The forty-nine flora and fauna sightings recorded by Merri Creek Management Committee staff or reported to us by the community between October 2016 and end of September 2017 hint at habitat improvements along Merri Creek. They also document the discovery of previously overlooked species and verify the results of conservation efforts.
Platypus residence in Merri Creek is a cherished goal and a possible indicator of improved habitat quality. The accumulation of reliable records helps us understand whether this progress is being achieved. It was therefore pleasing to add two Platypus sightings in the creek, one reported by a consultant in mid-December in Craigieburn and one by a community member from Coburg North in January.
Another possible sign of habitat improvement was a sighting of Painted Button Quail by MCMC staff in the MCMC East Brunswick depot garden in late September 2017. A trickle of sightings along the urban reaches of the Merri Creek in recent years shows that the Quail may be finding suitable habitat in restoration areas where deep leaf litter has developed.
On two dates in late 2016, MCMC staff observed and photographed Yellow Ochre Butterflies (also known as the ‘Rare White-spot’) at the Say G’day Reserve in Heathcote Junction. This species is endangered in Victoria where it is known from just a handful of locations. Staff also observed about half a dozen Golden Sun Moths on the 19th December, confirming the moths exist at this site. The Say G’day site spans the Great Dividing Range in an area known as the ‘Kilmore Gap’ - ecologically significant as a point for movement of lowland fauna between the northern plains and the coastal plains.
In May, MCMC staff were excited to observe that a ‘Bee Hotel’ designed to attract Blue-banded Bees was occupied. This ‘hotel’ was constructed with volunteers and installed during a Pollination count event in November 2016. Mud seals were observed on three of the prepared tunnels, a sign that female Blue-banded Bees had provisioned cells with pollen and nectar, laid an egg and sealed the entrance. Bee hotels are a great engagement activity and have potential to act as a monitoring tool.
The White Elderberry is known from just two locations on the Merri Creek. A small project to secure the future of the species on the Merri Creek was boosted in May when nine healthy plants were located along a stretch of creek in Epping. These provided cutting material that will be the core of a reintroduction program.