We haven’t been able to get out there very often in the last few months, due to travel and wintery weather. However, in the last week in August we enjoyed a day on the property, conducting our vegetation monitoring. This was the first time we had monitored by ourselves, so it was a bit of a challenge, especially as we had to anchor the 50m tape at multiple points in order to resist the strong wind.
We managed two of the nominated spots without too much trouble, but we couldn’t find the two stones that marked our third spot. We did have the GPS points, but our GPS wouldn’t work despite the new batteries inserted that morning. Fortunately, our previous photos, combined with our memories, were enough to run a line out at a point very close to, and very similar to, the original location.
Our data and photos are at http://www.rogerclarke.com/Bunhybee/PhotoPoints.html
Overall, our results since the previous monitoring 2 and 4 years ago suggest an increase in native grass cover of about 10%. But we need to keep in mind that:
- the time of monitoring is too early for many of the native forbs, so grasses dominate
- the initial monitoring was undertaken immediately after stock had been removed from the site, so we can assume that grasses had been grazed down below ‘natural’ height
- the drought of 2000-09 has been followed by 2-1/2 years in which rainfall has been 30% above the long-term mean. Our rainfall data is here:
In view of these findings, we’re considering experimenting with some patch burning next autumn, to assess the effectiveness of fire on reducing the Themeda and advantaging the forbs. We’ve done some research, and participated in another conservation land-manager’s trial, and written ourselves some notes on how to conduct a cool burn.
On another matter, we were contacted recently by a local historian, Trish Downes,, who wanted to do some research on our property for her Honours degree. We were delighted, and we have now found out that Bunhybee was cleared of its forest in 1886, so its history as a grassland only goes back 125 years. (We’re focussing on species diversity; and woodlands and forests are less species-rich than grasslands; so are we conservationists, or preservationists??).
Interestingly,Trish has concluded that the Bunhybee name is a mistake due to illegible writing. What was originally transliterated from the local Aboriginal language as ‘Bunwybee’ was later mistakenly transcribed as ‘Bunhybee’, and that (mis-)spelling became the official name of the 936m Peak adjacent to our property.
We’re looking forward to another summer of fabulous flowers and grasses, and hope that we can get out there often enough to really enjoy it.