Sunday, September 20, 2009

awesome ornithorinkids

Today I went to learn more about our local platypus population in the Monbulk Creek. The Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group had organised Awesome “Ornithorinkids”, a chance for children to learn about what they can do to help our platypus in the wild.

Part of the children's activities was naming this friendly platypus, in the end she was dubbed 'Tilly'.

The afternoon was full of activities with children getting their face painted, making platypus, colouring in, playing games with the help of the Len Jeffrey Pre School from Belgrave South.

Low flows of Monbulk Creek are a likely contributor to the drop in platypus numbers in the Monbulk Creek.

Dr Rod Armistead spoke to the group about the water quality of Monbulk Creek, recent platypus activity and platypus counts that have seen a drop in the local population. Rod talked about how important it was to make sure platypus had good habitat and food sources. He also spoke of the danger of rubbish to platypus, particularly plastic, fishing line/nets and elastic/hair bands.

This is Rod and I in front of a section of Belgrave Lake where a significant infestation of Willows has been removed by the Melbourne Waterways Alliance. Platypus numbers are most likely at sites where substantial numbers of native trees and shrubs grow on the banks. It won't be long before natural regeneration will see this part of the waterway return to good health.

Part of the day included a walk to inspect the recent willow removals in the Belgrave Lake (see blog). Willows create an impenetrable mat which prevents platypus from feeding in that part of the lake, their leaves contain a chemical that has an adverse effect on water quality so they are bad news for our local platypus.

From left to right: Merlin Brown - Friends of Monbulk Ck Colby Drive, Hilary Doulton - Belgrave South Community House, Darcy Duggan - Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group, Cr Samantha Dunn - Lyster ward, Jackie Glenn - Southern Dandnongs Landcare Group, Vicki Boyle - Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group and Anne Elizabeth - Friends of Hazelvale Valley. All passionate about our environment and committing many volunteer hours to the task of making our environment weed free and in good health.

It was a great day out and we all got some tips about how to spot our local platypus and the part we can play in making sure their ongoing survival. Well done to the SDLG, it was a great learning experience for young and old alike!

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