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Gleeson Wetlands – Clare Lions Green Team

This site was last updated January 7th 2017.         The photo below was taken on 2015/04/18
Ponds 2 and 3


 
Morning of the first working bee, 2014/06/22, beautiful morning for it
Mist
The Gleeson Wetlands are at Clare, about 140km North of Adelaide, in Mid North South Australia.

The Clare region has many attractions, including its natural beauty, its wineries (the Clare Valley is known particularly for its riesling, although it also produces some excellent shiraz and other varieties), its restaurants, conservation parks, and one of my favourites, the Riesling Trail for walking and cycling.

The Lions' Green Team aims to make the Gleeson Wetlands one of Clare's most popular places for walkers and bird watchers.

On this site

History, and early photos
What has been done recently?
What needs to be done?
Money
Working bees
Thanks
Bird species list
Turtles
Plant species list
Planting notes
Plant species photos
Awards
Mulch
Maps
Photos from 2014
Photos from 2015
Photos from 2016
Wetlands at the end of 2016
Frustrations
A personal perspective
Links
Index

Since late May 2015 we have a Facebook Page.


Size

The ring road around all three ponds is about 950m long. The area of the Gleeson Wetlands is around 4.1ha. Of this about 1.2ha is ponds, and there is 2.9ha of planted area. To put this in perspective, 2.9ha is 29,000 square metres. The average modern back yard in Clare would be perhaps 200 square metres (maybe 10m × 20m?). So the Wetlands is roughly the size of 145 back yards; it requires quite a bit of looking after.

Volunteering

If you would like to get involved in looking after the wetlands, contact Patrick Williams, 0411 492 223; or (me, the writer of this page) Dave Clarke, 0400 256 125, daveclarkecb@yahoo.com. You don't have to join Lions.

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You could pass your time playing golf or bowls, but if you did, would the world be a better place at the end of your game? Or you could spend a few hours gardening in the Gleeson Wetlands and the world will be a little better place because of your efforts.




What has been done recently?

In the several months up to the end of November 2016:
  1. Some more mulch has been spread, including some by school children;

  2. The battle against invasive weeds has continued;

  3. Planting has continued; it recommenced as soon as the weather warmed up. Some planting has included interesting native species new to the Wetlands.
Planting will continue up until the ground becomes too hard and dry to dig holes.
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What needs to be done?

As of 3rd December 2016:
  1. From now until the soil becomes too hard and dry to dig holes is a very good time to plant; there are a couple of hundred seedling ready to plant. Bare ground will only attract weeds, eventually we must cover most of the ground with desirable plants if the Wetlands are to become anything like self-sustaining.

  2. There are weeds that could be hoed, grubbed out, sprayed or covered with mulch;

  3. There is a stock-pile of mulch that could be moved on utes or trailers and spread.
Also see What has been done recently?



Thanks

A number of groups and people have helped with the wetland work.

The Lions Club Green Team would like to particularly thank:

  • Those Lions members and wives who have helped, you know who you are;
  • Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council;
  • Northern and Yorke Natural Resources Board;
  • Brian and Barb Reinke (Clare Woodyard) for their donations of mulch;
  • Trees For Life for supplying seedling trees and shrubs;
  • Benjamin Parkin for growing trees and shrubs through Trees For Life;
  • Uta Grehn for identifying many of the plants;
  • Peter Wood for help in spreading mulch, sourcing a water supply, etcetera.
My apologies to any that I've missed.
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Money

Money: the necessary evil. I'll keep this section as short as possible. The financial side of the wetlands is nothing to do with me, but it has been discussed at Lions meetings so I thought it necessary to put the situation, as I understand it, here.

As of the time of writing this, 2015/05/13, no money spent on the wetlands came out of the funds that the Lions devote to 'normal' activity. Council pays for spraying contractors and for consumables such as weedicides.

In August 2014 Council gave the Lions $2000, which to the time of writing has not been spent on the wetland. So the Lions are $2000 ahead because they took on some responsibility for the wetlands.

Some money is now proposed to be spent on signage at the wetlands. A part of this, about $350, will be paid by the Lions out of the $2000 they received from Council in August 2014.

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Working bees

There will be a Wetlands working bee organised by the Clare Lions on the Last Sunday of each month.

Some Lions will also do occasional work as we can. I will be working in the wetland on some mornings, as weather and other commitments allow, whenever I can. We can let other Lions know by email if we feel we need help. If other people would like to be informed of the extra working days, please contact me (daveclarkecb@yahoo.com) and I will add you to the email list.





Bird species list

 
Black-fronted dotterel
Dotteral
Seen at the wetlands, 2015/07/03
Some of the bird species that have been recorded at Gleeson Wetlands...
(The tree plantation south of the ponds and north of Christison avenue and the Hutt River adjacent to the ponds were included for bird sitings.)

Common nameScientific nameRecorded by
BlackbirdTurdus merulaBill O'Malley
Coot, EurasianFulica atraDKC
Corella, littleCacatua sanguineaDKC, Bill O'Malley
Cormorant, little piedMicrocarbo melanoleucosDKC, Bill O'Malley
Cuckoo-shrike, black facedCoracina novaehollandiae Bill O'Malley
Dotterel, black-frontedElseyornis melanopsDKC
Duck, Australian woodChenonetta jubataDKC
Duck, hardheadAythya australisDavid Donato
Duck, Pacific blackAnas superciliosaDKC
Duck, pink earedMalacorhynchus membranaceuBill O'Malley
GalahEolophus roseicapillaDKC, Bill O'Malley
Grebe, AustralasianTachybaptus novaehollandiaeDKC, Horrie Mills
Grebe, hoary-headedPoliocephalus poliocephalus Horrie Mills
Heron, white-facedEgretta novaehollandiaeDKC, Horrie Mills
Honeyeater, New HollandPhylidonyris novaehollandiae Pat Williams
Honeyeater, white-plumedLichenostomus penicillatusDKC
Common nameScientific nameRecorded by
Ibis, Australian whiteThreskiornis moluccusDKC
Ibis, straw-neckedThreskiornis spinocollisHorrie Mills
Kookaburra, laughingDacelo novaeguineaeHorrie Mills
Lapwing, masked; (Plover, spur-winged)Vanellus milesDKC
Lorikeet, muskGlossopsitta concinnaPat Williams
Lorikeet, rainbowTrichoglossus moluccanus Bill O'Malley
Magpie, AustralianCracticus tibicenDKC, Horrie Mills
Magpie, Australian (white backed)Cracticus tibicen Bill O'Malley
Minor, noisyManorina melanocephala Horrie Mills, Bill O'Malley
Mistletoe birdDicaeum hirundinaceumBill O'Malley
Moorhen, duskyGallinula tenebrosaBill O'Malley
Mudlark, magie-lark, pee wee, pee witGrallina cyanoleuca DKC
Pardalote, striatedPardalotus striatusBill O'Malley
Parrot, red-rumpedPsophotus haematonotusBill O'Malley
Common nameScientific nameRecorded by
Pigeon, common bronzewingPhaps chalcopteraHorrie Mills
Pigeon, crestedOcyphaps lophotesDKC, Bill O'Malley
Raven, littleCorvus melloriHorrie Mills
Rosella, AdelaidePlatycercus elegans adelaidaeHorrie Mills
Shrike-thrush, greyColluricincia harmonica Bill O'Malley
Silvereye, grey backedZosterops lateralis Bill O'Malley
Sparrow, housePasser domesticusBill O'Malley
Sparrowhawk, collaredAccipiter cirrhocephalus Bill O'Malley
Starling, commonSturnus vulgarisBill O'Malley
Swallow, welcomeHirundo neoxenaDKC, Bill O'Malley
Swan, blackCygnus atratusDKC
Teal, greyAnas gracilisHorrie Mills
Wagtail, willieRhipidura leucophrysDKC, Bill O'Malley
Wattlebird, redAnthochaera carunculataHorrie Mills
WeebillSmicrornis brevirostrisBill O'Malley

Some species that I was not sure of were confirmed or made more specific by Horrie Mills or Bill O'Malley.

If you have seen other birds at the wetlands, post your sightings on the Facebook page or email me (daveclarkecb@yahoo.com).

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Turtles

 
Turtle eggs
Turtle eggs accidentally found in pile of mulch, 2015/01/23
I didn't notice the eggs until I tipped out a bucket of mulch and saw them as they are here. I covered them with more mulch. Only one was seen to be broken.

I came across another three eggs on 2015/11/13. None broken, immediately covered again.

Since then I have come across other turtle egg clutches.

 
Turtle
I came across this turtle crossing one of the wetland roads on 2015/11/26 and luckily he kept his head and legs out of his shell long enough for me to get a couple of photos.

This was the first live turtle that I had seen out of the water.

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Awards

Natural Environment Award Premier's Award

These two awards were presented to Clare Lions representatives at Glenelg on 2015/10/25.
The Premier's Award for the 'best project overall' was the top award handed out on the day.
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Mulch: what purposes does it serve?

There seems to be some confusion over the purpose of mulching the plants in Gleeson Wetlands. I hope that this piece might help explain what it can achieve and how it works.

 
Mulch that has done its job
Mulched plants
NW corner of Pond 3, 2015/02/23

Obviously, it would be far better if there were no weeds at all, but the mulch has been effective in keeping the weeds away from the two plants. The photo was taken just before I hoed the closer weeds and added more mulch.

Kelly's (pest control contractors) were due to come and spray all the weeds within a few days.
There are several very useful purposes mulch can serve:

  1. To smother weed seeds and stop their successful germination;
  2. To stop light getting to smaller weeds; without light they cannot grow;
  3. To limit the moisture loss by evaporation from the soil;
  4. To provide a border near a plant where weeds will not grow and will not take moisture from the soil (related to point 1).
In more detail:
  1. Many weed seeds are very small. This is partly because many weeds have evolved the ability to produce a great many seeds, but because of the amount of energy invested, they can't produce both a great many seeds and large seeds.

    A seedling that germinates from a small seed under 5cm of mulch will die before it can grow up to reach the sunlight it needs because there is insufficient energy stored in that seed to get it that far.

  2. Australians are well aware that plants can easily die from lack of water in our long, hot summers. Obviously moisture at the surface of the soil evaporates very quickly on a hot day. Much less obviously, capillary action can then draw more moisture to the surface where it too will evaporate. This can continue until there is very little moisture in the top 10 or 20cm of soil. capillary action can not draw water through a layer of mulch because the mulch lacks the very fine capillaries that are needed and that exist in soil.

  3. Summer weeds are even more effective at drawing moisture out of the soil than is capillary action. If you can keep weeds half a metre or more from the plant you want to grow you will stop them stealing the precious soil water, conserving it for the plant you want to grow.
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Maps; Map 1

 
Gleeson Wetlands: location in Clare, South Australia
Gleeson Wetlands in Clare
From Google Maps










The wetlands are about a kilometre North-North-West of the Clare town centre.

In wet periods they receive water from the Hutt River flowing from the South and from Inchiquin Lake to the East.

Map 2

 
Gleeson Wetlands
Gleeson Wetlands
From Google Maps










There is a small pond (lower centre of photo) on the Hill River. The River then follows the line of trees toward the North.

When there is a flow in the River some of the water goes over a concrete causeway (visible as a white strip) into pond one, then over other causeways into Ponds 2 and 3, before flowing over another causeway and back into the Hill River at the top left of the photo.

Note how bare the ground around the ponds looks; image date 2013/06/11.
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Photos from 2016

The photos are in chronological order. Compare these photos with those taken at the time Lions took over partial responsibility for the wetlands in the History section. There are also photos from 2014 and 2015.


Pond 3
Pacific black ducks on Pond 2, Pond 1 in background
2016/05/14


Pond 3
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Pond 2, looking south
2016/05/14


Pond 3
Pond 3, looking north-west
2016/05/14


Pond 3
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Pond 2, looking north-east
2016/05/14


Pond 3
Planted area adjacent Pond 2, looking north
2016/05/14


Pond 3
Kids from the Burra Kindergarten visited on 2016/06/14
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Rachel Bird's photos of the high flow on 2016/07/05


River and Pond 1
Causeway between river and Pond 1
2016/07/06


Pond 2, 3
The tree in the water is adjacent to the causeway between Pond 2 and Pond 3
2016/07/06
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Pond 3
Floating litter in the southern end of Pond 3
2016/07/06


Ponds 2 and 3
Water flowing over the causeway between Ponds 2 and 3
2016/07/06


Drone shot, Pond 1 in foreground looking north, following the flooding rains of late September
2016/10/02


Drone shot of Pond 3, looking south, following the flooding rains of late September
2016/10/02

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The damage to the culvert and crossing on the water-course from the golf course, following the flooding rains of late September, drone again.
2016/10/02


The root system of this redgum was weakened when the landscaping was done in 2012; it was blown down in the storms of late September
2016/10/02


Yacca

Yaccas
More than a hundred yacca (Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata) seedlings were planted in late 2016. These are pretty typical of the size they were when planted at the wetlands.
Photo 2016/12/20

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The Wetlands at the end of 2016

Vegetation cover is now pretty good around Ponds 1 and 2, but there is a long way to go around Pond 3. Wherever there is bare ground there is an oportunity for a weed to establish; they have a far harder time getting going underneath a shrub or groundcover.

Mulching certainly suppresses weed seed germination, but it only lasts a year or so before it breaks down enough for weeds to get a start again. The long-term solution is getting the plants we want over most of the area.

On past experience we can expect a lot of growth through the coming summer.


Pond 1
Pond 1
Overhead view of Pond 1
2016/12/21
We have perhaps a 60% plant cover over the ground around this pond.


Pond 2
Pond 2
Overhead view of Pond 2
2016/12/21
Like Pond 1, vegetation cover is pretty good here, perhaps 50%.


Pond 3
Pond 3
Overhead view of Pond 3
There's still a lot of bare ground for weeds to take advantage of here, I'd estimate that we only have about 20% of the ground covered.
2016/12/21
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Frustrations

 
Kangaroo fast food
Browsing damage
Browsing damage
Sheoak eaten by kangaroos or rabbits?
There have been some frustrations involved with getting the vegetation properly established at the wetlands.

While they haven't been caught in the act, kangaroos and rabbits are chief suspects for eating all but the main stem of a number of sheoaks and ducks have apparently been cropping some of the newly planted seedlings.

The photo at the right shows two sheoaks (Allocasuarina verticillata) that have been heavily browsed. Sheoaks are one of the trees that are most palatable to browsing animals; oddly there are some sheoaks in the wetlands that seem to have hardly been touched.

 
Sprayed in error
Sprayed in error
Atriplex suberecta

Off-target spray damage

Probably the biggest frustration is 'off-target damage' from weed spraying, as shown in the photos on the right.

A number of the native salbush, Atriplex suberecta, plants have been sprayed in spite of being marked by bamboo stakes.

The damage in the photo on the right and in the next few photos happened in June 2015.

Atriplex suberecta is, by some people and in some places, considered to be a weed, but bare ground will always attract weeds and it is better to have this covering the ground than exotics.

It seems that spray drift has damaged this and other prostrate saltbush Atriplex semibacata plants.

 
Spray drift
Spray drift
Atriplex semibacata
There are many plants that have been killed or badly damaged in this area, on the NE side of Pond 3. How this has happened is something of a mystery.

 
Spray drift damage
Spray drift
Acacia pycnantha

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A personal perspective

 
Gleeson Wetlands early on an Autumn morning
Wetlands
2015/05/03
On 4th May 2015 I calculated that I had put in about 110 hours work on the wetlands since the beginning of the year. And I've enjoyed every minute of it.

To outsiders the wines and wineries would be the big attractions of the Clare Valley.

The Riesling Trail has been my favourite Clare attraction and I suspect that many locals would share that opinion. I'm doing my best to change their views.

The Gleeson Wetlands has the potential to be the most beautiful little spot in the Clare Valley and I reckon the Lions and all the others who've helped with the necessary work have a good chance of making it so! I certainly intend to do what I can to get it there.

My wider aims

I am over 70 years old. A while ago I decided that the best thing I could do with the remainder of my life was to do as much as I can to get action on climate change because it is the greatest single threat to the future of our world and much more could easily be done than is being done, especially in our country, Australia. To this end I write on the Internet, lobby politicians and do anything else that I can think of that might achieve something (I've done two long walks in an effort to get something done), but there's only so much that one can do without annoying people.

One way that we can easily reduce greenhouse emissions is to change from fossil fuels to renewable energy for the generation of our electricity. South Australia has great wind power resources and they are nowhere near fully utilised. One of the reasons our wind resources are not more fully utilised is the opposition that often builds up to many proposed wind farms. This opposition of often based on ignorance and the lies spread by dishonest people. I do my best to provide the facts on wind power in Australia.

So, when I can't think of how I can productively get more action on climate change I can make the world a little better place by working on Gleeson Wetlands.

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Links

Lions Gleeson Wetlands Facebook page

A video published in June 2013 by the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council, about a year after establishment of the wetlands






Index

Acacia acinacea, Gold dust wattle
Acacia hakeoides, Hakea wattle
Acacia paradoxa, Kangaroo thorn
Acacia pycnantha, Golden wattle
Acacia retinodes, Swamp wattle
Acacia salicina, Broughton willow wattle
Acacua spilleriana, Spiller's wattle
Acacia wattsiana, Watt's wattle, dog wattle
Atriplex semibaccata, a prostrate saltbush
Atriplex suberecta, Saltbush
Austrodanthonia species, Wallaby grass
Awards
Bee hotel
Bird species list
Cassinia laevis, Native daisy
Creeping boobialla
Contents
Enchylaena tomentosa, Ruby saltbush
Frustrations
Guards (tree/plant)
Hardenbergia violacea, Purple coral pea, native violet, ...
History
Links
Maps
Muehlenbeckia cunninghamii, Lignum
Mulch
Myoporum montanum, Boobialla
Myoporum parviflorum
Olearia ramulosa, Twiggy daisy-bush, yellow hakea, curry bush
Photos from before Lions' involvement
Photos from 2014
Photos from 2015
Photos from 2016
Personal perspective
Plant species photos
Plant species list
Planting notes
Rachel Bird's photos of the high flow on 2016/07/05
Size
Spray damage
Thanks
Themeda triandra, Kangaroo grass
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Torii gate
Turtles
Volunteering
Wetlands at the end of 2016
What has been done recently?
What needs to be done?
Working bees
Yacca
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