Sunny days and Green thumbs! Planting day 2011

Ahh.. the serenity.....there's nothing like a little gardening to help pull back on life's throttle!! With that in mind, back in September, the Hallett Valley catchment care group went about rounding up a few volunteers from out of the winery to help with our latest planting project. With the promise of sunny skies and a BBQ lunch it wasn't too hard to get people out and into the dirt!

Digging the holes!

The crew get to work... lots to do from here!

Part of our winemaking team handing out the same TLC to the plants as they give to our wines!

All hands on deck....unless your on the camera of course!!!

Masters in the art of plastic and sticks....

Almost done! With Stuart looking suitably impressed!
Even though with so many helpers it only took an hour or so to plant all the was all a bit too much for winemaker....zzzz..... Jeremy....zzzz..... Thankfully our viticulturists have a bit of stamina!!
Big thanks have to go to Liz Ninnes from the NRM Board for supplying some of the native plants used for this planting and also Donovans Earthcare team for also supplying many of the native plants used and also for digging all the holes and their general help on the day!

St Hallett's creatures of the night!

Thought I would post up a photo of the group of 10 Gould's Wattled bats which have taken up residence in one of the Bat roosting boxes I built! built these boxes from scratch having never built a bat box before! so it was a bit of an experiment! Satisfying when it works and some of our cute little Barossian micro Bats move in!
Gould's Wattled Bats all snuggled up!
Have hung another couple of boxes in the last few weeks so hopefully they will be occupied soon to!

Chris Steeles

Project Bird Boxes

I will start with an extract of an email I sent to the NRM board to do with improving the St Hallett wastewater eucalypt plantations:
With only small remnants of natural woodland left in the northern Mt Lofty ranges, most native wildlife populations are left isolated and on a downward slide to oblivion. I believe we owe it to the original inhabitants of this region, within our capabilities, to preserve and expand the habitats that are left.
The North Para River acts as probably the single most important natural corridor for wildlife through the Barossa region. My idea is to improve the St Hallett Winery section of this corridor by building and installing a range of different sized bird/bat breeding and roosting boxes throughout the wastewater eucalypt plantations in an attempt to make the area more attractive to native wildlife. There are many native bird species (Rosellas, Lorikeets, Red-rump Parrots, Treecreepers, Pardalotes, Kookaburras etc) in this area which would benefit from such a project.  etc...etc...

With this in mind I got in contact with the NRM board to arrange some funding so I could start building a few Bird and Bat Breeding/Roosting boxes around the woodlots. Using a little of the time afforded to me by there still being a few casual helpers about the winery left over from vintage, I managed to build 12 bird boxes of different sizes and 2 Bat roosting boxes and get them up around the winery grounds just before the breeding season commenced.

It didn't take to long before the Adelaide Rosellas started checking the new boxes out

Whats in here?

The project turned out to be a big success with every bird box made being used at sometime during the season! At least 7 chicks fledged from the boxes that I know of, 1 nest failed for some unexplained reason and many feral Starling eggs were removed!
The Bat boxes are still unused at this stage but I believe this is not unusual, as bats tend to like the box to be aged a while before they will use it, so I'm still hopeful!!

Half-fledged Adelaide Rosella chicks
This is an ongoing project and more updates will follow!

On the starting blocks, ready to leap into it!

Welcome to the first instalment of Green Block Shiraz!

I will start with a bit of a rundown of who we are and what we are about! Basically we are a catchment care group based at St Hallett Winery in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. Our little group consists of three enthusiastic members who all work at St Hallett and have decided to do our little bit for the local environment by greening up and restoring as many area's in the winery grounds as we can. This will be done with help from the Northern Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resource Board and the Winery itself.

Some of the projects we have been working on so far include; a little creek which runs through the winery grounds and looked as if it needed some help to keep it's banks together and also the building of 12 (so far) bird and bat breeding/roosting boxes!

The following photos are of a few "volunteers" we found throughout the winery to help us on our day of planting along the creek in Spring 2010!

Ready to grow!

The enthusiastic "volunteers"!!!!

"Senior" Cellarhand Greg (I'm always getting my hands dirty!) Schmidt, getting his hands dirty!!!

Winemaker Shelley enjoying a break from making great wine 

Winemaker Jeremy in quiet contemplation over the pro's and con's of attempting to jump this creek on his skateboard?

Trev from maintenance wondering how to weld this all together!

Our American connection Darin practising his baseball bat grip!

Ian doing what he does best, Shelley looking like she just got bitten by an Inch Ant! and Gaby looking a little amused by it all!


Fiona looking a little too clean for tree planting...... time to get those knees dirty Fi!!

Megs giving moral support!

Justin 'Captain Forklift' Schmidt explaining to a bemused Chris R the merits of doing this job with a forklift and how much easier it would be!

This bloke did a stellar job and definately earnt his beer at the end of the day!!

 Photos of the results will be posted at a later date.
 Not many Inch Ants where harmed during the planting of the trees! that was until Chris R decided the creek would look better without them.......