Merri Creek Management Committee

People using Merri pathThanks to 67 generous donors, our 2020 Merri Creek Environment Fund Appeal raised a healthy $14,500. This heartening response reflects how much the local community cares for Merri Creek and people's gratitude for its restored environs. We have seen a huge increase in the number of people using the Merri Creek parklands for their physical and mental well-being during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We were touched by appreciative comments from donors: You have created a ribbon of magic through the suburbs the Merri Creek travels.

I've seen photos of the degraded state of the creek before community members started caring for it.  The collective action has made a remarkable difference, creating a place that gives enormous value to the community and a wonderful environmental benefit.

Nest Box monitoringOur Merri Creek Nest Box Pilot Project has had a busy first year. Thirty-two nest boxes and log hollows for small birds and micro bats were attached to tall eucalypts in Merri Park, Northcote. Community members and students enthusiastically participated in seven monitoring events held between November 2019 and February 2020. Some events were held in the daytime and others in the evening. 

The Year 1 Summary Report documents the project so far, the lessons learnt, interesting observations and the next stepsfor the project. We hope to start community monitoring events again in Spring, in time for nesting birds.

This project was funded by generopus community donations to the Merri Creek Environment Fund and a grant from the Arthur and Hazel Bruce Bequest. 

Nest Box MonitoringThirty-two nest boxes and log hollows for microbats and small birds were installed in trees along Merri Creek in Merri Park, Northcote by skilled arborists in early September 2019. This work was supported by generous public donations to the Merri Creek Environment Fund and a grant from the Hazel and Arthur Bruce Bequest. Volunteers then monitored the boxes and hollows using cameras on poles and “sunset watches” where they looked for bats and birds leaving and entering boxes and hollows.

Why do we need nest boxes and log hollows?
Over the last 40 years, MCMC, Friends of Merri Creek, government agencies and thousands of volunteers have revitalised the lower Merri Creek, resulting in a dramatic increase in the number and variety of bird species. However, many bird and microbat species require tree hollows to shelter and nest in. It can take up to 70 years for small hollows to form in trees and 100 years for large hollows.

Over the last 40 years, MCMC, Friends of Merri Creek, government agencies and thousands of volunteers have revitalised the lower Merri Creek, resulting in a dramatic increase in the number and variety of bird species. However, many bird and microbat species require tree hollows to shelter and nest in. It can take up to 70 years for small hollows to form in trees and 100 years for large hollows.

Why are we targeting microbats and small birds?
A review of current literature and initial talks with Darebin Creek Management Committee, La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary and professional arborists, made it clear that nest box programs targeting small birds and microbats had the greatest likelihood of success. These smaller species are able to use nest boxes that Common Mynahs, an aggressive introduced species, are unable to fit into. Larger urban nest boxes can quickly be overrun by Common Mynahs which then use them as a base to dominate the parklands and chase out native species. Our feasibility report for the nest box project describes these issues.

In 2018 community donations to Merri Creek Management Committee’s public fund, the Merri Creek Environment Fund (MCEF), supported a project at the Say G’day Trail reserve at the top of the Merri catchment at Heathcote Junction. The ecoogical restoration activities aimed to improve the habitat values of the area, in keeping with the character of remnant vegetation in the reserve, and to address several threats to the vegetation identified during previous restoration works. The project paid for the:

Say GDay bus tourEstablishment of 700 wildflower plants with high self-regenerating potential to increase diversity of restored area and provide ‘pollination partners’ for remnant species lacking sufficient numbers to maintain viable populations.

Development of a management plan for the reserve, to ensure Mitchell Shire Council’s weed and fire management programs maintain or improve the site’s significant environmental values.

Design of a brochure to educate residents and trail users about the ecological values of the reserve and ‘good neighbour’ practices.

The project also contributed to the costs of a community ‘Secret Seven bus tour’, which visited the Say G'DayTrail and other reserves in the upper Merri catchment, and educated locals and other community members on the important values of these sites and threats to the sites’ survival.

You can read the full project report here (pdf).

Photo: Bus tour participants visiting the Say G’day Trail on 10th November 2018. The group is examining remnant vegetation and is learning about the habitat requirements of rare species. This area contains Dwarf Boronia and native grasses that host Golden Sun Moths.

Donations to the 2014 & 2015 Appeals were spent on:

PLANTING UP THE GAP - CONTINUING NATIVE VEGETATION HABITAT ALONG MERRI CREEK

Over 30 people turned up on Mother’s Day in May 2015, despite an early deluge of rain, to help to plant out grasses at a long neglected section of the Merri Creek at Fawkner.

A community planting day at this site was held on Sunday 14 August 2016, to continue the work of creating new habitat.

To ensure the grasses survive over the critical first two years, Merri Creek Management Committee staff are regularly keeping weeds under control.

PRESERVING 25 YEARS OF MERRI HISTORY

During 2016 the fabulous exhibition: Merri Creek - from wasteland to parklands toured around the municipalities which have been part of that story. Donations helped make this exhibition a reality. Check out the exhibition banners here.

A FACELIFT FOR MERRI CREEK - BRUNSWICK EAST

One of the early sites of the Merri Creek’s recovery was a planting of Redgums near CERES in the 1980s. The site has been managed by Merri Creek Management Committee for over 20 years. CERES uses this site to introduce the history of Merri Creek’s restoration to thousands of children and visitors each year. A community planting day was held on 15 May 2016 to help improve this site and fill in some of the gaps.  

Wurundjeri panel - featureSee a web version of these fabulous panels which celebrate the outstanding community achievement since 1975 in transforming Merri Creek from a weed-smothered drain to a much-loved waterway running through a bushland corridor: fronts of panels (17MB file); backs of panels (9MB file).

The two metre size panels were originally displayed at libraries and other public places throughout the Merri Creek catchment over 16 months until late 2016, in celebration of MCMC's 25th Anniversary. 

kingfisher