Category Archives: Guest speakers

A window on our past

At our February 2017 meeting, Susan Kruss gave a really interesting presentation about some of the club history. Susan is undertaking a thesis “A Voice for Nature”, on the various ways our club has given nature a voice.

Here is a link to the slides with notes. Just click on one of the slides to make it bigger.

Hollows as Habitat

Our meeting topic in June was Hollows as Habitat and was presented by Club Member John Gregurke. Here are some notes from his talk and the photos are by another club member.

If you mention hollows many people immediately think of the ones in standing trees but they are  also found in fallen timber, in the trunks that fall into rivers, rock crevices, burrows and caves. All sorts of fauna require hollows for breeding and or shelter including  mammals, reptiles, birds and frogs and fish. The list of birds for the Ballarat area includes 30 birds that need access to hollows. Across Australia 114 of the 700 species of birds need hollows. Continue reading

Listening to nature

Tawny Frogmouth

The Tawny Frogmouth has a distinctive call

In December we had were fortunate to have Andrew Skeoch speak to our members about the evolution of sound and listening. Animal sounds and bird song have adapted to specific environments and habitats and Andrew gave a very interesting and informative talk about the work he does and some of his observations.

Together with his partner Sarah they have a business called Listening Earth and they travel widely recording natural sounds. His talk opened our ears and minds to what goes on in the natural world around us.

If you missed the talk or are interested in listening to another of his talks, here is the link from ABC radio recorded recently at the Woodford Music Festival.

Thanks to Geoff Park for alerting us to this interview through his blog Natural Newstead.

Lichens

Dr Mary Gibson works at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University. Her research interests include the reproductive biology and ecology of algae, bryophytes and lichens. She has been recognised as an inspiring lecturer and her skills became evident as she revealed the importance of lichens to the ecology of the natural environment illustrated by many photographs. Continue reading

The Mallard x Pacific Black Duck Hybridisation Threat

Pacific Black Ducks

Our April 2012 talk was presented by Patrick Guay, a research fellow from Victoria University, on the topic of how hybridisation with domestic ducks is threatening Pacific Black Ducks in Australia. Patrick’s area of expertise is in waterfowl ecology and conservation & population genetics and he is well known to our group through his work on the swans and musk ducks on Lake Wendouree. Overall we don’t have a good track record when it comes to protecting birds. Continue reading

The Secret Life in Cemeteries

Feathertails & Button Wrinklewort

Rokewood Cemetery grasslands in the spring

Modern cemeteries may be boring. Designed for low maintenance with white gravel or manicured lawns, the view may be good but there is sameness in all the regimented rows. You may need to be selective but if you decide to visit a country cemetery you will often find there is more to look at than just tombstones, gravel and arum lilies. Continue reading

A Touch of Ice

Talk at Field Naturalist’s Club of Ballarat on 3 June 2011

Carol’s interest in the geography of polar regions began when she was a form 6 student. Since then she has visited the Antarctic, and she spoke to the Club about her 2010 Arctic trip to Svalbard and Greenland. The Aurora Expeditions tour began at Longyearbyen when she boarded the Polar Pioneer, a 71m, 2000 tonne ship which is ice-strengthened but not an ice-breaker. It can move through loose pack ice.

With the aid of maps Carol outlined the route of her trip and explained that climate is affected by latitude and ocean currents. Warmth from the North Atlantic Drift of the Gulf Stream results in a lack of ice on the west coast of Svalbard while cooler currents mean that the east side has sea ice in the winter. Evidence of global warming is clearly seen in the Arctic. The extent of sea ice has shrunk from the 1979-2000 median coverage. 2007 was the year of least summer sea ice and 2010 had the least winter ice. The Greenland Sea ice is declining by 10% per year. Some consequences of global warming in the Arctic are that it is possible for shipping (oil tankers) to operate further north for longer periods. There are border disputes between countries over areas of sea bed and the oil resource they contain.

Continue reading