‘Wild Sydney: living with animals’
All members of the Society and their friends are welcome to attend a talk to be given by Dr John Martin, Wildlife Ecologist from the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. It will be held at 6pm on Monday 16 April at Benledi (Glebe Library) and will be followed by a glass of wine and nibbles.

Planting day at Orphan School Creek
Commencing at 9.30am on Saturday 14 April, a planting day will be held at the Orphan School Creek Reserve. Please meet Judy Christie (0437 693 372), the leader of the bushcare volunteers, at the Wood St, Forest Lodge entrance to the Reserve.

10th anniversary of the publication of ‘Superb Fairy-Wren Habitat in Glebe & Forest Lodge – a community based conservation project’
The Subcommittee and members of the six bushcare groups in Glebe held an Autumn Party at Andrew Wood’s apartment on Friday 16 March to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the publication of the ‘Blue Wren Report’. Sue Stevens, the consultant ecologist and urban small bird specialist who wrote the report, was an honoured guest. Sue’s work was funded by a $10,000 grant to the Society from the City of Sydney’s Environmental Grants Program.

What led to the decision in 2006 to apply for an environmental grant? 

In autumn 2005, Norma Hawkins regularly watched a pair of Superb Fairy-wrens feeding their young offspring in her backyard in St James Ave. It’s very likely that this represented the last breeding event of wrens in Glebe.

In July 2006, a group of Glebe residents, including Judy Christie, Fiona Campbell, Jeanette Knox, Roberta Johnson and others, who were members of the Society and Friends Residents/Ratepayers of Orphan School Creek Gully (FFROGS – now known as The Friends of Orphan School Creek) submitted an application to the City of Sydney’s initial Environmental Grants Program to fund a local environment project to ‘help our wrens’ (an initiative suggested by Fiona).

The project submitted in the name of FFROGS aimed at surveying our Blue Wren population, developing a conservation plan and carrying out education and habitat-enhancing activities. It took a little persuasion to convince the City that 50% of the grant should be spent on an external consultant to ensure the appropriate methodology and rigour behind the surveys and final reports.

The application was successful; however, the funds could not be awarded as FFROGS was an unincorporated organisation. Thus, after consultations with the Glebe Society and the City the application was resubmitted in the name of the Society (which was incorporated). The funds were awarded and, in mid-2007, the Blue Wren Subcommittee was established under the leadership of David Mander-Jones. Sue Stevens, an ecologist and urban small bird habitat specialist, was appointed as a consultant for the project.

By the spring of 2007, a range of surveying methodologies were underway to record the sightings of blue wrens in Glebe, including a community snapshot survey directed by Sue Stevens, letterboxing of residents and online reporting.

Sue’s report was released in 2008 and accepted by the City of Sydney and launched on their website. On National Tree Day in 2008, the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore and Deputy Lord Mayor, Robyn Kemmis, attended a habitat planting in Paddy Grey Reserve in Hereford St along with over 200 participants who collected wren-friendly plants for their gardens – the overall project was declared A SUCCESS!

So, where are we today? Sue’s report has withstood the test of time and is now recognised as an outstanding reference work for those establishing habitat for wrens and other small insect-eating birds. Although wrens have not been recently seen in Glebe, the Blue Wren Subcommittee continues to work in assisting the six volunteer bushcare/landcare groups which together with the City of Sydney are caring for many of the parks in our suburb. The recent extensive plantings of wren-friendly natives are amazing to see and we give thanks for the hundreds of volunteer-hours that have resulted in such dramatic enhancements of the flora in our parks.

To read a copy of the ‘Blue Wren Report’ and to find information on how to help make your garden blue wren friendly, go to: www.glebesociety.org.au/wp-content/uploads/BlueWrens_Report.pdf

Sue Stevens (left), ecologist and urban small bird habitat specialist, together with Judy Christie, Jeanette Knox and Norma Hawkins (founding members of the Blue Wren Subcommittee) at a party to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the publication of Sue’s ‘Blue Wren Report’. (image: Jude Paul)