Ten community members gave up their Sunday to participate in a litter workshop, jointly run by Friends of Merri Creek and Merri Creek Management Committee, in late November 2019. The aims of the workshop were to:
- Learn about the current litter problem in Merri Creek and the source of this litter;
- Come up with actions participants could undertake, personally and with their social connections, to reduce litter coming into the creek.
A female Powerful Owl has been spotted with a Common ring-tail possum in her claws, not far from the Merri Parklands. Craig Lupton, Senior Biodiversity Officer, at Yarra City Council, photographed the bird near the Yarra River in Fairfield on 16 April 2020. Craig said: "She’ll sit on it [the possum] until dusk, devour it, then fly off into the night to continue looking for a mate and foraging."
As an apex predator, this urban Powerful Owl commonly feeds on Ring-tail possums, young Brush-tail possums, and quite possibly Grey-headed flying foxes and some species of day birds. It's inspiring to see these birds utilising our precious urban bushland areas.
Our Ecological Restoration staff have been hard at work, adapting their autumn ecological burn program to heavy, early autumn rains and the social distancing requirements of the COVID-19 world. A few of this year’s burns have been postponed, particularly those close to homes where smoke could impact on health-compromised residents who may be self-isolating. Elsewhere our ecological burn program is continuing.
You are never too young to get stuck into removing litter from our precious local waterways as a local Kindergarten demonstrated. In September 2019, two groups of four year old children from the Walker Street Community Kindergarten walked to Merri Creek in Clifton Hill where they were supplied with a litter kit and an education session from MCMC’s Waterwatch Coordinator, Julia Cirillo. More than 40 children picked up litter, mainly coming into the creek via the stormwater drains after flood waters have subsided. In just over an hours' work, children picked up 4kgs of litter. The litter consisted of plastic bag remnants (plastic bags broken into pieces), plastic drink bottles, straws and tiny pieces of plastic, also known as micro and macro plastics and polystyrene.
Fitzroy High School's Climate Club initiated and ran a very successful Merri Creek litter Clean up late in 2019. 18 students from Years 7-10, with their teachers, met on Merri Creek near Rushall train station and worked diligently for over an hour removing a huge amount of litter from the banks of the creek. This rubbish most likely ended up here from stormwater drains, which carriy rain water and litter from our retail and residential areas into the creek. So, litter increases after heavy rainfall. Climate Club gathered 18kgs of litter which included 12½ kgs of landfill and 5½ kgs of recyclables.
Sixteen participants enjoyed exploring nocturnal nature at the Alphington wetlands in late December 2019, with the help of staff from Merri Creek Management Committee and the City of Yarra. The wetlands are nestled beside the Yarra River in Alphington.
Participants learned to recognise local frogs by their calls and collected data using the Melbourne Water Frog Census app. The highlight of the evening was hearing at least three Peron’s tree frogs (Litoria peronii) calling from the wetlands The last time Peron’s tree frog was recorded in the City of Yarra was more than 25 years ago, in 1994. (photo by Craig Lupton, City of Yarra).
The ecological effects of pesticides in waterways is being explored as part of an exciting new citizen science project called Pesticide Detectives. This federally funded program is a collaboration between RMIT University and citizen science volunteers.
As part of the project, Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC) collected a sediment sample from Merri Creek, just south of its confluence with Edgars Creek in Coburg North, in late 2019. The good news is that no pesticides were found in the sample.
Nine keen volunteers helped collect important citizen science data on waterbug diversity on the Plenty River as part of the November 2019 Waterbug Blitz.
MCMC's Waterwatch Coordinator worked with Waterbug guru, John Gooderham, to help participants collect and identify waterbugs from three Plenty River sites - the Gorge in Mernda, near the Whittlesea township, and upstream of the township at Wildwood Rd.
Merri Creek Management Committee staff visited Galada Kindergarten in Epping to introduce local biodiversity to 12 groups of four year olds over two days in March 2020. We used storytelling to introduce Spotted Marsh Frog, Pacific Black Duck, Rakali, Long-necked Turtle, Platypus (Dulai wurrung), and Short-finned Eel (Iuk) as local creatures of Wurundjeri Country and their Woi-wurrung names (when known).
In mid-February, community volunteers and Merri Creek Management Committee staff bravely ventured out after a rainy afternoon to Merri Park in Northcote for the final nest box monitoring session for the season. Thirty-two nest boxes were installed in trees in Merri Park in September 2019. The group was on the lookout for microbats, in particular Gould’s Wattled Bat and the White-striped Free-tail Bat, both of which use hollows and, potentially, nest boxes. Both types of microbat are thought to be in the area.