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Yellingbo, Woori Yallock Creek sub-catchment, Australia
Have you ever wanted to contribute to conservation of a threatened species? The Helmeted Honeyeater is Victoria's state emblem and is listed as: 1. Critically endangered (DSE Advisory List Of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna In Victoria - 2007) 2. Threatened (Victorian Govt. Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988) 3. Critically endangered (Federal Govt. Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999) Can people make a difference to this bird's long-term survival? We believe anyone can. Check out the 'Take action' button on our homepage (www.helmetedhoneyeater.org.au), then contact us for more details.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Your input needed - public submissions close 20 February 2012

Have your say about public land and biodiversity in the Yellingbo area

The Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) has been asked by the State government to provide advice on the biodiversity and ecological values on public land near the Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve, identify threats and opportunities in relation to these values, and make recommendations relating to appropriate management arrangements. More information including a map of the public land in the investigation area can be found here.

VEAC is receiving public submissions until 20 February 2012.

Your feedback is important and you may wish to:

This investigation is the result of over 6 years of lobbying by local environmental groups and a positive outcome will be vital for the long-term conservation of this area - home to the critically endangered Helmeted Honeyeater and endangered Leadbeaters Possum.

Please help us spread the message.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2011-12 breeding news

We are currently recording the highest number of breeding pairs of Helmeted Honeyeaters in Yellingbo since the 2004/2005 breeding season; 17 (there may be a couple more pairs to confirm too!). 15 fledglings have been confirmed (but one disappeared quickly). A family group has also been spotted in a 'new' section of the reserve. Healesville Sanctuary's captive breeding program also reports that 8 of the Sanctuary's 13 pairs have bred, which is a terrific result too!

The breeding season extends into February, so we are quietly hopeful of a good breeding season.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

With a little help from our friends...

It's so nice to get some feedback isn't it?! This email arrived today:

Dear Sue and Bruce, Michelle and the friends group

Now it's coming to the end of the year we just wanted to say a big thanks for having us at the reserve and giving us the opportunity to get some experience with the planting days and in the nursery.

We have had an amazing time and have thoroughly enjoyed coming up to the reserve.

Our work at the reserve was a real advantage with our job interviews at Parks Victoria and Parks were really keen to hear about our involvement with the friends group.

Now that we have our Summer Rangers positions we are going to miss coming up to the reserve every week but we're really keen to continue volunteering in the new year.

Big thanks and we look forward to seeing you next year.

Tina, Jayne and Rachael

Looking for a great way to help your local community and yourself at the same time? Check out how you can get involved?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Can we go over the bridge?

Floods, floods, floods. 2011 & 2012 have been years of flooding in Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve. After 45 mm of rain in the Dandenong Ranges, Jack and Sean checked out the impact downstream in Woori Yallock Creek. Pretty significant! Usually 3-4 metres wide, Woori Yallock Creek was over 30 metres across in some places! A day later, the creek was back to 'normal', revealing revegetation areas that didn't show any worse for wear.

Find out more about why Yellingbo is a special place here

Image: Jack and Sean really wanted to explore the other side of the bridge.
Photographer: Jan Tardif

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Vale Harold Johnson 2-1-1921 to 22-5-2011

REG Johnson, who returned from flying duties in World War II to become the Victorian

government's chief cartographer and draughtsman and then played a leading role as a
conservationist and environmentalist, died at the age of 90, still sharing his vast
knowledge with students.

He gave his time unstintingly to community work, and obstacles were minor hiccups.
Victoria's bird emblem, the helmeted honeyeater, owes its official status to Johnson,
who was the convener and blistered-hands shovel man of a group dedicated to restoring
degraded creek land at Silvan in what was a remnant of the bird's original habitat.

For years, Johnson and his wife, Kathleen, and co-members of the Bird Observers Club
of Australia lobbied governments to halt private clearings on public land, and coaxed
politicians to see this elusive bird, with its erectile helmet, still nesting in the
area. Eventually, government funding meant additional land could be bought along
creeks, leading to the establishment of Yellingbo Conservation Reserve. Many of the
indigenous eucalypts there today are
Johnson's plantings.

The helmeted honeyeater's existence and status remain precarious, but no one did more
for its chance of survival than Johnson. For him, the protection of public land was a
moral obligation. On one well-known occasion in 1969, when Henry Bolte's government
announced its intention to subdivide the Little Desert into farms, Johnson was
instrumental in forming a coalition of concerned groups to save its fragile
environment with its vulnerable species.

It was Johnson's encyclopaedic knowledge of the environment and his vision of
enhancing natural habitats that led to Land for Wildlife. The initial response from
officialdom was tepid, but he persistently trod on toes in a gentlemanly fashion
until politicians and bureaucrats agreed that wildlife habitat on private land would
diversify gene pools. Johnson and the nature writer and amateur ornithologist Ellen
McCulloch, OAM, jointly ensured the launch of Land for Wildlife, which is now a
national undertaking with thousands of participating properties.

Excerpt taken from: The Age. Date: 02/09/2011. Page: 18

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011-12 Helmeted Honeyeater breeding season

Keep checking in for an update.

They're off to an early start out in the wild at Yellingbo. 2 pairs have eggs and 4 additional nests are being built.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Guest speaker - Peter Menkhorst

Guest speaker - Peter Menkhorst, Chair
of the Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Team
  • Sunday 4 September 2011
  • 12 noon start (lunch at Robert Eadie Pavilion)
  • 2pm AGM (theaterette)
  • 3.30pm finish
Venue: Healesville Sanctuary - free entry with your paid up membership. Join now to take advantage of this great offer.

Review of the Reintroduction Strategy is underway

Much has been learnt about the Helmeted Honeyeater over the 22 years a Recovery Plan and captive breeding program has been in place. 2011 marks the start of a major review of the reintroduction strategy.

Some interesting snippets:
  • Definition of success of captive bred released birds? Greater than 40% survival to 12 months after the release.
  • Birds were making use of burnt habitat within 10 months of the Black Saturday bushfires
  • Females never settle in their natal colony
  • With habitat loss being a major issue for long-term survival, we cannot rely on conservation measures on public land being the sole answer. Private landholders play an important role

Friday, August 12, 2011

Breeding season has started

It seems like such a short break between breeding seasons for the Helmeted Honeyeater. July sees the birds in full swing establishing and defending their territories. Now that we're in August, nest building and courtship behaviour is hotting up both in the wild and in the captive breeding program. how long before the first eggs and nestlings? Stay tuned.

Image: Courtship behaviour of a Helmeted Honeyeater pair
M Serong

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Radio tracking is re-established in 2011

Through Briony Mitchell, an Honours student from Monash University, radio tracking of the May 2011 captive bred released birds has been a possibility. Briony reports that 5 of the 11 birds were predated subsequent to the release. Two of these were seen to be taken by a small hawk, probably a Sparrowhawk. Another two birds are 'missing'.

Though this is disappointing, the results aren't surprising. We know that larger birds are a serious threat to small birds. When there's only a handful of Helmeted Honeyeaters in the wild, any predation is a set back.

As Peter Menkhorst, Chair Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Team, observes "That is one reason we need large numbers of releasees for re-introductions to succeed."

The true positive coming from the radio tracking is that we can say for certain what has happened to these releasees rather than speculating. It gives the Recovery Team much more knowledge when planning for future releases.

Thanks Briony.

Image: Briony preparing to track the releasees (L), A Helmeted Honeyeater with transmitter (R)
Photographer: Emma Campbell

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sunday 5 June: World Environment Day

What are you doing on World Environment Day or anytime after that...?

For a few ideas on how to get involved in the conservation of Victoria's threatened species, take a look here or here

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bouncing back with the rains?

20th May 2011. An exciting and significant observation happened at Yellingbo when at least three Helmeted Honeyeaters were spotted in swamp habitat that the birds had become 'locally extinct' from for almost two years. A colony of up to 11 breeding pairs once existed there prior to its extinction. It has been suspected that the extinction from this area had been due to habitat decline associated with drying of the floodplain. It is unknown at this stage whether the group of Helmeted Honeyeaters were temporarily using or genuinely re-colonizing the site. Hopefully, habitat at this site has recovered sufficiently to support a breeding colony of Helmeted Honeyeaters once again! Overall, 46 individuals have been recorded at Yellingbo sites in recent months.

Monday, May 23, 2011

International Day of Biodiversityhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

What did you do for International Day of Biodiversity - 22 May?

If you missed it, don't despair. Any time is a good time to take action for biodiversity. Check out a whole range of ideas here

Or if you're looking for a planting day on various Fridays during May-September 2011, look here

Friday, April 15, 2011

Be part of the solution

For endangered species we are both their greatest enemy and their only hope.

These wonderful creatures will not argue their case.
They will not put up a fight.
They will not beg for reprieve.
They will not say goodbye.
They will not cry out.
They will just vanish.

And after they have gone, there will be silence.
There will be stillness.
And there will be empty places.
And nothing you can say will change this.
Nothing you can do will bring them back.

Source: Bradley Trevor Greive, Priceless: The Vanishing Beauty of A Fragile Planet

Habitat loss is the major reason species become endangered. We are gearing up for our revegetation and plant propagation activities now. Find out more about how you can take action with us today. You'll be warmly welcomed.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Seeking Volunteers - Supplementary Feeding Program

The Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Program has been running since 1989. It is one of the longest running recovery programs for a critically endangered species, the Helmeted Honeyeater - Victoria's avifaunal emblem.

We are currently seeking interest from new volunteers able to assist with the important role of supplementary feeding a colony of Helmeted

Honeyeaters at either Yellingbo NCR (near Woori Yallock) or Bunyip SP (near Gembrook or Tonimbuk). Feeding occurs daily (weekdays and weekends) and each feeding activity takes roughly between 2 - 4 hours, but many volunteers often take longer if they are enjoying their visit into the forest.

Volunteers tasks will include:

  • preparing supplementary feed
  • walking into forested areas to supply feed at designated feeding stations
  • recording birds observed and adding to data sheets
  • cleaning up feeding equipment

These tasks can be undertaken as an individual or in pairs/small group.

As a small amount of training is required it is hoped that volunteers will be able to participate for a minimum of at least 5 sessions over a year with a preference for being willing to take on a more permanent feeding shift either weekly, fortnightly or monthly. As our current group of more permanent volunteers often have to take a day off here or there; being on a volunteer "on call/backup" list is also very useful if this suits your situation better.

Joining the Friends of Helmeted Honeyeater group would also be beneficial but is not a requirement. For more information visit

Note: a 4WD is required to access the parks and supplementary feeding areas.

For more information or to register your interest please contact Bruce Quin, the Senior Ornithologist for the Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Program. E-mail: bruce.quin@dse.vic.gov.au
Mobile: 0412 576 646

Image: Supplementary feeding at Yellingbo
S Tardif

Monday, March 21, 2011

How long do Helmeted Honeyeaters live?

It's a common question when we're out and about talking to groups. How long do Helmeted Honeyeaters live?

Well, hot off the presses is this news from the Helmeted Honeyeater Field Ornithologist:

"Delighted to re-find our oldest known bird (swp) on 16/3/11! He hatched on the 18/11/94. So, we know that a male Helmeted Honeyeater can live for at least 16 years and 4 months in the wild at Yellingbo. We have had other males and females live to about 15 years at Yellingbo."

Go swp!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Yellingbo State Emblems Park: Minister speaks for its establishment

Good news! Read James Merlino MP's full statement in the 1/3/11 Hansard (the record of parliamentary debates).

In part it reads...

State emblems park: establishment
Mr MERLINO (Monbulk) — I raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for
Environment and Climate Change. The action I seek is that the minister proceed with the
creation of a new state emblems park in the Dandenong Ranges. I represent a very special part
of Victoria. .... This is the sole remaining natural habitat of the helmeted
honeyeater... As representatives of this region we need to ensure that our state emblems survive and flourish. ... The issue is that at the moment the management of the land in which these special animals live is divergent — the land is fragmented.... A new state emblems park would create a coordinated series of nature reserves under one park management system with a total area of approximately 5000 hectares. Other benefits would include the ability of volunteer and friends-of groups, such as the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater, to coordinate their
activities and to secure grants from the three levels of government and philanthropic
organisations, and then those resources could be distributed right along the corridor. .... I commend this issue to the minister and request that he proceed with plans to create this new park. It is the single best thing that we can do to ensure the survival of our state emblem endangered species.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ethical Paper Pledge

Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater have joined the Wilderness Society Australia's call and signed the Ethical Paper Pledge, asserting our commitment to sustainability and the environment by not purchasing Reflex Paper until its producer, Australian Paper, stops sourcing from native forests.

The production of woodchips for pulp and paper is the largest driver of forest destruction in Australia. At a time when viable alternatives to native forest logging exist - Australia currently has an excess of plantation wood available - there is no excuse for Australian Paper to be sourcing paper from the destruction of our native forests.

Native forest logging damages crucial wildlife habitat. It also damages water catchments and releases huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere - globally, logging accounts for almost 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

It is International Year of Forests in 2011. Both individuals and organisations can support the cause by signing the Ethical Paper Pledge.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Landholder funding opportunity

Great news for landholders in the Woori Yallock Creek sub-catchment. Does your property border Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve, Kurth Kiln or another significant reserve in the region? Yarra4Life, a major project of the PPWCMA that the Friends are key stakeholders in, has just announced new funding for habitat protection and conservation projects to assist local landholders. The project will prioritise landholders that work together with their neighbours. The project will run until 2013. See this article for more details and contact Adam, Yarra4Life Project Coordinator, to find out more on 8781 7900.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Food, plants & people. A healthy combination

We have a great life at the Friends! Take 23 Sept 2009 for example. A day in the outdoors with a group of interesting people that you've never met before but you know really well after a couple of hours, planting over 3,000 habitat plants for threatened species. What could be better? Well, add in lunch delivered to the reveg site and morning & afternoon tea before and after the event, and... I'd say pretty confidently... life couldn't get much better!

A number of groups, individuals and organisations got together to make it all happen. Check out the details here

Image: Habitat planting day at Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve
Yarra4Life program

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mid Jan & plenty of activity in the field

It's been an interesting year for the Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Team. The Yellingbo populations are holding their place on the globe (they tend to stay put in the general area they're released or wild born) and they're breeding well. The Bunyip State Park populations are proving more challenging to keep track of. They seem to be finding richer pastures than the release sites - somewhere - whilst making an occasional visit back to where they were released! Different individual birds are being seen intermittently at sites well away from the release sites, including areas that had been burnt in the Feb 2009 fires. Not exactly what was expected, but, the ultimate aim is that the birds find their own way in the world and establish colonies. Perhaps this is nature telling us people aren't that good at choosing the best habitat for them.

Meanwhile, we are still seeing breeding activity with 3 known pairs currently sitting on nests at Yellingbo and new fledglings just joining the population at Bunyip State Park. How luck are we to be part of this fantastic program? Want to find out how you can help?

A typical Helmeted Honeyeater nest
S Tardif