During the past 12 months there have been occasional sightings of blue wrens in Glebe – always around St Johns Rd and Jarocin Ave – and it is likely that they have flown from the campus of the University of Sydney. Our suburb is fortunate in having numerous pocket parks in addition to the major foreshore parks and we now have five bushcare groups that are regularly planting wren-friendly native flora and working on the maintenance of these special areas of biodiversity; over 40 such events were held in Glebe over the past year. Each bushcare group (including the recently formed Ferry Rd group) is represented on the subcommittee, which met on seven occasions during the year and has ten members. We congratulated Judy Christie, convenor of the Friends of Orphan School Creek Bushcare Group and a consultant to the subcommittee, on receiving an award as the Overall 2015 NSW Environmental Educator of the Year by then NSW Chapter of the Australian Association for Environmental Education. Sadly, Jan Craney, a much loved foundation member and former convenor of the subcommittee died in June.

After a campaign by local residents over the past six years, in May the City replaced the grass on either side of the entrance to Glebe Town Hall with native small-bird-friendly flora. In July, the City finished establishing the beautiful and impressive biodiversity garden in John Street Reserve with the planting of native flora, and the installation of protective fences and a spectacular blue-wren themed bird bath.

Superb Blue Fairy Wren (image: Ian Sanderson)
Superb Blue Fairy Wren (image: Ian Sanderson)

The Society’s third annual spring bird survey commenced at Paddy Gray Reserve in Hereford St at 6.45am on Sunday, 27 September 2015 with 18 enthusiastic birders (including two children and Sophie Golding, Urban Ecology Coordinator, City of Sydney) as we divided into small teams to indentify and count birds in seven of Glebe’s parks. The best part of the survey was unmistakably hearing the twittering of blue-wrens in the hedges of Jarocin Ave, and afterwards we all gathered for a well-earned breakfast at Esca, a café in Glebe Point Rd. Our next survey will be on Sunday 25 September – see p.4 of this Bulletin for further details.

The subcommittee continued an annual talk about biodiversity issues affecting our suburb. On Tuesday 24 May 2016, Professor Simon Griffith, from Macquarie University spoke on “The house sparrow in Australia: Lessons from an introduced bird” at Benledi to 30 members of the Society and their friends. Sparrows were introduced into the east coast capital cities during the 1860s and have become widely distributed along the entire eastern part of Australia. They thus have a role as a useful sentinel species (“canary in the coal mine”); any alteration in their numbers, distribution or overall health can provide insights into the effects of change in the environment. For unknown reasons, the sparrow population in Sydney is in decline but it may be that the increasing numbers of aggressive noisy miners (related to a proliferation in their food source provided by the extensive planting of nectar producing flowers including the new hybrid varieties of Grevilleas and Callistemons) have driven sparrows from their usual urban habitat.

Society members are always welcome to attend meetings of the subcommittee and to join a bushcare group – please contact us by e-mail (bluewrens@glebesociety.org.au) if you would like to help.