Broken Creek Field Naturalists AGM 2012 -President’s Report

Saturday, August 4, 2012 



A most extraordinary year for the Club as most of our district suffered inundation from the most wide-spread flooding seen in recorded history. Our area has been flooded before and in recent times too, as evidenced by the ’93 and ’73 floods. But this time the waters were surprisingly quick in their rise and pervasive in their spread and the damage they caused . Many of our members were badly affected with some losing absolutely everything they owned .Many were flooded in, or out, of their homes and properties and others had their lives and livelihoods affected for weeks. Roads and other infrastructure across the region are still damaged and the repair bill to us all must be enormous. Many areas still have water that hasn’t drained off affecting farmers’ abilities to productively use that land .

Having said that, the effect on the biodiversity of our region is immense. Water birds haven’t bred in such numbers for some years. Refreshed groundwater and subsoil moisture reserves have seen larger trees responding with growth spurts. Understory that has been for some years pressured by drought has responded by putting on sustained growth. Personally, Catherine and I have a seemingly permanent wetland where once we had a dry creek bed running through our property. The birdlife attracted to that water is a source of constant surprise All manner of ducks, egrets, ibis, herons, cormorants, and both types of spoonbill have been seen within 100 mts of our home .A lot of our members have also reported greater than usual sightings of raptors .Many of the robin species, fantails, pardalotes and honeyeaters have been reported in larger numbers too with some rarer types recorded as well. The natural regeneration of native grasses and shrubs is also pleasing after years of losing tube stock plants to drought .Our walk on the day of the AGM through the Wunghnu Common should see this regrowth responding to the inundation. Some species of course have not recovered from the flooding, but with time , residual seed should regenerate. The old adage that ‘every cloud has a silver lining ‘ will never be more true !

Our membership continues to improve and now stands at 77 financial members .This is gratifying as I know that many of us have done their best to invite family, friends, and colleagues and introduce them to field naturalism and the many diverse facets of our area .We continually need to bring in new members as it would seem that field naturalist clubs in general have a declining and ageing membership. Skills and knowledge accumulated over years of study and excursions needs to be handed on to the next generation of members. Many clubs across the State are in serious decline with many unable to continue. Of these Ararat and Horsham are having membership problems and the Southern Riverina and Sunraysia clubs have folded ,unable to attract a younger membership to continue. Timboon Field Naturalist Club hosted the most recent Camp in March 2012 with a membership of 6 ! Their President, also the current President of SEANA, did most of the work single-handedly. My observation of these clubs is that they can sometime become too “scientific” with research and collection of data the main intention of their meetings. Our approach of a field trip led by someone with some experience and a bit of get-together around a picnic lunch and the sharing of anecdotal sightings seems to works for the members of our club. Certainly many of our members have excellent professional knowledge and experiences to share but for some the sheer joy of being in the great outdoors with like-minded people is the point of membership. Let’s continue to invite our guests and build our membership.

As you may be aware, I have been elected to the Management Committee of the South East Australian Naturalists’ Association Inc. I am very proud to represent our club and our region at this level and it will give us a voice in the running and policies of SEANA. At the last Committee meeting in early July, the Timboon Club reported on the success of their Camp at Camperdown .In all, 110 field naturalists attended over the three days and the club returned a profit to SEANA of $840 .

The next bi-annual Camp is in a month’s time at Bendigo and some of our members have indicated that they will attend .This will give them an insight into the day-to-day running of a Camp and help in the running of our Camp next year in Spring .Next year in March the Peninsula Club will run a Camp based at Merricks with the lower Mornington Peninsula their specific interest. I would encourage all members to seriously consider attending if you can’t get to Bendigo. We need some of our people to experience the Camps and bring that back to help co-ordinate and run our Camp which is only 14 months away. On that point, at today’s AGM I will present to the club the dates I propose for our SEANA Camp for your discussion and approval and subsequent publication.
The SEANA Committee also had reported to them that a new Risk Management Policy for all financial members is being investigated and any changes will be discussed at the next meeting. SEANA finances are still very healthy with nearly $43,000 in term deposit and a cash balance of $16,000.At the next Camp there will be a discussion of what may be done with the funds and the suggestion that individual clubs may apply for works grants will be looked at.
I have also accepted the role of SEANA Archivist. The Association is now 50 years old and has accumulated an enormous amount of material that needs researching and collating, a subsequent transfer to digital backup, and then, storage. A short history of the Association and it’s member clubs also needs to be undertaken, which I will oversee .

All in all, our club has had a very successful year with interesting outings and good attendance. For me, the excursion to Kinnairds and the Naring grasslands, and then the Feral Feast, were the highlights—great days with good attendance. Let’s hope we can come up with an even better year in 2013, culminating with our SEANA Camp in the Spring

I need to thank the Committee , especially our Secretary and Treasurer for the hours of work they do. I see the work Catherine puts in at the computer, correcting my gaffes , and preparing our monthly newsletters for emailing or post. Anne has the responsibility for handling the monies paid in and the accounts going out and I thank her for that. In this day and age, it is not as simple as it used to be. Without Anne and Catherine doing the behind-the-scenes work, our club would grind to a halt ! Thank you both, from us all .

Paul Huckett


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