On Thursday 7 May 2015 at 6:30 pm in the downstairs meeting room at Benledi (Glebe Library), Dr Holly Parsons from BirdLife Australia, will give a talk to the Society entitled ‘Little birds in a big city – the lives and times of Superb Fairy-wrens’. Dr Parsons is the Program Manager for Birds in Backyards and has a special interest in avian urban ecology. Her PhD investigated the impact of urbanisation on Superb Fairy-wrens and she is currently managing the invaluable database of surveys completed by Birds in Backyards.

A Regional Landcare Bushcare Forum entitled ‘The Birds & Bees of Bushcare: restoring and protecting habitat for native wildlife’ will be held on Friday 15 May at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. It is necessary to register for this event – please contact Vanessa Keyzer, Regional Landcare Facilitator, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, on 02 4725 3041 or e-mail vanessa.keyzer@lls.nsw.gov.au.

As part of the program, Sophie Golding (Urban Ecology Coordinator, City of Sydney) will give a talk entitled ‘Wildlife in the City’. It will include a report of the City’s and Society’s 2013 and 2014 spring bird surveys in Glebe which were initiated by the Subcommittee. Sophie will discuss the partnerships, lessons learnt and where the collaboration hopes to go in the future.

Six volunteers attended a working bee organised by the Friends of Orphan School Creek Bushcare Group on Sunday 22 March and 40 tube stock provided by the City of Sydney were planted on a steep slope in the park and well watered. It rained the following day and the new native flora are now well established. The next working bee in the park will be held from 9am to 1130am on Sunday 10 May 2015 and Society members are always welcomed at these events.

As reported in the last Bulletin, a major difficulty for the Glebe Bushcare Group has been the arrival of groups of backpackers/campers who are now living in the parking area near the wetlands adjacent to Chapman Rd. The President has sent a letter to Ms Monica Barone, Chief Executive Officer, City of Sydney which concluded as follows: ‘We would be grateful if the City could promptly take whatever action is available to it to prevent Chapman Rd and the adjacent parklands being used as a camping site, and to put a stop to the damage being caused to the native plantings.’

The City has now installed signs in Chapman Rd restricting parking to two hours between 8am and 6pm (Monday to Friday) – we hope this solves the problem!

The Subcommittee responded to a request from Amy Day (Design Manager, Design, City of Sydney) to comment on the City’s proposed plantings for John Street Reserve. It was recommended that the list of proposed native flora be significantly increased and additional species were suggested. With regard to the problems caused by a Chinese Hackberry tree in the south-west corner of St James Park, which overhangs the adjacent tennis court, the President has sent a letter to Ms Monica Barone, Chief Executive Officer, City of Sydney, which concluded as follows: ‘Given the environmental impacts caused by the Chinese Hackberry and the resultant increased cost of maintaining the tennis courts, there appear to be significant benefits in the removal and replacement of this tree with a more suitable species. We would appreciate it if the City could please remove this noxious tree as soon as possible.’

The Subcommittee replied to a request from Rae Broadfoot (Community Garden and Volunteer Coordinator, City of Sydney) concerning the City’s proposed Green Volunteer Network; we answered each of the questions raised and fully supported the establishment of the Network. Sophie Golding (Urban Ecology Coordinator, City of Sydney) sent the Glebe Society a spreadsheet containing the overall numbers of birds counted in each of Glebe’s parks during the 2014 spring survey and these will be summarised to provide a report to members of the Society.

A document has been prepared by the Subcommittee on the future maintenance of Paddy Gray Reserve which will be discussed with Nick Criniti (Contract Coordinator Parks, City of Sydney); of particular importance is the need for the City to continue a previous commitment that a bushcare trained team would care for the Reserve.

The Subcommittee responded to a request from Amy Day (Design Manager, Design, City of Sydney) to comment on the City’s proposed plantings for the Glebe Town Hall Garden as follows:

  • The originally approved Development Application hasn’t been followed through for the establishment of a native garden (rather than a grassed area) at the front of Glebe Town Hall.
  • All sightings of Blue Wrens in Forest Lodge in the last 10 years have been in dense hedges (eg Lilly Pilly, Africa Olive, Conifer species) or tangled shrubs (Banksia Rose). The key to the habitat success of the shrub species selected for the Town Hall Garden lies in how densely they are planted and how they are maintained – in particular regularly pruned,  not radically once a year. The aim is to provide a protective habitat for small birds and help shield them from larger aggressive birds and Noisy Miners. For example, Grevillea sericea is a dense hedge around the border of the grass tennis courts at the University of Sydney where the wrens are living; Westringias, which can be created as a formal hedge could also play a similar role in the Town Hall garden.

The Palmerston Ave and Surrounds Landcare Group held its inaugural meeting on Monday 30 March at 6pm at Benledi, Glebe Library. The convenor of the Group is a Society member, Anna Szanto, and the Subcommittee has offered continuing assistance to the Group and has invited a member to attend our monthly meetings.