Katie & Nicole attacking Chinese Elm

Katie and Nicole, from Queensland University of Technology, returned to our Tuesday Bushcare again this week joining myself, Marshal, Michael and Edd to fight off the weed invaders in the gully.

I just had to point Katie and Nicole at the Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis and say “That weed has to go.”

These two will take on any challenge!

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Marshal removing the felled tree

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Marshal chipped in to drag the tree out and trim it so the logs can be used to stabilise the slope.

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Edd chasing Bamboo roots almost all the way to Sydney

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Edd, in the meantime, tackled the Bamboo regrowth chasing the roots right up the slope … he thought it was going to lead him all the way to Sydney.

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Thank you Katie

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Another thirteen bags of weeds removed as well as Bamboo and a medium sized Chinese Elm … outstanding!

A sad day though as Katie and Nicole leave us. Thank you Katie and Nicole you are going to be inspiring teachers for some lucky students.

(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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(l-r) Katie, Toby and Nicole

Sometimes you meet a person who is just special. Today I was lucky enough to meet two such people. Katie and Nicole are Queensland University of Technology students training to be primary school teachers.With teachers like these two our future is in good hands.

Today was rainy all morning and it was expected it to continue all afternoon. This did not put off these two … the idea of wearing garbage bag raincoats was seen as fun, mud … no problem! This is particularly impressive when you know that Katie grew up in Hong Kong and this is the first time she has actually been in a forest.

I liked these two immediately … especially when Toby my spaniel immediately made friends … however they really won me over when they not only found this tiny snail but also shared my excitement.

Katie and Nicole took everything in their stride, laughed all the time and formed one of the most productive teams we have had in Fox Gully. Between us we removed three wheelie bins of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia clearing another large area of this invasive weed for nature to restore with native grasses, vines and ferns.

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.

Mt Gravatt Bush Blokes - Marshal, Michael & Paul

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Mt Gravatt Bush Blokes installed the first of our new nest boxes high in a Tallowwood ready for a family of Rainbow Lorikeets or Pale-headed Rosellas to move in.

The nest boxes made by Mt Gravatt Men’s Shed also include designs for Squirrel/Sugar Gliders and the smaller Scaly-breasted Lorikeets – green with yellow ‘scales’ on their chest and bright orange flashes as their underwings are exposed in flight.

The initial order of ten boxes which will be used in restoration of the Fox Gully and Firefly Gully wildlife corridors which will provide urgently needed nesting sites and bring birds and Gliders literally into the community backyards.

The Men’s Shed boxes have been beautifully made with high quality materials – stainless steel hinges, galvanised nails, FSC certified exterior ply, Cutex wood preservative donated by , all following nest box designs from Nest boxes for wildlife by Alan & Stacey Franks – a copy was donated by Hollowlog Homes.

The design includes a lid that can be lifted for inspection, an internal ladder and a removable base for clearing ferral invaders like Indian Mynas.

The box was attached to the tree using 3mm fencing wire covering in hose with a zig-zag section on both side to allow for expansion as the tree grows.

Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus – race melanocephalus

Topknot Pigeon Lopholaimus antarcticus

The BAAM envirionmental researchers started their fieldwork for the Flora & Fauna Assessment of Mimosa Creek Precinct. Working in Fox Gully and Firefly Gully last Monday/Tuesday they identified three species of micro-bats Gould’s Wattled Bat Chalinolobus gouldii, White-striped Freetail Bat Tadarida australis and Eastern Bentwing Bat Miniopterus oceanensis. They also found Koala while spotlighting and identified Topknot Pigeon Lopholaimus antarcticus.

Topknots have not been identified in the Reserve before and yesterday a flight of 10 to 15 birds came over very quietly cruising around then settling in a large gully tree. The addition of Topknots to our species list brings us to forty-nine native bird species identified on Mt Gravatt.

Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus - race melanocephalus

Today I was lucky to get my first photos and video of our Striated Pardalots Pardalotus striatus – race melanocephalus. I frequently hear these cute birds when walking the Summit Track however they are small and flighty so I have not been able to get any photos.

Black Jezebel Delias nigrina

To top off a big week for new species I also photographed a female Black Jezebel Delias nigrina butterfly. This brings our species count up to forty-six butterflies in the Reserve.

The Flora & Fauna Assessment project is funded by a grant from Dept of Environment accessed with the support of Phil Reeves and then Enviornment Minister Hon Kate Jones

Fishbone mat being pushed back

Our Tuesday afternoon bushcare group, Mt Gravatt Bush Blokes, are really making their mark with a large section of Fox Gully now clear of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia.

Fishbone Fern commonly spreads into our bushland through garden waste dumping. Simply dumping garden prunings is not “mulching” as a contractor recently tried to tell me. Garden green waste dumping is one of the three key threats to Mt Gravatt Reserve. The other two threats are downhill mountain biking/unofficial tracks and feral animals/uncontrolled domestic pets.

Michael with Catch of The Day

Fishbone is a good case study of how of garden waste dumping threatens our precious remaining parcels of suburban bushland. Like most ferns, Fishbone can spread by wind-blown spores, however each plant appears to produce only a few fertile fronds. Therefore, the main way this invasive weed is spreading at our site is via runners or stolon, similar to the runners on strawberry plants.  The word “stolon” comes from the Latin word “stolō” meaning a shoot, branch, or twig springing from the root.

Most of the site is thickly coated in Fishbone which is removed easily but cannot be composted on-site. The stolons and hairy tubers do not decompose easily and will simply re-shoot: approximately one hundred and fifty garbage bags of Fishbone removed to-date.

Forest Pittosporum

At the edges of the infected area the fern stolons are spreading among the native grasses. It is common to pull out a metre long runners with new tubers attached. Left in-place these runners develop in a mat of weed smothering all other plants. It is slow work then you find positive signs of natural regeneration like this flowering Forest Pittosporum Pittosporum revolutum.

My current observations suggest that once we have cleared the Fishbone re-infection by spore transmission is unlikely. Ongoing education is dramatically reducing green waste dumping so with the Fishbone removed natural regeneration with indigenous ferns and grasses will reduce edge-effect and provide long-term consolidation of this unique habitat.


Southside Community News - ISSUE 27 August 2011

Waking up to a Koala climbing into the house is special. Knowing that this is a sign of a strengthening Koala population in our special piece of suburban bushland gives me a real feeling of hope for the future.

Koalas are only one fauna species in a reserve where we have already identified forty-five butterfly species and two hundred and fifty-four native plant species, however, they are one of our iconic Australian animals.

Koalas will help us not only protect our special piece bushland they will also help change the way people think about the future. I write about birds, butterflies, Koalas and frogs because community members relate to these animals at a direct emotional level. They open their hearts and allow themselves to learn about the complex web of interrelationships that bring our mountain habitat alive with these special creatures.

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Female with Joey - Sept 2009 - Sue Jones

We have been collecting flora and fauna data for some years and I have now started a wildlife sightings database to capture more accurate information on species, date/time and location.

This female and joey were photographed by Sue Jones on the northern slope of the mountain in 2009. We also have photographic evidence of Koalas near Gertrude Petty Place, Rover Street Bushcare and Fox Gully Bushcare. Photos and location details of Echidnas, Squirrel Gliders and frogs, as well as, some unusual bugs are all contribution to our knowledge of the Reserve.

The BAAM team will also use any data we collect for the Flora and Fauna Assessment project.

Please email any wildlife sighting details, species, date/time, location preferably with digital photos, to megoutlook@gmail.com Infomation on dead wildlife is also important as it helps build up a picture of wildlife movements and potential dangers like vehicles and domestic dogs.