A Glorious Winter’s Day: Frahn’s Farm Planting Festival 2016

We were mainly looking down, getting our hands dirty, planting and guarding our precious seedlings from the kangaroos, but on looking up we could enjoy 3600 views and see as far as the silos at Monarto South. This 550 ha property is a mix of remnant mallee, revegetation from 30 years ago and ex-farming land but is still home to a great variety of birds, including a suite of woodland birds that are becoming very rare in the Mt Lofty Ranges.

We were planting into what was once an open woodland of sheoaks and mallee over a grassy understorey of native grasses, lomandras and an array of lilies, orchids and daisies.  This habitat has become rare and we aim to encourage its regeneration through a mix of weed control and planting. We will monitor the results of this management and over time see how the birds and animals respond to their new environment, adapting our techniques as we go.

Two Owlet Nightjar chicks in a nest box
Two Owlet Nightjar chicks in a nest box

Other activities taking place on the day were bird banding and nest box erection in the nearby revegetation. The 30-year old trees in the revegetation are not old enough to have developed natural  hollows, so by adding hollows we hope to make the area the complete package for birds like Red-rumped Parrots, Tree Martins and Owlet Nightjars and other hollow-nesters, giving them somewhere to breed as well as feed and shelter. The nest boxes were marked using a GPS and they will be checked to see what is using them and to make sure that undesirables, like starlings and feral honey bees, don’t take them over.

The birds we caught in the mist nets ranged from the tiny Yellow Thornbill, no longer than your middle finger, to a large adult male magpie and included a male Red-capped Robin, which shone like a jewel with his red breast and frontal spot. The highlight of the day was an already-banded robin which had travelled several kilometres from where it was caught eight years ago.

Sponsors were SA Murray Darling Basin NRM and Bio·R and it was pleasing to see Bio·R’s three cornerstones – Research, Reconstruct and Reconnect – all in evidence on this great day. We thank all the participants (some as young as 1‑year old) and look forward to them tracking the progress of their plants and the building of habitat for our precious native plants and animals.

Thanks to Tom Hunt for the magnificent photos.

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