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.

We love living with our bushland backyard.

Last night we had a Koala visiting: read Do Koalas visit you at home? Today we were being entertained by a Scaly-breasted Lorikeet Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus playing in the birdbath.

These beautiful birds tend to flock with the larger Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus. At first glance Scalys are not as colourful as Rainbows however as you will see in the video their true colours are hidden and only show when they fly.

Winter in Brisbane is a wonderful time. Warm and sunny then occasionally we have a cold day like yesterday, 13° centigrade at 10am.

Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae

Even the Kookaburras thought it was cold yesterday. This one looked so cute perched on our fence and all fluffed up against the cold. Click on the photo to see it full size.

Early Black Wattle Acacia leiocalyx

Winter also means displays of yellow Wattle flower like the Early Black Wattle Acacia leiocalyx with its distinctive long cynctrical flowers. My sister calls this Lamb Tail Wattle because of the flower shape.

Red coloured triangular stem

Leiocalyx can be identified by the red colour and distinct triangular shape of the stems.

Leiocalyz is also a caterpillar food plant for a number of different butterflies:

Wattle Notodontid Moth Neola semiaurata

Imperial Hairstreak, Small Purple and Short-tailed Line Blue as well as caterpillars of Granny’s Cloak Moth and  Wattle Notodontid Moth.

On Sunday I had the honour of presenting again at the annual BCC Habitat Brisbane Induction Day for new bushcare volunteers at Downfall Creek Bushland Centre.

My presentation was focused on maintaining the energy and motivation of bushcare volunteers.

Employee/volunteer productivity is based on:

• Individual motivation
• Individual fitness, skill and experience
• Work unit organisational structure

Plus when we are doing bush restoration work:

  How well we engage nature.

  Nature works 24/7 to build on our work.

It was only when I was preparing my presentation that I realised the full significance of natural regeneration and partnering with nature. As I explained on Sunday a group may only be able to meet once a month however nature was building on their work 24 hours a day 7 days a week for the next month. So a few hours work once a month becomes something much greater with the help of nature.

View my presentation BCC Induction – Group Motivation

Best Practice Sheet for 2 Prong Hoe – Best Practice Sheet – Removing Asparagus Fern – 2 Prong Hoe

“What are the Noisy Miners making a fuss about?” asked my wife.

We were having coffee this morning when the Noisy Miners Manorina melanophrys really started living up to their name.

Searching around we spotted a pair of Pacific Baza’s  Aviceda subcristata high in a Tallowwood  Eucalyptus microcorys and surrounded by Minors.

The Bazas are a medium sized hawk and while they typically feed on large insects: stick insects and mantids, and frogs, they are a large predator as far as the Miners are concerned.

Their distinctive hooked beak is typical of predators like hawks and eagles.

The Miners, another name is Happy Family, are very protective, ganging-up and becoming very aggressive  in chasing away even much bigger birds. I managed to get a photo of a Miner which must have been almost touching as it flew past harassing one of the Bazas.

These are a spectacular bird and we feel very lucky to have them in the forest. Hopefully this is a breeding pair.

For more information visit Birds in Backyards.

Fox Gully Bushcare has been nominated for the 2011 Keep Australia BeautifulSpotless Suburb Award.

No, we have not suddenly become a suburb in our own right; there is an award under the ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION category. See the 2010 winners.

Fox Gully and Mt Gravatt Environment Group were also both nominated for the 2010 awards.

It is great to receive the recognition of  a nomination even if we do not win the award. However, I welcome any ideas, thoughts and/or testimonials I can use in preparing for the judging next Wednesday.

Winning the Environmental Protection category section of Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs will be valuable public relations supporting our community education activities, strengthen our ability to access grant funding for projects and allow us to give wider acknowledgement to our corporate supporters:

If you have taken part in one of our planting days or events, what did you enjoy?

How has our work restoring this two hectares add value for you?

What comment do you have about my wildlife articles in Southside Community News?

Please comment here or email megoutlook@gmail.com

Wednesday Bushcare was in Zone 14 today.This area was replanted with native grasses, Acacias and Tallowwoods planted in October 2009.

The growth has been amazing! This Tallowwood planted less than eighteen months ago is now towering Lu, a Griffith University Environment student who helps with Wednesday Bushcare.

We can all be proud of this fantastic result, particularly considering the hot dry conditions at the time of the planting. The planting was done with water crystals, the Tallowwoods sprayed with Yates DroughtShield, protected with shade cloth and the area heavily mulched to reduce heat damage to roots and retain moisture.

The hot dry conditions can be seen in photo below taken when planting was almost complete. Because we could not get tank water to this part of our Bushcare site, the BCC Habitat Brisbane team organised a water tanker to visit the following week.

Read about the event: Fox Gully Restoration Update – Oct09

Weather conditions have been very different since then so our work today was weed control and putting mulch filters in place to control silt runoff from the maintenance track.

Considering the size of the area restored weed control onsite is a  relatively small job because the native grasses are now doing an excellent job of suppressing weed growth. At the same time we are starting to see natural regeneration with Scambling Lily Geitonoplesium cymosum, Poison Peach  Trema tomentosa (food plant for Speckled Link-blue butterfly) and Gotu Cola Centella asiatica (bushtucker: leaves eaten as vegetable. Aborigines soaked the flowers to make a syrup to drink for sore throats and colds.) all starting to return to the site.

Therefore, Steve and Lu were able to work on installation of mulch filters. The filters work by slowing the water flowing off the track allowing time for the silt to settle out before the water passes through and down into the gully. The extraordinary January rains did no damage to our restored sites which are layered with logs retrained from the clean-up, then covered with mulch to retain moisture and reduce erosion. However, the maintenance track did suffer significant erosion which showed as muddy water in the gully.

The first filters are proving effective with in controlling silt so we are expanding the area protected. We are also hopeful that these filters will also reduce the spread of weed seeds, particularly the highly invasive Giant Parramatta Grass which has recently appeared along the track.

Alan’s daughter was the first to react, “Something just flew past!” Our neighbours were enjoying a quiet evening on their deck when a Squirrel Glider landed on a Tallowwood nearby.

Alan has a passion for photography, so we now have our first photos of Gliders returning to our bushcare site.

Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis and the smaller Sugar Gliders Petaurus breviceps are both found on Mt Gravatt. However, the only recent reports have been from the eastern side, so it is a real pleasure to find one in our bushcare site. For information on Gliders visit the Queensland Glider Network.

These fascinating creatures glide between trees using the kite-like format created when they stretch out the membrane extending from wrist to ankle. Because the gliding distance is limited, the population is currently isolated within the Mt Gravatt Reserve. Restoration of the wildlife corridor down Fox Gully to Klump Road is the first step in creating links with Roly Chapman Reserve and indirectly to Toohey Forest. Once we have the gully corridor restored the next step is to research wildlife movement solutions like glider poles spaced to allow safe crossing of Klump Road.

The gully restoration is progressing well with a Koala recorded by Pauline’s family, about three-quarters of the way down towards Klump Road.

“You are doing a fantastic job! I would like to bring other bushcare groups here to see this site. It is a great case study in bushcare best practice and natural regeneration.” Last Thursday was our annual site inspection and Kate our local BCC Habitat Brisbane bushcare officer was very impressed with the progress with restoration.

Mai clearing Fishbone Fern

We are lucky at this site to have surrounding bush to provide seed for natural regeneration. However, I believe the main reason for our success, is our almost zero use of herbicides in clearing weeds.

In planning restoration of Zone 13, I did a systematic search of the area and found a six different native fern species, Basket Fern, Rough Maindenhair Fern, Rasp Fern, Gristle Fern Mountain Bracken and Elkhorn Fern, still surviving amongst the invasive Fishbone Fern. Poisoning was therefore not an option: herbicides kill all plants not just the weeds.

Hand removal of weeds seems  slow initially however it reduces long term workload as the native grasses significantly reduce weed regrowth, saving time with follow-up weed removal and reducing the need for re-planting.

Time for a break

Restoration of heavily infected areas needs to be done in stages working from the edges to maximise natural regeneration and minimise weed re-infection. Systematic removal of the Fishbone Fern starts with clearing the bulk of ferns and immediatly bagging to minimise disturbance and spreading of spores from fertile fronds. The next stage is careful removal of fibrous roots and numerous hairy brown or white nodules underground. Fishbone is so successful reinfection can be caused by spread of spores or regrowth from roots and nodules. Therefore, the easiest most successful restoration is based on good work practices: less effort better results.

Of course good work practice includes a making time for a break, a cup of tea and a chat. Our bushcare workforce are all volunteers so ensuring they relax and enjoy the time is an important part of building motivation to return.

September 2010 the FWR Group joined our Wednesday Bushcare and started on the daunting task of clearing the huge area of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia, from the gully. See  my post: Business Goes Bush in Mt Gravatt

Wednesday Bushcare this week will return to that site to remove any regrowth of Fishbone. When I inspected the site to assess the work required, I was so blown away by the extraordinary natural regeneration occurring, I had to do a quick review.

Cindy, Tessa, Virginia, Luke and Mike

Removing Fishbone fern can be a fiddly frustating job: digging out every nodule then carrying the loaded tubs to the top of the slope. Every part of the fern has to be removed from site to reduce risk of re-infection.

In this situation it is great to have a group who can share some fun. “What are these strange nodules we keep digging up?” Cindy is from Busan, South Korea. Tessa,Virginia, Luke and Mike are part of the FWR team.

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The team also removed Easter Cassia, Chinese Elm and Ochna.

Virgina proved quite adept with the new Treepopper provided by our sponsor BCC Habitat Brisbane.

Seeing results is a key factor in motivation for a volunteer bushcare workforce. The Treepopper delived results on the day, making easy work of these, normally hard to remove, woody weeds.

Nine is the biggest team we have had for Wednesday Bushcare and at the end of the afternoon the results showed. The thick green border of Fishbone shows how much has been removed to create this clear ground.

That same area is now covered

Ottochloa gracillima Graceful Grass

in a thick growth of Ottochloa gracillima Graceful Grass which is supressing weed growth as well as providing caterpillar food for Brown and Orange-streaked Ringlet butterflies.

Hybanthus stellarioides Spade Flower

There has been some regrowth of Fishbone fern and some infection with other weeds however the most striking change is the extraordinary natural regeneration of the native grasses, herbs and ferns. Herbs like the unusual Spade Flower Hybanthus stellarioides are now appearing in this area where they were not found before.

Drynaria rigidula Basket Fern

The Basket Fern has also benefited from the weed removal with fresh new growth appearing and outgrowing the invasive Fishbone.

Visiting this part of the site and seeing the native plants restoring the habitat is a real boost.

So I hope you can join us this week for Wednesday Bushcare in Fox Gully.