Barnet Reserve first pictures

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on 03 May 2013 
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One day into owning the Spring Paddock, soon to be baptised the Barnet Reserve, and here are the first set of pictures. I hope these make it clear what the main ecological assets are of this new addition to the Nardoo Hills. They can briefly be grouped under three headers:

  1. The place has never been ploughed and has not been battered by fertilisers. This means the understorey has the capacity to rapidly improve now sheep grazing has stopped and rabbit and kangaroo grazing will be managed for conservation. As our most threatened species of orchids at Nardoo already lived right on (the soon to disappear) fence lines between the main chunk of reserve and the new paddock, it is expected that these will pop up there reasonably quickly. Already Paul Foreman identified several rare grass species on the new block a few years ago, among them Austrostipa gibbosa. This land certainly has the possibility of throwing up pleasant surprises in the future in regards to groundcover species. I can’t wait until the rains come so we get to find out what herbs are present.
  2. Spring Paddock is split up in two sections by a major creek line, a novelty for our Victorian holdings. It has a spring halfway, hence the provisional name of the property. The spring still has its original wooden casing built in it, first put there by the squatters who were after permanent water for their sheep long before anybody came up with the idea of farm dams. It is one of the oldest white-man structures in the district and actually holds water at present, even when half of all dams have dried up. The main ecological attraction of this creek line is its good stand of large old trees, providing homes and shelter to bats and other mammals, insects, birds and reptiles as well as producing exponentially large amounts of nectar, the base of the food chain in Central Victoria. Eutaxia microphylla grows along this creek in good numbers, a palatable plant fast disappearing elsewhere. The declining woodland birds, one of the main conservation targets for Nardoo Hills, are using the tree lined creek line as permanent residence or as a safe passing through corridor on their way to and from the hills and it will be great to do a complete inventory of avian fauna soon. The Hooded Robin and Painted Buttonquail are the main species we would like to find in this patch. With the rain just not coming at all so far this year, we will not hold our breath for the Swift Parrot this winter. There are enough large Greybox (Eucalyptus microcarpa) to feed them once times turn good. Weeds are spread throughout the creek, but nothing we can’t handle. That is, we need it to rain badly, so the weeds are actually actively growing before we can make a start on them. Apart from the dozen or so Peppercorns I find while taking these photos, as I am already drilling them while walking along. One day into owning the place and the first weeds get the juice already, we don’t mess around.
  3. For the first time BHA will now have a threatened Victorian vegetation community called “Plains Woodland” in its portfolio. This is a typical vegetation community that exists on the more arable country in the Victorian Riverina, the region adjacent to the Murray River. Obviously very suitable to agriculture, it is no surprise this community has been largely cleared elsewhere. There is about 40 to 50 hectares of this vegetation type on Spring Paddock albeit not in very good condition. Weed control works as well as tactical reintroductions of certain species will rapidly restore this patch as the large trees are still there and we can expect a seed base in the ground. The declining Buloke (Allocasuarina luehmannii) is a feature species of this community and while the main chunk of Nardoo only had one or two of these magnificent trees, the Spring Paddock already has a dozen or so, attracting its own unique suite of birds and insects. One of the specifics of this species is that there are separate boy and girl trees so it’s important we have a good mix of both genders to ensure seed production. It’s hillside cousin, the Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata) is also underrepresented on Spring Paddock and will need to be helped along a bit to restore it to being a more dominant species on the higher ground, just like we’ve been doing on the other section of Nardoo.

I hope this gives everybody a clearer picture of this new acquisition, its ecological values and our plans for improvement and related works. Cheerio for now, Jeroen.
 

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