The Society has been active in local conservation issues since 1966 and is well networked with the broader conservation movement across NSW.
The Society's Constitution states its Aims and Objectives as:
a. The education of the members and the community, particularly in the local area, in nature conservation and protection of the environment;
b. To promote ecologically sustainable land use and development;
c. To promote nature conservation including an adequate system of national parks, wilderness areas, nature reserves, wildlife refuges and corridors and urban bushland reserves; adequate protection measures for native wildlife;
d. Achieving satisfactory measures to safeguard the environment from all forms of pollution to ensure clean air, clean water and a healthy environment;
e. To work for the permanent retention and conservation of all natural areas in the local district and an increase in the area set aside for nature conservation and
f. To undertake the management of the Field of Mars Reserve with Ryde City Council as a major conservation project
We have a regular newsletter Wallumetta which is issued six times a year which attempts to update members on both local environmental issues and issues of wider impact. Our volunteer members keep the Visitors Centre open each weekend. Please contact us if you have concerns about threats to our local natural areas and the precious native fauna which depend on our sensitive bushland areas and waterways.
In the mid 1960s, with an increasing amount of waste needing disposal, Ryde Council looked to an expansion of the small tip in the Field of Mars Reserve. Council proposed to pipe Buffalo and Stranger's Creeks to facilitate a landfill area to a depth of up to 15m feet which could then be re-developed into playing fields. Local residents united to form the Anti-tip Action Group and lobbied to reverse Council's plans for a tip at the Field of Mars. The tip was moved to Porter's Creek which to this day still requires substantial funds to control the environmental damage arising from past use as a tipsite. With the Field of Mars saved the Society was established in January 1966.
In September 1966, Ryde Council advised the Society that it agreed to their proposal to development of the Field of Mars Reserve as a flora and fauna sanctuary. Hard work over following decades has seen restoration of old degraded areas of the Field of Mars and protection of the area as a Wildlife Refuge. A Visitors Centre was built and then the Environmental Education Centre which is visited by about 10,000 students each year.
Autumn is migration time as many bird species that like to make Sydney and regions further south home during the warm Spring and summer months head north to spend winter in milder climates.
Several small but colourful birds can be seen in the Field of Mars as they pass through. You might come across them by the Boardwalk in March and April and also on their way back south in September and October.
The Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons) is a small, fast moving orange bird with white and black markings. It forages with quick jerky flights in the low undergrowth of wetter gullies for insects, occasionally fanning its orange and black tail.
The Leaden Flycatcher (Myiagra rubecula) is a small blue/grey bird above with white underparts. The male and female differ with the female and immature birds having a pale orange throat. These birds also forage for insects but prefer dryer, more open forest.
The Black-faced Monarch (Monarcha melanopsis) is a small grey bird with a distinctive black forehead and throat and a rich orange belly. They also forage for insects in rainforest and wetter gullies.
There are always exceptions to the rule though.
The Rose Robin (Petroica rosea) is true to its name with the male having a rose breast, the upper parts are deep grey and white below. The female and immature birds are grey-brown and white.
They also like foraging for insects in moister gullies or high in the forest canopy. They return to Sydney in Autumn from higher areas such as the Blue Mountains, leaving again in Spring.
The Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus) also arrives in Sydney to spend the Winter and is arriving around Sydney now. One was recently seen in the Field of Mars passing through. They are a larger black bird with a red eye and distinctive forked or ‘fish’ tail. They are active, hawking insects from an exposed perch.
Check out the computer kiosk in the Visitor Centre for photos of these beautiful birds and listen to their calls so you can keep an eye and ear out for them during your walks.
Saturday 25 August: History and Features of the Field of Mars Reserve
Walks will be led by Phillip Ward, local resident from the 1950s and member of the Ryde Hunters Hill Flora and Fauna Preservation Society since inauguration in 1966.
Walks will depart from the Visitor Centre 1.30pm and 3.00pm
Saturday 6 October: Bird Walks (in anticipation of National Bird Week)
Walks will be led by our resident expert Cathy Goswell of the Cumberland Bird Observers’ Club.
First walk will begin 8.30am and a later walk will depart around 10.30am.
To join a walk:
Numbers on our guided walks are limited so bookings for these events are essential; phone Alfred 9879 6067 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Main entry is from Pittwater Road, opposite Buffalo Creek Reserve. Car parking is available in the carpark outside the gate, under the viaduct.
Nearby entrances are also at the end of Kennedy St, Westminster Rd and Monash Rd.
Bus route 506 is a half-hourly service along nearby Thompson Street.