hirsutus or hairy spinifex behind it. Spinifex is an important grass on the beach as its long rope-like rhizomes help stabilise the foredunes. The yellow flowering pigface, Carpobrotus edulis is a South African species which has naturalised here.

I met two bobtails enjoying the sun. This young one, approximately 15cms long is only a couple of months old but a big sleepy lizard was also out in the sun, most probably after quite a few weeks asleep. Soon the bobtails will be actively on the lookout for a mate and this is when they often are killed by cars as they cross the roads.
Please keep and eye out for these beautiful lizards on the roads. The Grevillea preissii (thelemanniana) is a planted specimen but it is a local Cottesloe species.

At Grant Marine Park, Acacia lasiocarpa ( dune moses) is putting on its bright yellow show. Dune moses is a dense low shrub which only reaches a metre high. It has leaves not phyllodes and has small spines.

Along the dual-use path in South Cottesloe Myoporum insulare (boobiala) is flowering at present. A dense shrub with sweet smelling leaves which grows 2 to 3 m high. In summer the ripe, purple, succulent fruit are eaten by birds.

Last month I included pictures of both Spyridium globulosum (basket bush) and Hardenbergia comptoniana (native wisteria) but the native wisteria scrambling over the basket bush at Grant Marine Park in North Cottesloe looked so beautiful that I had to take another photo.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Don't forget CCA's website

Coastcare will continue to update our formal website - see the link at the top of this page - so that you can find out more about our group, our working bees and events, news, projects/funding and facts sheets.

On the home page is an application for membership to CCA. We are very grateful to our financial members who contribute to the administration costs each year - which are for postage, trailer registration and insurance for volunteers. Please join our enthusiastic gang if you can support our efforts in this way.
There are some great Coastal Fact Sheets on our website:

What bird is that?

Birds of the Leighton Peninsula is a new guide to the birds seen in Cottesloe, Mosman Park and Peppermint Grove. Cottesloe Coastcare worked with Birds Australia to produce the guide which describes and illustrates more than 45 different birds seen in our suburbs.

The guide is available free from the Grove Library as well as the council offices of Cottesloe, Peppermint Grove and Mosman Park.

Birds of the coast and ocean are covered as well as those found on the Swan River and its foreshore and in suburban backyards. A list of native plants that provide shelter and food for local birds is included as well as other hints on attracting birds to parks and gardens.

Some of the birds in the guide include:

Great Cormorant - the largest of the cormorants. It is wholly blackish with yellow throat patch and facial skin. They hunt in flocks. This beautifully detailed illustration is by local artist Pam Free.

Red-capped Parrot. Occasionally seen quietly feeding in trees or on the ground. They have a bill for extracting seeds from gum nuts.

Nankeen Kestrel is often seen hovering over dunes in search of insects, reptiles and small mammals.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Coastal conference Melbourne

I was very fortunate to attend the 2006 National Coast to Coast Conference in Melbourne in May. It was my first experience at a national conference and it was a fascinating and challenging experience for me. The conference papers are available on the Victorian Coastal Council's (fantastic) website.

There are interesting and thought provoking papers on the Seachange phenomenon, climate change, the process of rezoning the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the groundbreaking science of marine mapping, interesting thoughts towards NHT3 and very much more.
Other urban environmental volunteers may be interested to read Aidan Davison's polemic about 'urban nature' where he challenges us in our level of zealousness. This might be a basis for some comments on our blog?
I would like to mention that I received assistance towards my conference costs from the Swan Catchment Council (I am a community representative on the SCC's Coastal and Marine reference group) and the Conference organisers kindly paid my registration, with that of other volunteers from all over Australia.