Wildlife of Mt Gravatt Reserve


Moultrie wildlife camera

We have moved the wildlife camera down to Jeanette’s place at the bottom of Fox Gully where it joins Klumpp Road.

Foxes, the four legged variety, have been raiding Jeanette’s chook pen on a regular basis, killing up to seven chooks in one night and stashing the bodies in the gully to eat later. The chooks are locked up every night these days so there is no immediate threat however the is evidence that they are still getting under the fence at night.

The BCC team has been working to catch foxes in Mt Gravatt Reserve. If we can get accurate information on the fox raiding parties we hope to be able to work with the BCC team to target the ones coming up the gully.

South Queensland Kauri – Agathis robusta

It was a real pleasure visiting Jeanette’s property which is an amazing flora and fauna habitat in itself.

A giant South Queensland Kauri Agathis robusta dominates the skyline.

Superb Fairy-wren Malurus cyaneus

And Fairy-wrens chipping in the bushes. Jeanette stopped to listen then pointed into the bushes where there was a male Superb Fairy-wren Malurus cyaneus.

A very special piece of bushland. I am looking forward to visiting again to recover the wildlife camera.

Using a Moultrie wildlife camera to monitor the activities in our gully we will learn more about what fauna is using the wildlife corridor.

I have been curious about what had been digging at one particular point so I set up the camera with its movement sensor and infrared flash to monitor activity around the hole.

The hole appears to be the work of Brush Turkeys Alectura lathami who visit during the day. Like this one head down in the hole at 6:56am last Wednesday. (click on photo to enlarge)

The Brush-tailed Possums Trichosurus vulpecula in the video came on two nights between 11:30pm and 1:30am.

Joseph’s Coat Moth – photo Kerry Sinigaglia

Kerry Sinigaglia took these amazing photos of the aptly named Joseph’s Coat Moth Agarista agricola. 

Click on the photo to enlarge. Then note the different types of scales, broad scales on the wings and long hair like scales on the thorax.

Getting close to wildlife

The coloured wing scales give the wide range of patterns that moths use for camouflage and identification of mates. The scales also allow moths to escape spider webs by leaving scales behind allowing escape.

Joseph’s Coat Moth caterpillar on Cissus opaca
Forest Grape

The hair like thorax scales provide insulation needed to maintain high muscle temperature during flight.

The caterpillar of these beautiful moths is also spectactular.

I photographed my first Glasswing Acraea andromacha this week.

The wings of most butterflies are covered with coloured scales. The Glasswing butterfly has no scales on its forewing giving it a translucent glassy appearance. These wings are also very trough which may help given the unusual mating behaviour. Males capture newly emerged females as soon as they fly, carry them to the ground where they mate forcibly. (The Butterflies of Australia – Orr & Kitching) Reading this forces me to look at butterflies very differently. My somewhat romantic view of butterflies as beautiful gentle creatures has come crashing to the ground as well.

The Glasswings are listed as common along the east coast, Victoria, Northern Territory and northern parts of Western Australia.

Food plants for Glasswing caterpillars on Mt Gravatt are the  native Spade Flower Hybanthus stellarioides, a delicate herb with a yellow “spade” shaped flower, and the invasive weed – Corky Passion Vine Passiflora suberosa.

Forty-five butterfly species have been identified on Mt Gravatt and with the development of Pollinator Links through the suburbs we aim to bring more of these beautiful and, it seems, agressive creatures back to backyards.

(l-r) Katie, Nicole, Edd and Marshal

The Tuesday Bushcare Team removed eighteen bags of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia in three hours this week.

Nature Works 24/7

The Team is only on site three hours a week however when we finish our partner, nature, takes over the restoration work delivering natural regeneration 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We do 10% of the work removing the weeds preparing the area for natural regeneration then nature does the other 90% of the work.

Edd removing weed regrowth

In Zone 13 we are only using natural regeneration:  no replanting or mulching with imported mulch. This reduces the amount of work required (no shoveling mulch or digging hole for plants) and the cost of the restoration (mulch costs about $40/cu metre and plants cost $2 each).

Green Mulching by natural regeneration of local native grasses is reducing weed regrowth, managing erosion and providing food for butterflies. The FWR Group started clearing the Fishbone in November 2010. Just sixteen months later the picture on the right shows the thick covering of Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillima minimising weed regrowth in the area cleared by FWR.

Edd Cross joined our team for the first time last Tuesday. However his experience with Conservation Volunteers Australia meant that I knew I could put the detailed work of clearing weed regrowth.

Two butterfly and four plant species restored to Fox Gully

Zornia dyctiocarpa

Natural regeneration has now restored Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras and Australian Leafwing Doleschallia bisaltide butterflies as well as, four plant species including Zornia Zornia dyctiocarpa and Shepherd’s Crook Orchid Geodorum densiflorum, an endangered species in NSW.

Partnering with nature, Fox Gully Bushcare is having a huge impact in restoration of our unique Mountain habitat.

Shepherd's Crook Orchid Geodorum densiflorum

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Australian Leafwing Doleschallia bisaltide

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Australian Leafwing butterflies Doleschallia bisaltide have returned to Fox Gully Bushcare as their caterpillar food plant Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variable is restored.The butterfly is well named. Once it lands and folds its wings it almost disappears as it looks so much like a leaf. However, wait a couple of minutes for it to open its wings … the bright orange tips on its feelers give a clue – top side of its wings are bright orange with black trim.

Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variable

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Love Flower is a beautiful little herb that is common on the Mountain but it had disappeared from the Fox Gully Bushcare site. The flowers were planted as part of our first Community Planting Day in 2007.

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Leafwing caterpillar munching on Love Flower

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We had one caterpillar last year and this year we found about a dozen munching on the Love Flowers. These caterpillars are the most extraordinary looking creatures you are likely to find in your backyard. They look like they are covered in shiny black barbed wire.

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Pete The Vet – Pete Wedderburn, emailed recently asking permission to use my photo of the Goliath Stick Insect Eurycnema goliath in an article in his local newspaper.

The interesting thing is that Pete The Vet lives in County Wicklow, Ireland and has a regular column in Bray People, the local Bray newspaper. Our Fox Gully wildlife is becoming world famous, featuring in the article Stick insects thrive without special attention… but multiply!

The article is very funny however the message is important – Don’t release exotic pets, this includes unwanted kittens, in the wild. Feral animals and roaming domestic pets are one of the key threats to wildlife in Mt Gravatt Reserve.

Our native Goliath Stick Insects are exotic animals in Ireland and Pete The Vet’s advice – “The main message: if you have too many stick insects, find a victim to take them on as pets rather than releasing them into the wild.”

I have an answer for at least one species. We saw these strange shadowy shapes in the Poison Peach Trema tomentosaone one night in November. On investigation we found two Noisy Minors Manorina melanophrys cuddled together.

With their heads tucked in they were almost impossible to identify.

Sunday 13 November: Twenty-one neighbours and community members came together to take part in something special – creation of a wildlife corridor which will reconnect Mt Gravatt Reserve with Mimosa Creek and Roly Chapman Reserve. The majority of Fox Gully is private property – the backyards of individual house blocks – so removing weeds and restoring the wildlife corridor requires the co-operation of thirty-seven separate property owners.

A critical step in the restoration was the removal a massive Indian Rubber Tree Ficus elastica in September – 5 men working solidly for 2 days – a huge job generously paid for by one of our Arafura Street neighbours. On advice from Prof Carla Catterall, Griffith University, we arranged for the contractors to leave the large stump for wildlife habitat. The contractor also placed logs on the slope and left two large piles of mulch.

Marshal and I chainsawed the remaining Yellow Oleandia Cascabela thevetia in advance to reduce risk of accidents when we had a large number of people on-site. Logs from the Yellow Oleandia were to be used on the slope to improve access for weeding/planting and to retain mulch and stop erosion.

Madeira Vine Anredera cordifolia  was the next challenge. Also called Potato Vine, this aggressive invader produces thousands of small aerial tubers which can remain viable on the vine or on the ground for five to ten years. Each tuber can send out multiple roots to produce a new vine that can grow at more than one metre per week, rapidly smothering other vegetation. As with many weeds, Madeira Vine is an attractive flowering vine originally introduced from South America as a garden plant. Because of the massive infestation of this weed I decided that the Arafura Street side of the site should not be planted immediately with the focus being eradication of this pest that will out grow any new planting.

The Madeira infestation was so bad that Roger was simply shoveling the tubers into tubs for removal. Even with that work on the Gully Day, Don and I  still removed a full wheelie bin of tubers as we worked on the slope placing logs and mulch. Now that we are getting this major infestation under control we can work with neighbours up and down the gully to eradicate Madeira from the wildlife corridor.

On the day the team removed six cubic metres of rubbish and green waste, an extraordinary achievement when you consider that everything had to be carried up out of the gully to the rubbish skip in O’Grady Street.

Grey-headed Flying-fox Pteropus poliocephalus

They certainly earned a break for morning tea and an opportunity to meet some of the world’s only flying mammals – a really cute Grey-headed Flying-fox Pteropus poliocephalus, a juvenile Black Flying-fox Pteropus alecto and a tiny micro-batLittle Broad-nosed Bat Scotophilus greyi. Jenny and Denise, wildlife carers with Bat Conservation & Rescue Qld, joined us to introduce these cute creatures first hand, dispel some media-myths about Flying-foxes and share ideas on how we can protect and encourage these valuable pollinators and insect catchers. One simple thing we can do is encourage the use of wildlife-excluding HailGuard which protects fruit and vegetables without endangering bats, birds and possums that can get tangled in other netting.

Grey-headed Flying-foxes are found in Mt Gravatt Reserve and BAAM researchers have identified three species of micro-bat in the Reserve.

Little Broad-nosed Bat Scotophilus greyi – insect catching micro-bat

Removal of the Indian Rubber Tree will hopefully restore the permanent spring and provide a water source to attract these micro-mozzie catchers back to the gully as well as promoting the frog population.

Since the Gully Day we have planted one hundred and forty plants and placed logs (recycled weed trees) on the steep slope and mulch is being spread. The event has also created a long term change in relations between neighbours and how neighbours relate to the gully … it is wonderful to see city kids exploring.

Special thanks to Jenny and Denise, Phil Reeves (who personally paid for the rubbish skip) and helpers Barry Williams – Mt Gravatt Men’s Shed, Peter Stirk – Vultures Football Club and Natalie Petersen – ALP candidate for Wishart Ward.

We had the third inspection of the new Men’s Shed nest box this morning. A pair of Pale-headed Rosellas gave the box a good looking over – climbing on top, looking inside and checking the corner joins for quality.

This box is made for Pale-headed Roselas based on design specifications from Hollowlog Homes: size/depth of box, size of entry hole, perch and internal ladder. However when first installed we had the box facing west. We have now moved it round to the southern aspect: recommended, and the box is now close to branches which the Pale-headed obviously like, as they used that to get close before landing on the box.

We are hoping that this couple move in soon. However, from talking to others I understand that these beautiful birds are very picky about their accomodation. A friend on acerage in Flagstone told me that it was two years before a pair of Pale-headed Roselas occupied his nest box but they have been back every year since. We will have to be patient.

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