Author Archives: Wayne Olling

Parklea Correctional Centre Bird Survey

Parklea Correctional Centre in Western Sydney has two wetlands, one very large and one smaller, which have probably been the product of extensive landscaping works on what was perhaps a rural dam and drainage line prior to purchase of the land for a correctional centre by the government two or more decades ago.

The landscaping and the quiet surroundings of the secured outer grounds of Parklea Correctional Centre provide an ideal habitat for a wide variety of birds, particularly water birds.

The following aerial image shows the two wetlands to the west and south-west of the buildings:

Parklea Correctional Centre

The large wetland, by our estimate, occupies 5ha of area and includes quite a sizable island which is well supplied with trees. To the south and north of the wetland are expansive areas of naturally occurring and planted trees. There are shrubs dotting the area to the south but shrubs, particularly Kunzea ambigua, are in more dense supply in the northern area. Native grasses , herbs and groundcovers are in ample supply (along with weed species) but unless protected by shrubs they are subjected to regular slashing. Goodenia, Phyllanthus and Zornia species are well represented.

Management of Parklea Correctional Centre kindly permitted Mark Fuller and Edwin Vella of Cumberland Bird Observers Club as well as Peter Ridgeway and Wayne Olling to conduct a walkaround survey of birds on 12 April 2014.

The day was overcast and rain had fallen prior to the survey. The wetland was full of water and, being at the tail of the season for migratory wading birds, conditions were not best for finding those birds. They were absent.

However, such is the capacity of the wetland to attract a wide range of water birds in the warmer and drier months of the year we anticipate the site would be ‘alive’ with these birds when other wetlands might be struggling.

All things considered, we were not disappointed with the number of birds detected in the two hours of observation. In and around the wetland and in the wooded areas a total of fifty (50) bird species (some introduced) were detected and they can be found here:

Black Swan Cygnus atratus 1
Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa
Chestnut Teal Anas castanea 6
Hardhead Aythya australis 12
Australasian Grebe Tachybaptus novaehollandiae 10
Australian White Ibis Threskiornis moluccus
Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia 1
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus 20
Eastern Great Egret Ardea alba modesta 1
White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae 1
Little Pied Cormorant Microcarbo melanoleucos 1
Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris 3
Australasian Darter Anhinga novaehollandiae 1
Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus 1
Australasian Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra approx. 300
Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles
Rock Dove Columba livia
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis
Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes
Long-billed Corella Cacatua tenuirostris
Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea
Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus moluccanus
Musk Lorikeet Glossopsitta concinna
Eastern Rosella Platycercus eximius
Red-rumped Parrot Psephotus haematonotus
Superb Fairywren Malurus cyaneus
Yellow-faced Honeyeater Lichenostomus chrysops
White-plumed Honeyeater Lichenostomus penicillatus
Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala
Red Wattlebird Anthochaera carunculata
Eastern Spinebill Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris
Yellow Thornbill Acanthiza nana
Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus
Black-backed Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen
Pied Currawong Strepera graculina
Black-faced Cuckooshrike Coracina novaehollandiae
Australian Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis
Rufous Whistler Pachycephala rufiventris
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus 1
Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
Magpie-lark Grallina cyanoleuca
Restless Flycatcher Myiagra inquieta 1
Australian Raven Corvus coronoides
Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis
Double-barred Finch Taeniopygia bichenovii

We are indebted to management of Parklea Correctional Centre for the maintenance of a viable bird habitat in Western Sydney and for affording us the opportunity to observe its function.

For some pics of the wetland and some of the birds sighted subscribe via this website for the Cumberland Conservation Newsletter. Courtesy of Mark Fuller and Edwin Vella the pics appear in the May issue of the Newsletter.

Wayne Olling

Catherine Fields & Marsden Park North Urban Development Precincts

Catherine Fields

The announcement by Premier Barry O’Farrell on Saturday 28 December 2013 about the release of land at Catherine Fields for over 3,000 houses gives cause for discomfort to conservationists. This writer has not walked the site but it is noted Eco Logical did the flora & fauna survey and the aerial image below indicates most of the canopy is along creeklines. Presumably, this is to be retained. As well, a recommendation was made for trees with hollows away from creeklines to be retained. Disturbingly, the site is inhabited by the TSC listed Australian Bittern yet Eco Logical has been weak in not recommending retention of the large rural dam in the centre of the site. OEH recommended retention but is not strong on it. The exhibited site plan proposed removal of the dam for housing. We don’t know as yet whether it has been retained in the final site plan:

Catherine Field Aerial

Marsden Park North Precinct

Is Greater Western Sydney going to be worth living in?  It is the target of get-rich-quick land developers at a pace never before seen. Western Sydney does not have the beaches, the harbour, the sea breeze enjoyed by those in inner Sydney or east and north of Sydney. Greater Western Sydney has only its bush – its flora & fauna – but the modern day ‘development’ mentality is determined to take that from us and leave us with a sea of concrete, bitumen and brick. The development lobby have access to government and they have their way.

Hard on the heels of the Catherine Fields Urban Development announcement is the finalisation of negotiations between land owners and the government for another urban development called Marsden Park North. These follow announcements of development in other places in South-Western Sydney such as Oran Park and Edmondson Park (to name two) and development precincts in Riverstone, Marsden Park Industrial Estate and a 10,000 house estate across the road from Marsden Park North on the former historic ‘Clydesdale’ site. Once rural settings are being obliterated.

Marsden Park North Precinct is bounded by Richmond Road, South Creek, Eastern Creek and Garfield Road West. That part of the precinct we shall now refer to is bounded by South Creek to the west & north, Richmond Rd to the south, Park Rd to the east and Eastern Creek to the east and north and it is outlined in red on the map below. We don’t know all the conservation and heritage values of the land but we do know some.

In the 19th Century St Phillip’s Church of England church building was constructed just off Richmond Rd and just short of South Creek. A cemetery was also commissioned and became the burial site for some of the Lock family through whom present day Darug people are descended. Other pioneers such as the Worboys were also buried there. A surprise to the people then and something to be noted by Planners today is that South Creek can flood exceptionally high. The wooden church building was washed away by flood long ago. Only the small cemetery with its headstones (some overgrown with grass) remains today although the Anglican Diocese of Sydney still owns the small area albeit surrounded by the large land holding of development proponent Angliss Estate (Garfied). The site is included in the LEP of the City of Blacktown as an historical site.

Along the margins of South Creek are some old growth Eucalyptus moluccana and Eucalyptus amplifolia. Also, in the floodplain of South Creek is a wealth of water birds – frequenting, inhabiting, foraging and breeding. On the eastern portion of the site and easily visible from Park Road is bushland containing abundant TSC listed Grevillea juniperina and Pultenaea parviflora. The land is habitat for a mob of at least 40 kangaroos and Lace Monitors have been seen.

A particular area adjoining and including the Angliss Estate along Park Road is identified in the City of Blacktown’s LEP because of its Aboriginal heritage significance – it is the site of a large number of Silcrete rocks & boulders. Advice from Darug elders indicates the area was a work site of early indigenous people for the making of tools, implements and weapons. A healthy Eucalyptus tereticornis at the base of the site is said to give appearance of dating back at least to the mid 19th Century and, as such, would add interpretation to the foregoing.

Here is a Google Earth image of the Angliss  and MAC 1 estates we speak of:

Marsden Park North Precinct - Aerial

Red outline signifies approximate boundary of the currently considered Angliss Estate and MAC 1 development footprint.

We are left to await the extent of sympathy existing within development proponents and government for the natural and cultural  heritage of Western Sydney and, more specifically, the City of Blacktown.

Immediately below are images of water birds observed by others on the site. Near the bottom of the gallery is the headstone of one of the Lock family buried at the site. It is that of Jane Lock, daughter-in-law of Maria Lock, sister to Colebee. Maria Lock is present day Darugs’ link to their early heritage. Other Lock family headstones (not Maria’s) are thought to be covered by grass. The final two photos present as a bushland scene said to contain 50 to 100 Silcrete boulders amid grass and leaf litter and, among the boulders, are what Darug elders say are discarded Silcrete Flakes (chips). The boulders are thought to have been ‘worked’ by early indigenous people for the making of tools, weapons and implements.

MP 1 Australian%20Painted%20Snipe%20-%20Riverstone,%20NSW%20-%20071012%20-%207MP 2 Australian Painted Snipe Riverstone    MP 6 Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Riverstone

Australian Painted Snipe                                     Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

MP 4 Pacific Golden Plover Riverstone    Australian Painted Snipe Riverstone NSW

Pacific Golden Plover                                            Australian Painted Snipe

MP 3 Black-winged Stilt Riverstone    MP 5 Plumed Whistling-duck Riverstone

Black-winged Stilt                                                  Plumed Whistling-duck

MP 7 Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Riverstone   MP 8 water birds Riverstone

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper                                             Assorted Water Birds

Waterfowl Riverstone NSW   Marsden Park North Precinct - 21 Dec 2013 007

Waterfowl                                                               Gravestone of Jane Lock in Cemetery

Marsden Park - Indigenous Stone Work Site  003    Marsden Park North Precinct - 2 Jan 2014 003

Suggested Indigenous Stone Work Site                Discarded Red Silcrete ‘Flakes’ are abundant

 

 

 

 

EPBC Act – One-Stop-Shop – Response to Draft Guidelines

To assist Conservationists in responding (by 18 December 2013) to draft guidelines for the proposed one-stop-shop  of EPBC Act ‘Referrals’ we provide content of the submission by Blue Mountains Conservation Society which raises salient points.

You can draw from BMCS’s submission for your own short submission in hope of salvaging something from the wreck of weakening of EPBC Act administration.

Many thanks to Blue Mountains Conservation Society for help in this.

See: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/environment-protection/environment-assessments/bilateral-agreements/nsw for details of where to get and send information.

Nature of the proposed arrangement

The Bilateral Agreement has been presented as a platform for streamlining assessment processes while maintaining environmental outcomes in NSW.

Any legitimate attempt to reduce duplication in environmental planning would surely consolidate the responsibilities of our States and Territories into the Commonwealth; not divulge Commonwealth responsibilities into seven duplicate State jurisdictions.

The proposal in its successive iterations has been transparently a response to sectors of the business community who are opposed to the Commonwealth governments high environmental assessment standards. The NSW community and the ICAC have repeatedly raised alarm regarding this effective absolution of Commonwealth responsibilities which will significantly exacerbate corruption in NSW planning and assessment.

The Blue Mountains Conservation Society reiterate our opposition to the proposed Bilateral Agreement. However we also have specific concerns regarding the nature and detail of the current Draft Agreement. These concerns follow.

Direct alteration of Federal assessment criteria

The Society opposes the use of the Bilateral Agreement to substantially alter the Federal assessment criteria.

Presently the Environmental Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 section 139 provides that:

‘the Minister must not act inconsistently with:
(b) a recovery plan or threat abatement plan’. (own highlighting)

It is our understanding that this requirement extends to the preparation of assessment material by the Minister’s department.

Section 6.8 of the proposed Bilateral Agreement instead requires NSW, when preparing Assessment Reports, to merely ‘take into account’ Recovery Plans, Threat Abatement Plans, and the Commonwealth EPBC Act Environmental Offsets Policy. This constitutes a substantial shift of the assessment benchmark and would further cripple our ability to implement threatened species protection in NSW.

Section 6.8 must be revised to require NSW to ‘act consistently with’ Recovery Plans, Threat Abatement Plans, and the Commonwealth EPBC Act Environmental Offsets Policy when developing Assessment Reports.

We note that the attempt to use the Bilateral Agreement process to substantively alter the Federal assessment benchmark is cynical and a serious breach of trust with the NSW community.

The role of precedent and practice

As with any regulatory body successive Federal environment departments have developed a community of practice. This includes formalised non-legislated instruments such as codes of practice and assessment criteria. It also includes precedent on assessment decisions – most importantly a tradition of what is considered an acceptable environmental impact.

The degree to which a bilateral arrangement effectively protects our threatened biodiversity depends to a considerable degree on the maintenance of this precedence and practice. The Bilateral Agreement is disturbingly silent on how codes of practice, assessment criteria and precedent will be consolidated. We raise two key questions in this regard:

  • Will Federal written codes of practice and assessment criteria be maintained? If so, which ones?
  • Will precedent regarding Federal assessment benchmarks be maintained in decision making, or will the lower State benchmark precedent be used?

These matters are too serious to be left to an Administrative Agreement (s 9.1) beyond the public scrutiny. Rather they must be addressed up-front and transparently within the Bilateral Agreement.

Assessment Reports and public consultation

Aspects regarding the public consultation process are unclear and require resolution within the Bilateral Agreement instrument. No provision is made for a review of public submissions or for their incorporation as Appendices in Assessment Reports. The Bilateral Agreement must be amended to provide for a genuine review of public submissions as an integral step of the assessment process.

Stop-the-clock provisions

The apparent position that stop-the-clock provisions are unnecessary is alarmingly uninformed. Proposals are frequently lodged without sufficient information to allow an informed decision however it is typically not possible to determine the sufficiency of lodged data without first accepting and thoroughly assessing an application. Provisions to pause the assessment timeframe while necessary information is provided are essential for a functional planning system. Since existing provisions differ between State and Federal departments this is an area which the Bilateral Agreement must address. It is not appropriate to address this within the confines of an Administrative Agreement beyond public scrutiny and comment.

We hope that the exhibition of the draft Assessment Bilateral Agreement provides occasion for the serious failings of this proposal to be given legitimate attention.

The Society in representing our local community reiterate our appeal that the current program of planning intemperance is stemmed, and instead that NSW can progress once more toward an informed, balanced and corruption-free planning system.

Australian Wildlife Conservancy – Presentation – 27 November 2013

Glenorie Maroota Bioregional Forum is hosting Shauna Chadlowe from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) to deliver a visual presentation on the general principles of AWC and how they operate with case study examples of their innovative work.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) aims to conserve all Australian animal species and their habitats.

In order to do this AWC is establishing a network of sanctuaries to protect species and ecosystems. At the present moment AWC manages 23 sanctuaries which cover over 7.4 million acres.

On ground measures are implemented in these sanctuaries to protect the wildlife and ecosystems that occur there. These measures are based on continuing scientific research with the aim of addressing key threatening processes.

AWC hosts visitor programs at it’s sanctuaries for the educational opportunities this provides and to promote an awareness of the plight of Australian Wildlife.

AWC is an independent, non profit organisation which over the last five years has spent 90% of its total expenditure on the acquisition of land and conservation programs.

Your attendance is welcome

At: Glenorie Hall, 1729 Old Northern Rd, Glenorie
On: Wednesday 27th November 2013
Presentation begins at 7.30 pm

A light supper will be served after the presentation which will provide a good opportunity for local like-minded people to network

Newsletter

Following the forum on plants & animals of the Cumberland Plain held on 29 June 2013 several attendees expressed an interest in receiving a periodic email newsletter.

The first of our newsletters was distributed to subscribers on 8 August 2013.

If you would like to subscribe just let us know via the Contact Us page on this website.