Thursday, September 3, 2015

AUGUST OUTING REPORT - East Creek and Table Top Estate area

About 20 members gathered at Picnic Point for a BBQ lunch at noon. We were very lucky to secure one of the BBQs as it was a beautiful mild late-winter day and many families were out enjoying the area. There was a lot of bird activity whilst we enjoyed our meal, with several species investigating the many hollows in the mature trees – a welcome indication that the warmer weather is, perhaps, not too far away.
After eating, we moved up to the Waterbird Habitat on Mackenzie Street where we started our exploration of the new water retention systems along East Creek. The Ballin Drive detention basin works are now completed, and the screens removed, but the fencing will remain in place until sometime in September to protect the new plantings while they get established. The contractors are responsible for maintaining the new plantings for a period of three months, and will replace any casualties during this period. The detention basin has a capacity of 40ML and approximately 310 trees, 20,000 shrubs and 53,000 ground covers have been planted, many of these native and flood-tolerant species. Because of the fencing we were unable to get close enough to the newly planted areas to positively identify species, but the consensus was that overall there appears to be a vast improvement to the habitats and increased biodiversity.
Returning to the cars we then proceeded through the Waterbird Habitat to the Alderley Street end of Garnet Lehmann Park. We all remember the public protests regarding Council’s plan for this park, but judging by the end results an excellent compromise was eventually reached. There is still a large area of the old mature trees with grass cover and, despite the ravages of the floods, the creek bed still has many mature tree ferns on the banks, with regeneration of young ferns evident. Between this informal area and South Street, a new water detention bund (capacity 67ML) has been built with the landscaping work creating a natural looking creek bed with a wide range of riverine habitats to encourage wildlife diversity. A new pathway and attractive bridge provide good viewing areas with interpretive signage. There has also been extensive planting of trees, shrubs and ground cover which bodes well for the local bird populations.
Judging by the increased numbers of residents now utilising these areas the water detention scheme has certain-ly improved the recreational facilities of our city. I have very distinct memories of going with our grandson to look for yabbies in the old creek bed about 10 years ago, when it was just a trickle at the bottom of steep muddy banks. It eventually ran into a dull concrete gutter. Now city kids can spend many hours exploring the riverine landscapes created just above and below the outlet, with different water environments including sandy and pebbly bottomed pools, ripple areas and all sorts of environments on the banks. Let’s hope the local wildlife will eventually take up abode there. It will be interesting to watch, when/if they are put to the test, just how effective these detention basins prove to be in making our city much more resistant to major rain events in the future. Incidentally, these basins are not designed to ‘retain’ water, but to ‘detain’ and safely manage flood water in East Creek.
David Hill showing some of his nesting boxes (Photo: F. Mangubhai
Our day was concluded with a visit to David Hill’s Land for Wildlife Property in the Table Top Estate. David himself was unable to be with us until almost dusk, but he made us very welcome in absentia for afternoon tea on his deck and browsing through his garden where he has introduced a wide range of native vegetation and an even wider range of home-made nesting boxes, from minute to gigantic, which all seemed to be occupied or regularly visited. With such a large (and dare I say noisy) group, ‘spotting’ of the residents was somewhat limited, but very satisfying when it was achieved.

All in all this turned out to be a very relaxing and interesting outing, and proved that it is not always necessary to make a long journey for a productive field trip, and just how lucky we are to live in The Garden City.

(Report by Shirley Cormack)

Panoramic view of Ballin Drive (photo by Dougal Johnston)

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