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July 2023 – Seedling planting
About 25,000 seedlings have now been planted in the southern paddock near the recently filled-in dam, and about 35,000 in the northern paddock in three sections with a different mix of species based on the soil types. 45 species have been sown or planted – a wonderful effort by Carbon Positive and their contractors in a challenging location. Let's hope we receive sufficient rain to get them going and that the rabbits, euros and 'roos keep away!

Planning seedling planting with the Noongar Budjar Rangers

Planting seedlings

Healthy seedlings after about 6 weeks

June 2023 – Direct Seeding
It was very exciting to witness the first batch of direct seeding being done by Dr Geoff Woodall using the unique machine he has developed over the years.  The low rainfall recorded has meant less area is being seeded and planted this year and it is also being done later that planned.  A total of about 60ha (seed furrows every 6m) has been direct seeded with 22kg of seed and in July the furrows created will be used to plant the seedlings.

The direct seeder in operation

The resulting completed 'dam' furrows with buried seeds

Drone photo of the direct seeding furrows (by Carbon Positive Au)

May 2023 – The bomb squad visit!
Some time ago we discovered a box of dynamite in the farm shed and reported this to the police.  They promised to come and investigate and in mid May a big white truck and three officers from the Police Bomb Response Unit arrived which seemed like an overkill.  However we learnt the dynamite becomes unstable with age and can explode when moved.  So out of the truck rolled an impressive remotely controlled robot which was used to transport the box into the open away from our shed and equipment, and where is was burnt on a bed of paper and liquid fuel – no explosion!  We thank the WA Police.

The robot delivers the dynamite

May 2023 – Dam Infill
In preparation for direct seeding and seedling planting we arranged for the local bulldozer contractor  (Ash Geier) to fill in the large dam in the lower paddock.  This will both rid the eyesore and remove the watering point for the euros and 'roos and the occasional stray cattle that inhabit the region, and give the new vegetation more chance of not being eaten. It will be interesting to see how this area revegetates since much of the top soil has been buried, even though Ash tried hard to retain it on the surface.

Bulldozer working hard to fill in the dam

May 2023 – Flora survey donations – please

Carbon Positive are seeking donations to help pay for a flora survey that was required to determine if endangered flora occurs on our cleared paddocks – to ensure the imminent revegetation works avoids these important areas.
The survey was prompted when a healthy patch of the rare and endangered Acacia lobulata was recently discovered in our lower paddock necessitating this costly and unplanned survey.   We are aware of at least three threatened flora species on the block and in the adjoining nature reserve.
Since Carbon Positive are doing the revegetation at no cost to BBG, please consider donating at this Carbon Positive page.
April 2023 – AGM, more cameras deployed
Our first AGM was held on 4th April and our comprehensive new constitution was adopted.
Several members spent Easter working hard re-deploying the 43 borrowed wildlife cameras to the same locations as one year ago. 
Andy's farming cousin managed to get two of the old farm machinery working and moved other junk machinery to better locations, together with more cleaning up.

Dragging an old bin away

March 2023 – House and Junk Progress
Our efforts to turn the run-down farm house into a reasonable base for researchers, workers and education has progressed well. We have off-grid 240v working thanks to member Simon's hard efforts to install larger recycled solar panels and repurposing retired electric vehicle batteries for storage, promising about 8kWh of overnight power.

Adding solar panels

Wiring our repurposed electric car batteries under the house

Sadly little has progressed on the 50 years of old farm machinery and related junk.  Several dump trips were completed to partially clear the large shed to provide under cover storage to dry out the collected seeds.  We hope that a few of the more serviceable machinery can be sold and we are exploring ways to find buyers.

February 2023 – New constitution completed
We have been working on a new constitution for our association and have received wonderful pro bono assistance from lawyers K&L Gates – many thanks to their team.  Our existing constitution uses the 'default' rules since we needed to become incorporated urgently to purchase this land upon hearing that another party was about to make a offer. Our new constitution includes many improvements and the required clauses to help us apply for DGR tax deductable donation status.  It will be considered at our forthcoming AGM.

December 2022 – Seed collection update
Our wonderful Noongar Rangers have now made several visits to the block over the last four months and collected a wide range of seed species, including most recently about 50kg of mainly acacia and a little dodonaea and grevillea. Of this about 200g was sent to one of the two nurseries growing about 130,000 seedlings (being mainly eucalypts and melaleucas) for BBG! The other seed will be direct-seeded where soils are suitable.

Collected and bagged seeds

One more seed collection trip is planned for late March to get the remaining allocasuarina, hakea and grevillea, with planting by Carbon Positive and the Rangers scheduled for June-July this year, depending on rains.
June and December 2022 – Important Visitors
We have been very privileged to have had two visit by Prof. Steven Hopper (UWA botanist ex WA Govt., Kings Park, Kew Gardens in UK) – who knows this area as well as anyone, having visited 40+ times doing research in the adjacent nature reserve, especially into E.caesia.  And he has a great interest in granite, having visited over 500 outcrops across the south-west.  During his first visit we explored two of our largest granite features and Steve collected dozens of plant specimens and also helped us locate several Aboriginal rock markers and direction indicators including a circular placement which could have been a corroboree site and a dolerite dyke with clear evidence of tool making.

Discussing a fascinating rock pile (on the right of the image – click image to zoom)

During his second visit we were also joined by local wildflower expert, naturalist and neighbouring farmer, Whispie Bayly, and Merredin Aboriginal elder Mick Hayden, and we learnt much more about the land and it's flora. It was surprising to see how many plants were flowing so late in the season, of note were fields of miniature everlastings, under Wheatbelt Wandoos below a breakaway, and Calothamnus gilesii. We walked to an amazing area of miniature granite mogotes which Steve thinks might be quite unique, and commented that he has never seen so many granite A-frames in one zone of granite.

Inspecting the micro granite mogotes

While working for the Department of Wildlife in the 1970s when this land was proposed for sale as farmland, Steve recognised its importance and recommended it be preserved – advice not taken, so it makes us very proud that our efforts will help to right that historic government decision.

A great example of our many A-frame granite structures

November 2022 – BBG is now on Facebook
After some admin. frustration, Sam has got our Facebook socials page out to the world – please take a look here,  It will be updated more regularly than our webpage…
November 2022 – Our First Birthday
The first anniversary of ownership passed without any fanfare – the year has gone so quickly.  However we are proud of what we have achieved to date.
September 2022 – Rare and Endangered Acacia Discovered!
Members Marion and Peter had read that a rare and endangered plant, Acacia lobulata (Chiddarcooping Wattle) is only known from a few very local locations, and in specific soils below breakaways. Knowing that this block has extensive breakaway areas, they went searching and within an hour had found a patch of about 20 plants. Since then another patch has been found along one firebreak. They hope to find another rare acacia this year – Acacia ascendens, which is only know in the adjacent reserve.

Acacia lobulata (Chiddarcooping Wattle) just after flowering

September 2022 – Seed collection starts
We had a wonderful gathering at the block in mid-September which saw the planning and kick-off for the massive seed collection project, being managed for us by Carbon Positive Australia (CPOZ) and involving Dr Geoff Woodall their consultant native plant agronomist, Jess and Ebony from CPOZ and four Noongar Rangers from Northam. Geoff toured the boundaries of the cleared paddocks to collect samples of the initial target species. This was followed by a meeting to discuss the plans and point out the locations for potential collecting on a large high-resolution aerial photo poster we laid on the floor.

Locating seed collection sites, with sample flora on the table and bench

Over the next three days the Rangers collected mainly eucalypts and melaleucas branches and placed them in large open bags under cover in our shed to dry out and drop the seed.

Noongar Rangers during the first seed collection visit

Several further visits are planned to collect other species at the appropriate time, such as the acacias, dodonaea, grevillea Allocasuarinas and hakeas.

Drying eucalypt and melaleuca branches

August 2022 – First Newsletter Published
We produced our first official newsletter ISSUE 1 VOL. 1 – six glossy pages of text and photos with lots of information about our progress and group.  It was emailed to our members and supporters. If you wish to received future issues then please consider becoming a member.
July 2022 – Some Initial Wildlife Camera Action
We have thousands of images to process and it's taking ages, but we have a few interesting ones to share at this stage:
Mallerfowl courtship
Malleefowl mound maintenance
Predators on a malleefowl mound
Which animals visit an active malleefowl mound over several weeks on Bush Blocks Guardian's Warralakin land. See malleefowl courting, maintaining the mound, other small birds, an emu, crows, thorny devil. But also feral preditors – foxes and cats! Check them out on our Youtube channel:
June 2022 – Malleefowl 
Two areas of the block were cleared in the 80s and have been left to revegetate. They now comprise dense Acacia shrublands. Fortunately, the dense shrubs and leaf litter are perfect for the threatened malleefowl, which have been breeding in this habitat!
Malleefowl are ground-dwelling birds that construct large mounds from soil and leaf litter. The birds dig a cavity into the mound to lay eggs before burying with leaf litter, which decomposes and generates heat to incubate the eggs. Adults will add or remove leaf litter to maintain nest temperature. When chicks hatch they emerge from the nest independent.
Due to their ground-dwelling nature, malleefowl are susceptible to cat and fox predation and are listed as Vulnerable under state  and federal legislation.
We have found 11 mounds on the block and are continuing to record more. Some mounds are currently in use. We aim to conduct long-term mound monitoring, and are hopeful malleefowl abundance and breeding will increase once non-native predator control commences.
June 2022 – Bird Census 
Committee ecologists Sam, Jeff and Andy designed an annual bird monitoring program during their last visit to the block in June. 20 minute searches were completed in set locations covering all the main bird habitats on the block, such as shrub thicket, granite outcrops, Salmon Gum woodland and mallee shrubland. Searches were also completed in the cleared paddocks so we can detect how bird species and abundance change as we revegetate.
We found 54 species from 17 searches, including the Mulga Parrot, Western Yellow Robin and Rufous Treecreeper  shown below, and counted 573 birds!
April 2022 – Farmhouse
As well as 50+ years of farm junk, we own a large farm shed and a modest farmhouse which we had not been able to inspect until well after we took possession, and thus had no idea of its condition.  We've now had a good look around and have decided it is worth keeping, mainly as a base for research and environmental education. Quite a bit of work is required and initially we have committed money to purchase new storage batteries and an inverter to get the 240v electrics working again, with lots of help from member Simon.  This will also get the water pump working to provide water to the sink and bathroom.  The house is bare so we are sourcing donations of furniture.
March 2022 – We are now a registered Charity 
We have been informed that we are now a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, which we hope will help us secure additional donations and other benefits such as achieving Deductible Gift Recipient status.
March 2022 – Fires
In March lightning caused three fires in the southern bush – one large which the adjoining farmer noticed and extinguished before it spread too far. The BBG are very grateful for their efforts. The smaller fires were only a few square metres and did not spread. This highlighted the need to source and maintain a small fire truck to help in future and develop a fire management plan.

Part of the large 2022 fire, just south of the lower field.

March 2022 – Motion Cameras Deployed
During March and April 43 motion cameras were deployed throughout the block. Motion cameras are units that take photos when movement is detected in the field of view, and are excellent non-invasive ways of determining what species occur on the block. We have placed ours in a variety of habitats as well as on features that will help us understand animal activity, such as malleefowl mounds, tracks (a good way to determine non-native predator presence), rock faces, water sources and hollow logs. Special thanks to Cheryl Lohr, who helped deploy them!
We just retrieved the cameras, and hope to analyse the images soon and to be shared in later news. As a small bonus during collection our ecologists bumped into a Common Scaly-foot (Pygopus lepidopodus). This animal may look like a snake, but is a harmless legless lizard.
Animals photographed by motion cameras will help indicate  ecological health and non-native predator presence, and we are hoping for other threatened species to add to Malleefowl! We aim to repeat this study to build a record of fauna on the block and see how this changes as we implement conservation controls.

Wildlife camera aimed at an active malleefowl nest

February 2022 – Revegetation Agreement Signed
200ha of the block were cleared for cropping, and are of minimal ecological value. We seek to restore these areas as closely as possible to their original ecological value, beginning with revegetation. After a successful visit in February, we have contracted Carbon Positive Australia to revegetate  and have now signed a formal agreement.  Like BBG, Carbon Positive Australia is a not-for-profit organisation, and we are excited to be working with them. You can find out more about Carbon Positive here:   Note that due to the nature of the country being revegetated, not a great deal of carbon will be sequestered, and so will not be accounted for and thus not sold to their clients.
Seed collecting will take place in spring 2022 and direct seeding and hand planting will occur in winter of 2023, with the aim of restoring vegetation values that are assessed as likely present before clearing. The planting will be done with seeds collected locally so as to retain the genetic purity of the flora. Fingers crossed we receive good rains after the plantings to give everything a kick start!
November 2021 – Naming
We are keen to find an appropriate Aboriginal name for this block and are in the process of reaching out to work with the Traditional Custodians of the region. We had one such visit this month and are awaiting feedback.

November 2021 – Purchase our first block
We are delighted to announce we have completed the first step in our journey to help preserve Western Australia's unique ecology: the purchasing of our first bush block, located in the wheatbelt! We could not have done this without the incredible support of everyone receiving this newsletter; thank you for your donations and for making our goal become a reality! We would also like to extend thanks to Gondwana Link Ltd for their continued assistance.

Large areas of native bush are rarity in the wheatbelt, as it has undergone widespread clearing for agriculture and is now restricted to small isolated patches. Due to its long unburnt vegetation and the neighbouring Class A Chiddarcooping Nature Reserve the block immediately caught the eye of what were to become the Bush Blocks Guardians (BBG). In 2019 members visited the block and saw the diverse environment and recognised its potential as a conservation property with rich ecological values. This drove the formation of the BBG, beginning an almost two year journey to raise funds, purchase the land and essentially expand the nature reserve.

After 18 months of growing the BBG and sourcing funds, the opportunity was nearly lost when the property went under offer. Fortunately for BBG the finances fell through, and the near loss only increased our drive to secure the land. After additonal donations from our supporters and the committee further increasing our funds, we finally secured the block on the 19th November 2021!  Now the conservation efforts at the block can begin!