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.

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.


Ian with Michael and Paul in background

Ian Walker, LNP candidate for Mansfield, joined the team for Tuesday Bushcare today: removing Fishbone Fern in Zone 13.

I showed Ian the power of natural regeneration and explained the concept of Green Mulching: controlling weeds, erosion and water loss with native grasses.

(l-r) Marshal Paul Michael

Ian was particularly interested in the use of native grasses for bushfire control. Introduced weeds like Guinea Grass Panicum maximum are a major bushfire risk because of the volume of loose dead grass that accumulates. Native Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillimawhich is regenerating and controlling weeds in the cleared area, is also ideal for bushfire control as it is low growing and does not build up large volumes of dead grass as it quickly recycled by Australian insects adapted to the local grasses.

Time for a cuppa and jam donuts. Eleven garbage bags of Fishbone removed today!

Now it is time for nature to take over restoring native grasses, Basket Fern Drynaria rigidula, Rasp Fern Doodia media, Scrambling Lilly Geitonoplesium cymosum  and Soapy or Red Ash Alphitonia excelsa which is a food tree for caterpillars of Small Green-banded Blue butterflies.

One of the powerful things I have learned about bushcare is that if we put in 10% clearing the weeds nature then contributes 90%, working 24/7 doing natural regeneration with local plants and weed control with Green Mulching.