President's Report 2015

Friends of Native Wildlife Inc. No A0062521Y

The year 2015, the first year of incorporation of FoNW, continued all project surveys to a smaller extent while focusing on the Batting 4 Bayside project. A grant from the Norman Wettenhall Fund enabled the group to buy equipment necessary to locate and identify the small flying mammals, called microbats which are mostly unseen nor heard. Many students and staff from ARCUE at Melbourne University and Lindy Lumsden from the Arthur Rylah Institute in Heidelberg have supported us in many ways. A local graduate, Grant Linley carried out a foreshore micro bat project for us comparing lit and unlit areas to further our knowledge of habitat requirements and support of microbat populations. Anne Jessel has been the sole identifier of our vast collection of data to date. The committee has been tireless in continuing our many projects, plus completing the aims and objectives of our grant on time.

The results of the microbat project to date are on our web page. A major part of the 12 month project involved community engagement where we met several hundred residents, speaking to groups both small and large, as well as meeting many more people at the well advertised community outdoor events. This continues as the Batting 4 Bayside project now has bat box monitoring in place, plus ongoing outdoor events and continues to speak to groups from schools, guides, scouts and adult groups interested in their local wildlife.

The bat box group has involved both men and women who have made about 40 bat boxes over the 12 month period of which 24 are attached in the trees of private gardens or under house eaves. Graham and Geoffrey have a slick operation under way. They have designed a solid box by recycling hard wood fence palings, use recycled carpet with a small cost for wire and screws. Donations of webbing from Angela Warner have aided the hanging of boxes in trees, but were especially designed to meet Council design for UV safe strapping for boxes which are to be placed in parks and heathlands. Adam Burrowes offered to support Geoffrey and Elizabeth in the monitoring of the bat boxes and has completed his first round. We are requested for boxes for home gardens on a regular basis. Therefore more bat box working bees and ongoing monitoring of bat boxes will continue over the years to come.

We have approximately 50 fully paid members or associates (those under 15 years). All joined within our first incorporated year. There are 250 people receiving the FoNW newsletter, 24 families with bat boxes, and ten water bowl volunteers. The Committee has planned carefully during 2015. Our contacts have grown, the web page is adding new functions and information, facebook is regularly obtaining ~500 hits and we are on Twitter. Wildlife observations are being sent in from across Bayside.

FoNW support the Bayside City Council Friends Network and this summer were again part of the Summer By The Sea Programme during January. New ideas saw a resurgence in numbers and new participants.

This year 2016, monthly outings have begun with first sightings for some residents of our local rakali who reside in the breakwater surrounding the Sandringham Yacht Club.

Our monthly frog surveys with results going to Melbourne Water are encouraging. The local golf course wetland water level has been kept up this summer with the four species of frog calls being enjoyed by many over the summer period. However, lack of storm water to some other smaller ponds has left them dry and clogged with reeds. Frog populations to date, have appeared to survive the previous decade drought and we can only hope they continue to at the ephemeral ponds in our area.

The Common Bronzewing survives in small numbers in Bayside. The habitat FoNW care for at the south west corner of the Wangara Road Golf Driving Range had been looking very dry and wind damaged over last autumn and winter, but summer rains have brought a flush of growth. The more recent plantings of the ground cover Ruby Saltbush (Enchylaena tomentosa)which is a favourite food source of the common bronzewing has flourished. The bronzewing pigeons are elusive, but can be found in Cheltenham Park, through Long Hollow Heathland beside the Beaumaris High School to the George St Reserve and FoNW bush patch at the south west corner of the Sandringham golf driving range.

I would like to thank the committee for the dedication and amazing number of hours of work they have put in to incorporating FoNW and extending the community engagement in both outdoor and indoor events and their support to me as President. Your many and varied talents make for the fun and happy team we have.

 I would also like give a special mention:

to Angela Warner who has provided expensive webbing to attach our bat boxes to parkland trees and is to become our keeper of bat box records;

to Sally Eldridge for expanding our facebook page into a much liked concept where many wildlife observations are shared.

Special thanks also to Adam Burrowes for photocopying many items for distribution and his new duties as our first bat box monitor whom a number of you will have already met.

A big thank you to our youngest members, Tom for support at outdoor events and to both Tom and Lewis Hiller for written articles for the Banksia Bulletin.

Thank you to Graham Lucas and Geoffrey Daniel for the design, building and bat box working bees, numbering about 50 boxes.

Thank you to the 24 households who have put up bat boxes and the water bowl volunteers who fill up the shallow wildlife bowls along the cliff top.

Finally, thanks must go to the Cheltenham Bakery for some of the treats for tonight’s supper.

I would now also like to add a huge thank you to Geoffrey for his smart sideline in fig sales which helped defray the evening costs.

In conclusion, there are many small parts all members and friends can play in spreading the understanding, enjoyment and retension of our local habitat for wildlife. Encouraging others to look at our web site and signing up for the newsletter, becoming a member or joining one of our many activities and giving of a small amount of time here and there will both encourage us as well as supporting nature in our area for which we must continue to be vigilant. Everywhere habitat is being lost so we need to find clever ways of supporting what wildlife we have. Action, involvement and education are all paramount.

We are here tonight being a part of all of those things.

Elizabeth Walsh

President 2015