Monday, June 13, 2016


On our last Working Bee, Sunday the 6th Of June, some of us where lucky enough to see a new arrival to the Reserve, a Koala! According to long time resident and member of Friends of Upper Sweetwater, the last koala in the reserve was seen 25 years ago and sadly was killed by a dog attack.
So of course some information on Koalas seemed necessary.

                                                        Photo Courtesy of M.Elsworth

The koalas closest living relative is the wombat!
They are only found on the East Coast of Australia, are herbivores and eat 200-500g of leaves each day. Koalas from different regions eat the leaves from different gum trees. In Frankston they feed on our local Narrow Leafed Peppermint and Manna gums. Eucalyptus leaves are fibrous and low in nutrition. The koala has a specialised adaptation to cope with this by having a low metabolic rate, which allows the food to be retained in the digestive system for a long period of time which maximises the amount of energy to be extracted. Koalas also sleep between 18-22 hours each day to conserve energy.
As it is colder in Southern Australia, our koala`s fur is longer, shaggier, darker. They are also considerably larger than koalas up North. Males are distinguished by their brown scent gland in the centre of their chest, which they rub on tree trunks to deter other males. Males live for up to 10 years depending if their is enough habitat for them to disperse to.
Females start breeding from 3-4 years of age, live for about 12 years and may produce 5-6 offspring in her lifetime.
Koalas are highly territorial and individual members maintain their own `home range', which consists of home range trees and food trees. These trees provide the koala with food, shelter and places to socialise, which supports the koala for life. Home ranges of individual koalas overlap with their neighbour where social interaction occurs. After a koala has died, other koalas will not move into the empty home range for about a year, during which time scent markings and scratches of the old owner disappear.
When a young koala becomes sexually mature, it must leave the mother`s home range and find a territory of it`s own. The young koalas aim is to find another breeding group to join.

Placing roads or houses between a koalas home range can cut the koala off from adequate food and shelter and risk injury or death from dogs, cars and disease. Because of the overlapping structure of the koalas home range it can not simply move along to the next patch as the trees next door already belong to someone else and cannot support another koala. We can help koalas by keeping our dogs on leads in our Reserves, lock the dogs up at night when the koalas are active and plant Manna and peppermint gums in our gardens.

FUN FACT: Koalas are the only animal (like humans) that have individual fingerprints!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Tawny Frogmouths!

We are lucky enough to have 2 new residents in our Reserve and we are receiving lots of enquiries about them so a post on Tawny Frogmouths is required.

                                               Photo courtesy of Rhonda kennedy

Tawny Frogmouths are related to the owl but the closest relative is actually the Nightjar.
They are native throughout Australia and Tasmania (except far West Queensland and central Northern Terrritory).
As locals will have noticed the Tawny`s perch on low branches during the day and are camouflaged as part of the tree, often choosing a broken part of a tree branch. Pairs sit together with their bodies touching and partner for life. They will usually stay in the same territory for a decade or more.

Tawny Frogmouths are carniverous, their diet consisting of large nocturnal insects, moths, spiders, worms, slugs,snails, small mammals (mice), reptiles and frogs.

As Tawny Frogmouths have adapted to live in close proximity to humans they are at risk of exposure to pesticides and insecticides. Rodent poisons remain in the system of the target animal and can be fatal to the Tawny that eats them. They are also killed on roads during feeding as they fly in front of vehicles when chasing insects illuminated by the headlights.

We feel very lucky to having them choose our Reserve to live in.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Clean Up Australia Day

Photo courtesy of A. McNicol-Smith

FOUS participated in Clean Up Australia Day on Sunday the 6th of March. We had a great turnout of 10 people and we collected 7 bags of rubbish in the 2 hours. Half of these bags included recyclables of predominantly glass bottles. Clothing, 2 plastic chairs, a motorbike part, a huge piece of carpet and building materials were also collected.  It was a great effort by the group and what turned out to be great weather and an enjoyable day. A huge Thank You to the team!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


We had glorious Autumn weather for our Sunday Working Bee, we worked at the Heathland Track removing Bone Seed, Pittosporum and Sallow Wattle. All producers of copious amount of seeds, so it felt good removing them!.
 Our group was joined by a Pacific Black Duck who flew onto the bridge to get a closer look at us, (named Sand Castle by our 3 year old helper) and as we were finishing up a young kookaburra came over and practised his laugh for us. It was a rewarding morning and thanks to all who came to help out.  

                                               Photo Courtesy of R.Dill

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Horny Cone Bush very thorny!

Isopogon Ceratophyllus:

Found in coastal Healthland areas (like Upper Sweetwater Reserve) and grows in moist, well drained, sandy soil.
It is a slow growing shrub and has very thorny, hard leaves which branch off into segments of three and are antler shaped. Hence the name Ceratophyllus meaning antler leaved.
The Horny Cone bush flowers in Spring, followed by the seed pods and can take many years to flower and produce seed.
Look out for it, as it is quite a sight!.

                                           Photo courtesy of R.Kennedy

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

12th April Working Bee

We worked under the Cherry Belarts this Working Bee, removing Panic Veldt Grass and yes it makes one panic seeing how much they seed and spread, ?hence the name. This weedy grass was removed from the Green Hood Orchid patch along the main path of Upper Sweetwater Reserve, this reduces competition for the Orchids and ensures no spraying of the grassy weeds and accidental poisoning of the Green Hoods.
Thanks to all who attended!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Clover Glycine: Glycine Iatrobeana

Is a small perennial herb with leaves that look similar to the common Clover.
It`s low growing and initially spreads horizontally then the ends grow erect/ upwards. The leaves are round and group into 3 leaflets (similar to clover). 
The flowers are purple to pink, pea like and up to 6mm long. 
The seed pods are 15-25 mm long, covered in short hairs. The pods contain 3-5 ovoid seeds. 
 Flowers: Sept to Nov/Dec.

Habitat: Found across South Eastern Australia in Grasslands and Grassy Woodlands. Vulnerable in Upper Sweetwater Reserve.
·       Weed invasion
·       Clover Glycine is palatable to native and introduced grazing animals

·       Regular burning in Late Spring/ Early Summer