World Wetlands Day 2003: Australia

04/02/2003

World Wetlands Day 2003 in City of Whittlsea, Victoria, Australia

Field and Game Australia
Metropolitan Branch
No. A26838R

Habitat Conservation Info Report No.1/2003
3/2/2003
World Wetlands Day
2 February 2003

2003 is the International Year of Freshwater

Installation of 20 "Hilton Deluxe" Nest Boxes to Wetlands
and
Clean Up of Rubbish to Mill Parks Lakes
in the City of Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia


Purpose
These simple reports that I put out from time to time are aimed to inform, educate and promote partnerships and alliances with people and groups from all walks of life.

Weather: Sunny, slight smoke haze due to bush fires in the north/west of Victoria, Australia.
Commenced: 7:20am
Date: Sunday, February 2, 2003
Location: City of Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia.

Introduction
Members of Field and Game Australia have a long proud history of Wetland Rehabilitation and Conservation, we are proud to be able to continue the traditions that were created by our founders in 1958.
Since European settlement many tree hollows have been removed by humans in Australia for land clearance. By installing nest boxes with a monitoring program we create an artificial tree hollow which over many years have proven very successful for our native birds.

Background.
At this time each year groups from around the world convey to the world at large that our wetlands are a vital component of the freshwater cycle.
On a global scale at least 1.1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and at least 3 million die each year, many of them children from illness caused by contaminated water.
During the 20th century we as humans have destroyed 50% of the worlds remaining Wetlands. We have physically modified others with dams, canals and altered water flow in 60% of the worlds largest rivers. By doing this we often compromise the many valuable ecosystems functions upon which we depend.

Not only have we destroyed wetlands to make way for agriculture but also we continue to siphon off freshwater to support increasing demands by humans to support increased food production.

Our wetlands NEED water if they are to deliver the quality and quantity of water we depend on now and into the future.

Wetlands ecosystems must be fully taken into account in any effective water management regime.
Just like in nature it is all about balance. Balancing needs for agriculture, industry, domestic uses and specific allocation of water to wetlands is essential. Full involvement of all stakeholders is important if all individuals and groups are to take proactive ownership of the process.

Education is the key.

World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2003 marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands. On the 2nd February 1971, in the Iranian City of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. WWD was first celebrated in 1997.
(Web site, ramsar.org)

General Report
Commence 7:20am, Sunday the 2/2/2003
Members met to load nest boxes, nest box poles and tools onto trailers. We set out for our first stop at Redleap Lake where we installed our first four nest boxes. All went reasonably well except for the fourth nest box where I slipped with the spanner while tightening the fixing bolts and it fell into the water. I decide that if we were to complete the installation this nest box I was going to have to get wet. With the verbal applause from fellow members and as my full-length waders slowly filled with cool water, I fished around in the water to find the elusive spanner. (Photo - 2003WWDNo4 will explain all)

We then drove to Mill Parks Lakes which is a man made wetlands covering more than 20 hectares or the size of 10 football ovals. These type of wetlands fit in well with educating, giving an imprecation of wetlands to the general community, many of which will never visit a wetland due to today's material society being insulated from the many wonders that are to be seen when moving through a wetlands. Wetlands also create habitat for waterfowl and other native birds, this being especially true during this time of drought.
After the installation of 16 nest boxes to this site and installing a further 6 nest box poles for the future we continue to remove rubbish caught between reeds and plastic bags and sheeting which can trap waterfowl when they get entangled and either injure or cause a slow and painful death.

As a volunteer group our funding is obtained for nest box material through grants, both local and state governments and through donations. Materials are purchased, a cutting day is held with members and nest boxes are assembled by young Australians from La Trobe University Lifeskills Program.
(They build a great nest box)

Many species of Australian birds nest in tree hollows. Since European settlement much of the vegetation around wetlands have been removed. Nesting boxes can be a great benefit to wildlife in areas of human habitation where tree hollows have been lost.
This breeding season has seen our waterfowl retreat to council lakes, rivers, creeks and Australia's coastal waters due to the current drought cycle. Our parrot community has taken up residence our nest boxes with over 80 eggs laid in late 2002.
Species: - Eastern Rosella's, (Platycercus eximius) Crimson Rosella's, (Platycercus elegans) and Red Rumped Parrot's, (Psephotus haematonotus)

At completion of the days project, there are now a total of 108 nest boxes for waterfowl and other Australian native birds installed in and around wetlands throughout the City of Whittlesea.

Monitoring of each nest box is undertaken every 21 days to enhance efficiency of nest boxes.

Birds that can be seen using Binoculars at this time at Mill Park Lakes, Victoria, Australia.
· Black-Fronted Dotterels (Elseyornis melanops)
· Grebes - Hoary-Headed Grebes (Poliocephalus poliocephalus) and Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae)
· White-Faced Herons (Egretta novaehollandiae)
· Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca)
· Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
· Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)
· Masked Lapwing also known as Spurwinged Plover (Vanellus miles)
· Black Shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaries)
· Snipe - Species to be determined.
· Yellow-Billed Spoonbill (Platalea flavipes)
· Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius)
· Little Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos)
· Chestnut Teal (Anas castanea)
· Grey Teal (Anas gracilis)
· Hardhead (Aythya australis)
· Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)
· Pacific Black Ducks (Anas superciliosa)
· Black Swans (Cygnus atratus)
· Black Winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus)
· Red-Necked Avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae)

The members from the Metropolitan Branch welcomes the Community to observe the native birds and nest boxes from a distance. This will allow nature to take its course undisturbed and you will also see a lot more. It is extremely important that this observation be by the use of binoculars, as human activity close to Nest Boxes will deter the birds from breeding.

Metropolitan Branch of Field and Game Australia is managed by members of the City of Whittlesea Community and have over 500 current members.

Photos of World Wetlands Day February 2, 2003
in the City of Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia

Nicholas Rutter placing straw in nest box no.109 before Gary Turner bolts nest box to pole at Mill Parks Lakes

Gary Turner and Reece Turner (Father & Son) manually ramming nest box pole into position with Wayne Robinson assisting.

While tightening up bolts to next box at Redleap Lake I dropped a spanner. Without another to finish off the job some one had to dive for it and as you can see I had more water in my waders than was in Redleap Lake, Mill Park, Victoria, Australia. Vic Dal Pra and Wayne Robinson (with hammer) and other members of our branch (on the bank, out of sight) are enjoying my predicament

Anthony Rutter - Conservation Officer from the Greenvale Branch of FGA, Nicholas Rutter, Leo Rutter (3 generations of family involvement with FGA) and Simon Downie President, Metropolitan Branch of Field and Game Australia collecting rubbish for removal from Mill Parks Lakes.

Vic Dal Pra and Simon Downie install another nest box to Mill Park Lakes, Victoria, Australia.

Note: If you would like to build your own simply email me and I will forward a simple sketch. Our Metropolitan Branch encourages the community to build and install nest boxes in their own back yards.

Another great day out.

Project Completed: 12:35pm

"Don't just talk about Habitat Conservation get out there and do it"

Mission Statement
Field and Game Australia is a voluntary organisation formed by hunters. We partner with Government and the community in the management and sustainable utilisation of Australia's wetlands for future generation by protecting game habitats through conservation. We promote responsible firearm ownership, ethical hunting and clay target shooting. (www.fga.net.au)

I look forward to seeing you in the wetlands in 2003.
Regards,
John Caven
Conservation Officer, Metropolitan Branch, Field and Game Australia
C/O 148 Greenhills Road,
Bundoora. Victoria, Australia. 3083

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