NEWS FROM THE FIELD OF MARS
On 20 March 2021 we had another rain event with Buffalo Creek flooding. This forced the postponement of our Annual General Meeting (see below).
Picnic shelter for the ducks?...
...but the turkey doesn’t look happy.
Meanwhile, bushland flora has been healthy.
Leaf-curl spiders are making a comeback after their life cycle was disrupted during the unusual climatic conditions of 2019. Along the Sand Track and Fire Trail there is evidence of bandicoot activity. We receive more reports of wallabies in various areas, and recently a baby long-necked turtle was discovered in the grass to the east of the Visitor Centre.
Our entrance road (river?) - Photos by Pamela Ward
Something we did not expect to see was the recent lopping of the Grey Butcherbird’s home, a large Melaleuca on the Visitor Centre side of the Buffalo Creek bridge. A pity, since the tree was leaning over sideways but appeared to be of no danger to anyone:
Happier days – foliage to the left and over sign but... sadly what we now see is the stump and the old sign.
Most volunteer groups work under the direction of staff employed by City of Ryde Council; these being Peter (Kennedy Street + Roving), Sophie (Strangers Creek) and Jonatan (Monash Road + Visitor Centre). The Cemetery Creek 2 group works alone - supervision delegated to Pamela Ward. Sadly we farewelled Sophie last month, and Jonatan will step in until she is replaced.
In several sites we have been targeting mostly the same types of weeds including Summer grass (Digitaria spp.), Paddy’s Lucerne (Sida rhombifolia), Cobbler’s Pegs (Bidens pilosa), Blackberry nightshade (Solanum nigrum) and, at Monash Road, Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida).
The Sand Track at Cemetery Creek 2 was flooded again during the March rainstorm events, with water which did not stay in the creek! As previously mentioned, this is the result of altered drainage arrangements within the cemetery, so we made further changes to ensure walkers have a safe, dry track and are not likely to divert into, and thus damage, the adjacent bushland.
Field of Mars Reserve and Wildlife Refuge
Dry eucalypt woodland covers much of the Field of Mars Reserve. This vegetation is typical of the dry, infertile sandstone soils found in Sydney's north and is known as dry sclerophyll woodland. Many of the plants in this area have hard, waxy leaves that tend to be small and narrow, features which help to reduce moisture loss.
Despite being only 56 hectares in size, the reserve contains around 300 species of plants. These plants support an even greater array of animals from the tiniest spiders to large possums and birds.
Surveys conducted in 2006 found evidence of animals that were believed to be missing from the reserve. These include Sugar Gliders, Echidnas and Long Nosed Bandicoots. Control of pest species like foxes may be contributing to the return of animals to the reserve. Also Brush Turkeys are seen regularly and a swamp wallaby was observed in the reserve in 2012.
Along Buffalo and Stranger's Creeks there are long pockets of moist gully vegetation, known as wet sclerophyll forest. Different plant species flourish in the moist conditions found here. Wet sclerophyll forest is characterised by moist rich soils, shadiness and plants with dark green, soft leaves. The cool, moist conditions found within these gullies create the perfect habitat for some of the reserve's animals like finches, wrens, whip birds and ringtail possums.
The location of the Field of Mars:
You are very welcome to explore the Reserve using the walking tracks at any time of the day. The walking tracks of the Field of Mars: Field of Mars Walking Track System
The Field of Mars is a Wildlife Refuge gazetted under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. Dogs are not allowed in the Reserve. Riding of all types of bikes in the Reserve is also not allowed.
On weekends the RHHFFPS staffs a Visitors Centre in the Field of Mars (see opposite).
Click Here for information on the Plan of Management of the Field of Mars.
We still see large numbers of people passing by, with the daily count often over 100. Many come to the Centre for information but usually remain out on the veranda because, in accordance with our COVID Safe Procedures, visitors must write down their contact details if they venture inside. We often replenish supplies of track notes and maps; over 200 maps were taken in two months. The “What’s in a Name” and “Birds in the Field of Mars” leaflets are popular, too.
The Visitors Centre can be found in the Field of Mars off Pittwater Road. Parking is available in the carpark at the front. Volunteers open the centre each Saturday and Sunday.
Drop in to discover more about the environment and the Field of Mars Reserve before you explore and experience it for yourself!
The Visitors Centre can be reached on foot via a number of nearby streets. Car access is via Pittwater Rd. (opposite Buffalo Reserve). ph: 9816 1068
Winter schedule (April to August): Saturday and Sunday 9am - 4pm.
Summer schedule (September to March): Saturday and Sunday 9am - 5pm.
Enquiries from groups or individual wishing to visit during the week are welcome. Guided bush walks are available by arrangement when volunteers are available. Contact through email address: email@example.com or phone 9817 4935.
The Visitors Centre contains maps, brochures and information on local and wider community environment issues.
Visitors using prams, strollers, walking frames and wheel chairs have easy access to the Centre toilets. The boardwalk provides a short, easy bushwalk.
INVITATION! - JOIN OUR VISITOR CENTRE TEAM! We have a small number of members on a roster of 4- hour shifts to keep the Visitor Centre open on weekends and public holidays. We really enjoy spending time in the idyllic environment to chat with visitors to the Reserve, to help others in friendly manner and, at times when nobody else is around, to do a bit of reading or homework.
No specialised skills are required, and Alfred will happily provide the small amount of training needed. The frequency and times of each person’s shifts are negotiated individually, according to preferences and availability. If interested please email Alfred: firstname.lastname@example.org(phone 02 9879 6067).