Author Archives: Popes Glen Bushcare Group

Community Habitat Day

Saturday 24th, sunny and warm saw over 20 Blackheath community members turn up for a morning of information, fun and a little work. Great results for parents and children helping to maintain Bird Habitat Number 1 in the old “Weed Mosaic” area, now a thriving native habitat.

Learning about Weeds (Gorse)

On the track to the work area for the morning, the group looked at some well-progressed rehabilitation (at right of photo), a newly planted area (at left) and a sample of one of the weeds that has been almost eradicated – Gorse! One new seedling was found next to the track and quickly removed. A few more seedlings were gathered up along the track.

Community members and their children then walked on to the morning’s work area, while some of the experienced Bushcare group members went further afield to tackle more difficult weeding.

Learning about Fauna

In the pleasant shade, the community group firstly learned a bit about Bush regeneration and safety, then about the birds, other fauna such as reptiles, crayfish and mammals that might take advantage of the diverse habitat being created. Here, Blue Mountains City Council Bushcare Officer Nathan Summers talks here about Native Crayfish and Quolls. Other fauna likely to be seen around this site are reptiles including snakes, skinks and lizards and a variety of frog species. Swamp Wallabies are also frequent visitors; they enjoy eating some of the succulent new growth on the Acacias and Callicomas the group has planted over the years. Feral species such as the Fox and “domestic” cats also unfortunately make use of the same habitat.

Popes Glen Group Coordinator Alan Lane talked about the vegetation itself and Deputy Paul Vale discussed the birdlife present (only Superb Fairy Wrens so far today) and how the habitat being managed is suitable for both Bushland and Water Bird species due to the nearby permanent creek.

Community Work Day

After a delicious morning tea provided by Council, the community group put on their gloves and set to work rescuing some of the natives, which have become overgrown with weed grasses during summer. Other weeds found and removed included Japanese Honeysuckle, English Ivy and some more Gorse seedlings.

So a very enjoyable, informative and productive morning.

The Bushcare Group is now in the last 4 months of the substantial 6-year grant from NSW Environmental Trust. In our report to The Trust later this year on the progress in the last 12 months and the overall success of the project, we will be noting the fantastic support received from a broad cross-section of the Blackheath Community.


How to remove weeds

Before removal of Pine Trees

Before removal of Pine Trees

Through fantastic efficiency by Council bushland management in administering NSW Environmental Trust grant funds, we have been able to reallocate a large amount to removal of Pine trees from the bushland section of Memorial Park. This is part of the direct catchment into Popes Glen Creek and reserve and a constant problem as a source of weed propagules.

After removal of several large Pinus radiata

After removal of several large Pinus radiata

Council has employed experienced contractors to do the job and one area is now cleared of Pines, holly, cotoneaster and other woody weeds. After further evaluation, the next step will be to allow some natural regeneration from the existing native seed-bank and then intervene as necessary with further weeding and planting if needed.

Two more photos showing a before and after of the general area, which is close to residential housing on 3 sides.

Before Pine removal

Before Pine removal

After removal of Pinus radiata and other woody weeds

After removal of Pinus radiata and other woody weeds

Bird Habitat Brochure Just Released

Here is a sneak preview of the first information brochure linking Bushcare with Bird Habitat. Currently at the printers! Bird Plants Blue Mts Final 2015 c (330kb)

Prepared by Popes Glen Bushcare Group for use over the whole mountains area, with assistance and funding from Greater Sydney Local Land Services.

Free to download, this is a compressed edition for web use; higher resolution copies are available for printing quality.

For any queries on the brochure, please contact us on this email address (you might need to copy & paste).

Bird Habitat Planting Success

Saturday 25th April saw up to 30 community members arrive in Popes Glen Bushcare worksite to help rehabilitate bird habitat. See “Bird Habitat Anyone?” post for more site details.

The Bushcare Group plans to create a habitat specifically tailored to attract and support smaller birds, such as Red-browed Finch, Superb Fairy-wren, Eastern Whipbird. Over 300 plants of local provenance and ready for planting.

D Demstration Hole Dig w

First, dig a hole

Under bright blue skies Council Bushcare Officer Peter Chrismas demonstrated planting techniques to the whole group. We broke up into small groups to work in 5 small areas, previously marked out. Plants suitable for each micro-area had also been laid out earlier in the day. Very well organised indeed.

E Demonstrate Planting w

Then find a plant …

F Volunteers Planting w

Hard at work still digging and planting

The very enthusiastic volunteers dug holes, planted & guarded, then watered every one of the tube-stock provided for the day.

G Finished Product w

The “finished” product

As the last few plants were being fitted in, the debris collected and final water spread around, the first drops of rain appeared and the skies began to fill with grey and darkening clouds. With most of the work done, many of the volunteers repaired to the morning tea (now lunchtime!) shelter. Some of us stayed behind to check for any rubbish & lost tools, also engaging in some impromptu weed identification while sheltering under tree ferns in the heavier downpours.

This dedication was rewarded, with the arrival close by of a White-necked Heron which had been patrolling the swamp 30 metres away earlier in the morning. Still & quiet as a statue, the bird patiently watched its prey hiding somewhere in the thick carex swamp grass beneath. We watched, took photographs, waited patiently too. But not as patiently as the Heron. We had left the bird to concentrate on its job, when a sudden sound made us turn again to find a large crayfish in the Heron’s bill.

Heron with Lunch

Heron with Lunch

A fantastic job of juggling ensued, at the end of which the crustacean disappeared into the bird’s crop in a single, swift gulp. This heron has been in and around the Popes Glen swamp for at least two weeks and has been seen fishing before. Will it make home here? Very unlikely, but it is exciting to know that such a large bird is finding other parts of our previously lifeless willow-desert such good habitat.

There will be more such fun next month with another set of plants ready, but we can’t promise the Heron will repeat its performance. If you would like to come on 23rd May, or want more information, see below.

All community members are welcome, but numbers are limited so contact Alan to register and for details:    Ph 4787 7097

Hail and Bushcare Go Together?

Fantastic community turn up on Saturday for bird habitat planting. What a huge contrast in the weather! Cool in the morning, warming up as the day progressed, with beautiful blue skies.

Around noon, small grey clouds appeared from time to time, each dropping a few large raindrops. These a quick bucketload of raindrops from a large black cloud and back to sunshine!

Plants all in the ground – over 400 at the last count – and all well watered in.

Then another large very black cloud covered the sky and most would have seen the resulting massive hail storm on the TV news. Of course, Popes Glen and its environs did not miss out – I was still outside putting equipment away. It was impressive. Our decks collected uncountable marble-sized stones of ice.

After the cataclysm, I walked back to the worksite with some trepidation as to what I would find. All was well! Not a single plant damaged that I could see; all were either well protected by overarching existing foliage or their plastic guards. Those without protection didn’t seem any the worse for wear – those being mostly Dianella and Lomandra.

B Before Storms Ph3 w
So this is what it looked like about noon.

B Contrast After Hail Ph3 w
And this at about 2 hours after the storm had passed.


Bird Habitat Anyone?

Bird Habitat Preparation 01 GroupwSaturday 28th March – a glorious morning for Bushcare activity. Sunny, no rain, not hot, no wind, blue skies and shade available. Perfect for PGBG volunteers to get stuck in to preparations for next month’s mass bird-habitat planting!

With up to 300 plants ready for 25th April, particular locations have been selected for each of the various species waiting for release from their tubes. Most of the plants have been propagated from seed collected on site or nearby.

This relatively small area is an important oasis of opportunity. Until this time last year, it was covered in Japanese honeysuckle, with most of the usual weed suspects poking up. Bird Habitat Preparation 03 signw

Approximately 20 metres square, with good native plant cover around three sides, it needs intense planting out to take advantage of the contractors’ weed removal efforts.

And we can almost sense the birds waiting for the new plants to appear.


There is still some weeding to do. Observant bushcarers might recognise the small oak tree in the foreground of this volunteer happy-snap. Rest assured it did not live to see lunch time, nor did its 5 mates.

Bird Habitat Preparation 10 sticksw

The end result of our efforts is masses of small, cleared spaces each with a marker stick waiting for their allocated plant species.

This photo shows just a small section of the complete area.

Another very satisfying and enjoyable morning in Popes Glen.

There are still spaces available for anyone interested in visiting in April for the “big bird habitat planting day”. See the recent post “Upcoming Community Event” for details and how to book.


Upcoming Community Event

A Special Planting Day for the Birds of Popes Glen

Will be held on April 25 to begin creating habitat for all the small birds now visiting Popes Glen.

From Weedy Wasteland to Thriving Wetland

Over the past 12 years PGBG has progressively removed the forest of huge willows and other weeds from the large silt flat at the headwaters of Popes Glen creek. We’ve been replacing them with local wetland plants and putting in structures to control flooding and storm damage. An environmental desert is being turned into a thriving permanent wetland!

Making a Home for Birds

Golden Whistler (photo Paul Vale)

Golden Whistler (photo Paul Vale)

A wonderful spin-off is the large number of small birds, some species unusual or rare in the Upper Mountains, who now visit the wetland. They are using our piles of woody debris as habitat, but these will decay into the swamp over the next few years.  Now is the time for planting of dense vegetation thickets to create permanent habitat for these small birds.

The First Bird Habitat Planting Day

  • Will be held on Saturday April 25, 10am – 1pm
  • Planting about 300 tubestock.
  • No experience or tools needed.
  • BYO morning tea.

All community members are welcome, but numbers are limited so contact Alan to register and for details:    Ph 4787 7097

Popes Glen Creek Remote GGWW

PG Creek 1 Remote 2015 wA beautiful sunny day for a walk in the creek. Sunday morning 8th March was scheduled as a joint BMCC/NPWS  Great Grose Weed Walk event and a small, able group headed out of the Parks office just after 9 a.m. to find those pesky remaining Gorse and any other weeds that might appear.  Amongst the group today, no less than four Blue Mountains Bushcare Legends!


Work involved a lot of walking through dense bush, to find the occasional small clearing, silt deposit or drainage line where weeds tend to congregate as well as wet feet to check the banks from the creek itself.

PG Creek Remote F wAbout 100 gorse plants varying from small hand-pulled seedlings to larger 1/2 metre high cut-&-paint jobs were removed. Other weeds found and treated were Monbretia (not much – good!), English Holly, a few Broom & Fleabane. Of course, not only work done. Good companionship and teamwork displayed with the odd break for a cuppa and sandwich. Nothing like sitting in amongst the perfect native bush while doing that with friends. A very satisfying day indeed.