Wildflower and Art Weekend a success!

The annual ANGAIR Wildflower and Art Weekend was greeted with a glorious spring day to welcome locals and visitors to the event.

This year featured a hands-on amphibian, reptile and insect experience by Roaming Reptiles, which was greatly received by children and adults alike. Read more

New online nature search launched

The Surf Coast Nature Search (SCNS), an interactive, online search tool for identifying weeds and indigenous plants in our region, has been launched.

The Surf Coast Nature Search homepage.
Surf Coast Nature Search homepage

The online resource, which has been developed by local volunteer group Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA),   is a detailed database of hundreds of indigenous plants and environmental weeds on the coast between Point Impossible and Bells Beach.

Users are able to search based on a range of criteria including plant type, flower colour, size, leaf shape and more.

JJCA Chairperson Luke Hynes said the website is a great local asset for locals that will help support an increase in environmental awareness.

Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson Luke Hynes uses the new database to search for the coastal shrub along the Surf Coast Walk.
Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson Luke Hynes uses the new database to search for the coastal shrub along the Surf Coast Walk.

“The SCNS database has been a dream of the JJCA group for many years,” he said.

To date, JJCA volunteers have added 181 plant species to database, which is expected to grow as species are added and the tool extends to include fauna and cover more areas of the Surf Coast.

“It’s exciting to think that people with a limited understanding of botanical terms will now be able to identify local plants, pinpoint environmental weeds in their backyard and learn more about the environmental impacts and benefits of particular species,” said Mr. Hynes.

JJCA group volunteer Graeme Stockton said one of the aims of the database is to help coastal property owners create environmentally friendly gardens.

JJCA Chairperson Luke Hynes and GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale test out the database on their walk.
JJCA Chairperson Luke Hynes and GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale test out the database on their walk.

“The SCNS is a simple tool for identifying environmental weeds in your garden and selecting indigenous alternatives,” he said.

Weeds, which easily escape from local gardens, have been identified as the number one threat to the natural environment on the coast due to their ability to out compete indigenous species.

“Indigenous plants are vital, providing vital habitat for local birds and animals,” said Mr. Stockton.

Mr Hynes said the group had worked hard with locally based web design experts Boojum to ensure the platform was as interactive and easy to navigate as possible.

“Our biggest challenge was trying to incorporate complex plant characteristics in a searchable format that is flexible and user friendly,” he said.

Luke and Georgie using the database to identify the coastal shrub along the Jan Juc cliffs
Luke and Georgie using the database to identify the coastal shrub along the Jan Juc cliffs

The database can be accessed at www.scnaturesearch.com.au.

The project was supported by a $5000 State Governments CoastCare Grant, $2500 Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Coastal Grant and $1000 Surf Coast Shire Grant.

Check out the Surf Coast Nature Search today and see how many plants you can identify from your garden! Let us know how many indigenous plants you find in your backyard in the comments below. 

Wildflower Weekend a Growing Success

The indigenous orchids were hugely popular over the weekend.
The indigenous orchids were hugely popular over the weekend. Photo: ANGAIR.

Over 1, 300 attendees enjoyed the activities and displays available at the 2014 Annual Wildflower Weekend and Art Show held 20-21 September, hosted by Anglesea, Aireys Inlet Society for the Protection of Flora and Fauna (ANGAIR).

The EstuaryWatch marquee was popular amongst children, with the Water Big activity allowing children to view tiny animals in their natural marine habitat.
The EstuaryWatch marquee was popular amongst children, with the Water Big activity allowing children to view tiny animals in their natural marine habitat.

The Show, which saw an increase in numbers this year, aims to celebrate local flora and fauna and raise awareness around current environmental issues.

The 2014 Show included a versatile range of indigenous flora, guided wildflower walks and bus tours, plant sales, bird watching, plant propagation, children’s activities, and art and craft stalls.

There was a mixture of beautiful indigenous flora and information.
There was a mixture of beautiful indigenous flora and information on the day.

The Estuary Watch ‘Water Bug’ children’s activity proved popular, allowing children to view living animals in their natural aquatic habitat through a microscope.

Estuary Watch Coordinator Rose Herben said children enjoyed the activity which raised awareness of the water quality and river health of local waterways.

“A highlight of the day was identifying a large dragonfly, known for its alien like retractable jaw,” she said.

Callum McNeil was excited to see the tiny marine animals come to life.
Callum McNeil was excited to see the tiny marine animals come to life.

ANGAIR President Helen Tutt said feedback from the day had been positive, with more emphasis on marine life this year.

“Above the stage, there was a beautiful screen display covered in marine photography – it looked stunning,” she said.

One new addition to the weekend was the Friends of Eagle Park marine-themed stage.
One new addition to the weekend was the Friends of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary marine-themed stage.
The Friends of Eagle Rock marine sanctuary beach-themes stage looked just like the real thing with local bird statues.
The Friends of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary beach-themed stage looked just like the real thing.

If you would like more information regarding similar events and activities, visit the ANGAIR website here.

Did you attend the Annual Wildflower and Art Show? What was your favourite part?

Hope for Orchid survival

The vulnerable Swamp Diuris orchid has a brighter future thanks to a fungus-focused regeneration program led by the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA).

The process has involved Royal Botanic Gardens Orchid Conservation Officer Neil Anderton, with assistance from JJCA volunteers, taking small root samples of the orchid which is growing at Bird Rock, Jan Juc.

JJCA volunteers Roma Edwards, Tom Elford, and Ian Edwards with Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale (second from left) observe Orchid Conservation Volunteer Neil Anderton as he safely removes a root sample.
JJCA volunteers Roma Edwards, Tom Elford, and Ian Edwards with Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale (second from left) observe Orchid Conservation Volunteer Neil Anderton as he safely removes a root sample.

Mr. Anderton said taking the root samples was the first of many steps in the process, which would hopefully result in the production of precious orchid seedlings.

“This is a non-destructive method which means the plant usually continues to grow as it would before the procedure,” he said.

After the roots were removed from the plants’ stems using sterilized equipment, Mr. Anderton worked with Nursery Technician Chris Jenek to extract crucial fungi which will be used to create healthy, thriving Swamp Diurus seedlings for future planting.

The exposed roots of the Swamp Diurus orchid. Neil removed the healthy root growing on the left side to for the fungi extraction.
The exposed roots of the Swamp Diurus orchid. Neil removed the healthy root growing on the left side to for the fungi extraction.

Neil Anderton said land clearance was a major contributor in the dwindling orchid species population, with very few Swamp Diurus communities remaining.

“I have assessed the area and estimate there are around 50 plants flowering or in bud at BirdRock presently.

“There are Swamp Diurus populations inland near St Arnaud, Stawell and Nhill, and further west from Port Campbell.

“However, land clearance has reduced the species range dramatically, meaning it is now listed as vulnerable in Victoria,” he said.

The beautiful Swamp Diurus orchid is listed as vulnerable in Victoria with one of the few communities remaining in Jan Juc.
The beautiful Swamp Diurus orchid is listed as vulnerable in Victoria with one of the few communities remaining in Jan Juc.

JJCA Volunteer Ian Edwards attended the Swamp Diurus recovery day, helping Mr. Anderton collect the fungi samples.

“We hope to learn more about the Swamp Diurus plant and how we can help protect it for future generations,” he said.

Jan Juc Coast Volunteers Tom Elford (left) and Ian Edwards share their conservation beliefs at the orchid-recovery day.
Jan Juc Coast Volunteers Tom Elford (left) and Ian Edwards share their conservation beliefs at the orchid-recovery day.

Mr Edwards, a long-term member of JJCA since 1994, said land degradation had resulted in severe impacts on the indigenous floral population, as had introduced species.

“From 1860 onwards, sheep and cattle grazed on the fragile land for about 100 years.

“Plants brought in from other countries and even other parts of Australia have also severely impacted on native species.

“Weed seedlings have spread to local land where they compete for survival with (often weaker) indigenous species, gradually killing them,” he said.

Neil Anderton of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne takes all the necessary precautions, ensuring the Swamp Diurus has the best chance of survival.
Neil Anderton of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne takes all the necessary precautions, ensuring the Swamp Diurus has the best chance of survival.

If you would like support the JJCA’s environmental work, contact Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438 or click here for more information on other groups operating in our region.

Rare orchid flowers following fire

Autumn orchids are flowering across the Surf Coast including a rare species which rarely flowers unless stimulated by fire.

The Fringe Hare Orchid (Leporella fimbriata) sighted in Anglesea, flowering well after fire, is found in sandy soils and flowers mainly from March to May. Photo: Margaret MacDonald
The Fringed Hare Orchid (Leporella fimbriata) sighted in Anglesea, flowering well after fire, is found in sandy soils and flowers mainly from March to May. Photo: Margaret MacDonald

Anglesea, Aireys Inlet Society for the Protection of Flora and Fauna (ANGAIR) sighted a number of orchids during their nature ramble walk, including the Fringed Hare Orchid (Leporella fimbriata).

Orchid expert Gary Backhouse said while the species is common in Western Victoria, with some colonies containing many hundreds of plants, the Fringed Hare Orchid only flowers under special conditions.

“It flowers well only after summer bushfires, with only a small proportion (sometimes none) in flower in the absence of summer fire.”

ANGAIR member Yvonne Coventry said she was one of five who had sighted the orchid.

“The area has undergone a burn in the last 12 months so there were a number of different plants coming up including a small patch of Fringed Hare Orchids.

“The Fringed Hare Orchid is very beautiful and very rare,” she said.

Mr Backhouse said the Fringed Hare Orchid does not only flower in specific conditions, but requires specific circumstances for pollination as well.

Winged male ants pollinate the plant by attempting to mate with the labellum (part of the petal that forms a lip) as they are attracted by the orchid’s scent which mimics that of a female ant.

“The winged males usually emerge from their nests only in warm, humid conditions, often just before rain, and have a very short flight period.

“There may be some years when orchid flowering and male ant emergence do not coincide, and very few, if any, flowers will be pollinated.”

Fringed Hare Orchid 2

Other orchids spotted by ANGAIR members this month include over thirty Fringed Midge Orchids (Corunastylis ciliate), a species which had not yet been sighted this year and the Parson’s Band Orchid (Eriochilus cucullatus).

ANGAIR and Friends of the Eastern Otways member Margaret MacDonald said there are 110 species of orchids in the Anglesea area and that there were many things we don’t yet understand about the plant.

“All orchids are rare and protected and they interest me because of their beauty, uniqueness and complexity.

“People can get involved by joining the Australasian Native Orchid Society which is based in Geelong or by contacting ANGAIR and arranging a walk,” she said.

ANGAIR holds guided walks every second Monday of the Month.  To learn more about orchids on the Surf Coast or to get involved please contact the ANGAIR office on: 5263 1085 or visit www.angair.org.au.  

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column.

Related Blog Posts:

swamp-diuris-diuris-palustris1 Rare orchid Survives on edge
spider-orchid-smallANGAIR wildflower show this weekend
kookaburra Indigenous gardens come to life

Rare orchid survives on edge

A little known orchid is existing on the Jan Juc cliff top, its precarious survival an unexpected and happy surprise for local volunteer group Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA).

The rare and state significant orchid Swamp Diuris (Diuris palustris) formerly populated areas near Melbourne but became locally extinct due to urban development.

JJCA has been working to ensure the orchid’s survival.  In 2010 the group pollinated the flowers and collected seed.  The delicate operation consisted of members getting down on their hands and knees to pollinate the tiny orchid flowers with tooth-picks.

Graeme Stockton and Roma Edwards from JJCA in the process of planting minute “home grown” Diuris seedlings. PHOTO: Ian Edwards

JJCA member Ian Edwards was one of the volunteers assisting in the project.

“We simulated the action of the tiny native bees or wasps that may be the natural pollinator and by late summer it was possible to collect some of the dust-like seed,” said Mr. Edwards.

Last year JJCA volunteers also found large numbers of Sun Orchids (Thelymitra spp.) and Onion Orchids (Microtis spp.) in the remnant native grassland of the Jan Juc clifftop, these also rely on the presence of specific soil fungi and specific insect pollinators.

JJCA Chairman Luke Hynes said like the Swamp Diuris, the Sun Orchids and Onion Orchids also rely on the presence of specific soil fungi and specific insect pollinators.

“We had seen few previously, but with the regular rainfall this year there is a profusion,” he said.

JJCA Committee member Graeme Stockton said the introduction of foreign pasture grasses, and invasion by a host of weeds and escaped garden plants have crowded out much of the original vegetation.

“We are amazed that so many indigenous plants have survived the past century and a half and they deserve all the assistance we can provide,” he said.   

Springtime brings an abundance of wildflowers along the coast – what have you spotted this season?

To get involved with JJCA  contact Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438

ANGAIR Wildflower Show this weekend!

With the end of September fast approaching, the annual ANGAIR Wildflower Weekend and Art Show is on again, offering an opportunity to experience amazing wildflower displays, wildflower walks and tours, kids activities and much more.

Orchids, such as this Spider Orchid, will be a feature of the Wildflower Weekend and Art Show.

With the remarkable number of orchids and other wildflowers that grow throughout the Anglesea and Aireys Inlet district flowering in springtime, the Wildflower Weekend provides the perfect opportunity for visitors to admire the beauty on display.

Mayfly Orchids are one of the orchids that grow in the Anglesea district.

The show includes spectacular displays of native flowers and opportunities for people to take guided walks and bus tours to visit the bushland and flora reserves to see indigenous flowers in their natural habitat. There are also native plants books on environmental subjects, cards and various forms of craftwork for sale.

This year, GORCC will be holding a fun, interactive stall with educational activities provided free for all ages.  GORCC has commissioned local organisation EcoLogic to run the activities which all have a coastal focus.

Georgie Beale from our GORCC Conservation Team will also be there to answer questions and chat to community members about GORCC and what we do,  so feel free to come over and say hi! Georgie is an expert on conservation and land management and can answer your questions about our environmental work and how you can care for the coast.

All proceeds from the show will go towards land conservation purposes.

 Come down to the Anglesea Memorial Hall, McMillan Street Anglesea from 10am-4:30pm this weekend of the 22nd and 23rd September to get involved in all the wildflower action!

For more information, click here, email info@angair.org.au or call 5263 1085.