By Andrew Wood, Blue Wren Subcommittee, for Bulletin 7 of 2020 (September 2020)

The Subcommittee has 13 members and met in person on four occasions during the year. The volunteers of our bushcare/landcare groups in Glebe continued to work to value, retain and enhance biodiversity in Glebe and Forest Lodge, and its bays and foreshores, for current and future generations. Not surprisingly COVID-19 impacted on our activities in the second half of the year. We did not hold our regular meetings, our autumn party (to which all our bushcare volunteers are invited) and the award of the Craney Biodiversity Grants to our local preschools and schools were cancelled, and the annual biodiversity lecture was postponed. Further, no planting days were organised by our buschcare volunteers from mid-March until July, when they recommenced in Orphan School Creek Park under the COVID-safe rules set-up by the City.

Ernest Pedersen Reserve (photo: Phil Young)

In August last year the City agreed to hold a public meeting at St Helen’s Community Centre, chaired by Mr Joel Johnson, Manager, City Greening and Leisure to consider the City’s plans for the upgrading of Ernest Pederson Reserve, and Palmerston Avenue Steps and Sarah Peninton Reserve. The plans for the latter pocket parks were generally supported by the local bushcare group and residents, and work is now in progress on the upgrade. For Ernest Pederson Reserve, however, the plans were vigorously opposed as they did not take into consideration either the passive uses of the Reserve or its history as the original front garden of the adjacent house, Rothwell Lodge. In response to a request from the Society, the City agreed to set-up a Working Group to redesign the proposals for the Reserve. The Group was chaired by Chris Thomas, Manager Design, City of Sydney and the other members were Helen Rogers, Design Manager, City of Sydney, local Ferry Rd residents and Ferry Road Bushcare Group members (Jenna Reed Burns and Iain Gibson) and Andrew Wood represented the Glebe Society. The revised plans, based on the original design of Rothwell Lodge’s garden, were placed on public exhibition and an onsite meeting was held between the City’s planners and residents. There was overall agreement that the new plans were a major improvement upon the initial proposals. The Society also supported the revised plans for the Reserve as they recognised the unique heritage value of the site and its principal use as a passive park which could be quietly enjoyed by the Glebe community. The City has moved to the final detail design phase which will consider any changes recommended by residents and the Society.

The Society’s annual bird survey took place on Sunday 20 October in cool, sunny conditions with 17 people meeting in Paddy Gray Reserve at 6.45 am to sign on and be allocated sites. Nine teams spent around 20 to 45 minutes surveying the birdlife in streets, parks and waterways. Over half of the 620 birds seen were the two most common birds found in other national surveys – the Noisy Miner and the Rainbow Lorikeet. This year’s survey also noted an almost doubling of the number of Australian Magpies, which have expanded from parks into streets, lanes and backyards and are breeding locally. There were fewer species seen this year, only 27 species compared to 30 in 2018, with several of our usual regulars like the Willie Wagtail and Magpie-Lark (Pee-wee) not being sighted. Glebe’s waterways, however, continue to provide habitat for Striated Heron and White-faced Heron – now seen on most surveys. Surprises this year included a mysterious ‘little brown bird’ in the John St Reserve Habitat Garden that may have been a Brown Thornbill, with one photographed in Redfern several days earlier. This year’s survey will be held on Sunday 1 November and will again be led by Judy Christie – please contact Judy if you can attend (0437 693 372).

White Faced Heron in Rozelle Bay (photo: Helen Randerson)

All members are always welcome to join the Subcommittee and to attend a planting and park maintenance day – simply send us an email if you would like to come: