Sunday 16 May 2021

Workshop leader Alan Moore, will challenge you to break the Golden Rule and utilise contre jour style to intensify line and form, shapes and silhouettes, allowing you to see detail in the clutter.

Gift your Mum, or yourself, with place at our annual Photography Workshop where Alan will introduce you to painting with light – artistry and aperture. Then discuss planning and pre-visualisation before we go on assignment in the bush.

Location: Fox Gully Bushcare – Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve

Registration form

Beat the Bites: Mosquito Research and Management

Toxorhynchites_TessSpillekom_Newcastle

“I’ve never seen anything like it. I actually heard it before I saw it!”

I get more than a dozen emails, tweets, or phone calls every summer like this. Excited (terrified?) correspondence asking about the “giant” mosquito captured in the backyard or buzzing about windows.

Toxorhynchites speciosus is as “good” a mosquito as there can be. First, it is a gorgeous creature. Almost four times the size of a typical mosquito, it is a large dark and shiny mosquito with bright metallic patterns.

There are around 70 species of Toxorhynchites mosquitoes around the world but only a few species found in Australia. The mosquito is reasonably common, but rarely very abundant. It is found along the eastern and north coast of Australia, stretching from Sydney through to Darwin.

Toxo_larvae The larvae of Toxorhynchites speciosus are large and easily spotted in water-holding containers around the backyard

This is one of the few mosquitoes…

View original post 641 more words

By: Michael Fox

One of my real pleasures with Bushcare is sighting wildlife to add to add to our Flora and Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

Today’s special find is a Swamp Wallaby Wallabia bicolor. For years I have been getting reports of wallabies in the Reserve and Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve across Klumpp Road. So it was a particular pleasure to sight this visitor this morning while doing Bushcare near our 2018 National Tree Day planting.

.

.

.

.

See a small cloud of Dainty Swallowtails Papilio anactus doing a bit of speed dating in the sun above our National Tree Day planting was very special.

I had to wait patiently till this cute specimen decided to pose for me.

Dainty Swallowtail caterpillars like Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus feed on our backyard citrus. So please be patient with your caterpillar friends who will only eat a few leaves and reward you with beautiful new butterflies to brighten your garden.

.

One of the curious creatures we found is a Wattle Notodontid Moth Neola semiaurata caterpillar. When disturbed the caterpillar will “ferociously” react by raising its tail with its horn and eye patches.

The caterpillar was feeding on Large-leaf Hop Bush Dodonaea triquetra. The caterpillars also feed on Brisbane Fringed Wattle Acacia fimbriata at the same site.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

The Magpie Moth Nyctemera secundiana caterpillar is a useful weed controller feeding on invasive weeds like Climbing Groundsel Senecio scandens*. This specimen was doing useful Bushcare work feeding on Cobblers Pegs Bidens pilosa*.

.

Two-tailed Leaf Beetle Aproida balyi

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

A Two-tailed Leaf Beetle Aproida balyi was also found feeding on Cobblers Pegs. An attractive bright grass-green with dark brown edges and characteristic horns.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Torresian Crow (left) and Cuckoo chick

We stopped for a coffee at the Love Well Project after Bushcare. Above us a Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae was screaming for food from its Torresian Crow Corvus orru “parent”.

Channel-billed Cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of other species and depend on those birds to hatch and feed their chicks. In this case a pair of Torresian Crows are playing host to this chick that is already larger than its “parents”. The Crows average size: 50cm, while the Channel-billed Cuckoo has an average size of 62cm.

Toxorhynchites speciosus
and Culex sp. larvae

By: Michael Fox

Our Koala Drinker research has identified more than birds and Lace Monitors.

It is mosquito season so we regularly check the drinkers for mossie larva. Something we were not expecting was finding mossie larvae that feed on other mossies and not people. Adult Toxorhynchites speciosus feed on plant juices not blood.

Toxorhynchites speciosus larvae are huge, approx 25mm, by comparison with common mossie larvae like Brown House Mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus approx 8mm.

Check before you flush the mossie larvae in your birdbath. If you have some Toxorhynchites speciosus larvae perhaps scoop them out ready to return once your birdbath is refilled. Remember to also catch some of the small larvae to feed the mossie eating Toxorhynchites speciosus.

By: Michael Fox

Volunteer enquiries: Michael Fox megoutlook@gmail.com

2021 Bushcare Calendar

Square-tailed Kite – Fox Gully Bushcare

.

Fox Gully Bushcare

Tuesday mornings 7:30am

Next event: 2 February

Team Leader:

Michael 0408 769 405

.

.

.

All ages welcome

.

Mt Gravatt State High School

Pollinator Link®

Next event: Sunday 14 March

Team Leader:

Laurie – ideacon61@gmail.com

Meet: Cnr. Bentham and Stanhope Streets

.

Sheamus supervising planting

.

.

.

.

.

Gertrude Petty Place Bushcare

Next event: Saturday 27 March

Team Leader:

Sheamus – sheamuso3@gmail.com

Meet at Gertrude Petty Place car park.

.

.

.

Ekibin Creek

.

Lower Ekibin Creek Bushcare

Next event: Sunday 28 March

Team leader:

Sue – 0415 290 225

Koala Mum and Joey Fox Gully Buschare

By: Michael Fox

Brisbane’s natural areas are a precious resource for both nature and people.

Please provide Council with feedback on the draft Brisbane Off-Road Cycling Strategy. The current strategy is putting large areas of our limited urban bushland at risk.

Email feedback to: parks@brisbane.qld.gov.au

Sign e-petition: Protect our Key Natural Areas – Off-Road Cycling Strategy on the Wrong Track

Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve supports a healthy breeding populations of Koalas Phascolarctos cinereus and Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis. The 66ha Reserve has 282 native plants which equals 20% of native plant species in the 22.6 million hectares of the United Kingdom. The Reserve also supports 62 bird, 49 butterfly, 12 native bee species and numerous beetles and bugs.

The Council’s Brisbane Off-Road Cycling Strategy which focuses on opening up bushland for mountain biking, may be a threat to special places like Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

In the past a small number of illegal mountain bikers ignoring Council signs have caused huge damage to the sensitive bushland our community members have spent thousands of hours restoring: 176 volunteers contributed 606 hours in the 2019/20 financial year.

Erosion caused by illegal mountain biking – Jan 2021

.

While less of problem in 2021, illegal mountain bikers are still making new tracks destroying plants and causing erosion. Even riders on the fire roads can’t resist the temptation to go “off-road”. Riders using the Acacia Way maintenance track have caused erosion that is undermining a mature eucalypt tree.

.

Branches and mulch used to close tracks

.

Illegal tracks dramatically increase erosion on steep slopes as water is channelled down hill. Closing down and repairing illegal tracks is a labour intensive and costly exercise: closing one track has required several metres of mulch, hundreds of branches recovered from the bush and laid on the track to stop bikes and start restoring the ground by collecting silt before it is washed downhill.

Even with these efforts by Council staff are not enough. I received a report this morning of orange barrier fences being removed and a father and son riding though the bush from the Summit to Gertrude Petty Place. Repair work like this uses scarce Council funds that could be used for improving facilities for all visitors.

National Tree Day 2018

As a BCC ratepayer and volunteer Habitat Brisbane Bushcare leader I am very concerned that a small percentage of our community are lobbying for a “free-ride” with access our bushland reserves without accepting the cost of that access. (A free-rider problem is a type of market failure that occurs when those who benefit from resources, public goods (such as public roads or hospitals), or services of a communal nature do not pay for them.)

.

National Tree Day 2015

Habitat Brisbane Bushcare volunteer contribution is typically $4 for every $1 invested by Council: provision of plants, tools and training. Bushcare is a very low risk activity which contributes to the health of our urban bushland while reducing maintenance costs for Council. On the other hand, off-road cycling is a relatively high risk recreational activity that damages bushland, increases maintenance costs and dramatically increases the potential for legal action against Council.

This article focuses on Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve because I have deep knowledge of this area with fourteen years actively restoring the Reserve, researching the flora and fauna and engaging an increasing number of community members in restoration or observing the dramatic increase community members walking in the bush. While I do not have the same knowledge of other Brisbane bushland reserves they will have same sensitive habitat and I can make general observations about the potential impact of off-road cycling on other reserves.

Signage: The current track no bikes signage is very small, very limited and ineffective for the target audience: typically young males riding fast and totally focused on riding not signs. Tourists are one group that definitely better signage: one rider I stopped going down the walking track from the Summit was a visitor from South America. Others simply claim they have not seen signs. Signs need to be larger and spread along the tracks so everyone is well aware of the rules: no excuses.

Vandalised no-bike sign

Fines with no Enforcement = no behaviour change: While off-ride cycling is illegal in the Reserve and subject to $500 fines enforcement appears to be non-existent. As I understand the situation the very Council Officers, Rangers / Habitat Brisbane Officers, who spend time on the ground in the Reserves are not allowed to even issue fines, let alone that stronger action.

The draft Brisbane Off-Road Cycling Strategy (BORCS) “seeks to reduce unauthorised [illegal] track construction” (page 6). It is hard to understand the logic of a strategy that manages illegal behaviour by rewarding the bad behaviour.

Most visitors to the Reserve are responsible however there are a small number that ignore the rules putting walkers at risk, damaging sensitive wildlife habitat, increasing maintenance costs, even vandalising the limited signage that exists.

The Off-Road Cycling Strategy suggests that “Increasing the authorised recreational use of natural areas will also increase casual surveillance which helps to deter illegal activity.” (BORCS page 11) While Cialdini’s Social proof is a valuable tool for influencing and changing behaviour, our experience using this to manage behaviour Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve has had mixed success. The very demographic we are dealing with: young males, means that our Bushcarers: typically retired and female, have to be very careful because violent verbal abuse is common. If this is an ongoing problem in a popular and busy Reserve like Mt Gravatt what control will there be in other reserves that do not have active Bushcare groups.

User Pays: Any football club or other community group that wants to uses Council land like parks and reserves are responsible for their own costs: lease fees, public liability insurance and property maintenance. While many and possibly most off-road cyclists are not part of a formal group that could provide public liability insurance and pay lease fees, they are still increasing costs and litigation risk. If the Council accepts this as a cost of providing valuable recreational activities this must not come out of limited environment budgets that are critical to habitat protection and restoration: “Council is continuing to invest in the protection and restoration of our city’s biodiversity, and we are on track to achieve the target of having 40% of Brisbane as natural habitat by 2031.” (BORCS page 8)

As a ratepayer I have contributed to Bushland Acquisition Program. I am concerned that land purchased to protect our urban bushland may now be “given” to a very small percentage of community members for their personal use. “More than 4300 hectares of land have been purchased and protected through Council’s Bushland Acquisition Program since 1990. The preservation and management of biodiversity within Brisbane’s natural areas is of vital importance.” (BORCS page 8)

Please provide Council with feedback on the draft Brisbane Off-Road Cycling Strategy.

Email feedback to: parks@brisbane.qld.gov.au

Sign e-petition: Protect our Key Natural Areas – Off-Road Cycling Strategy on the Wrong Track

Koala Mum and Joey – Fox Gully Bushcare

By: Michael Fox

Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve has no permanent water and no safe access to water or breeding opportunities in surrounding bushland.

The Koala Drinker research is providing vital baseline information on the potential of providing water for wildlife to maintain and strengthen populations of  vulnerable Koala Phascolarctos cinereus and other species in isolated urban bushland habitats. The Koala Drinker Research Project is supported by Communities Environment Program and sponsored by Ross Vasta MP.

Combined with the excellent Koala fencing built by Department of Transport and Main Roads (Queensland) keeping Koalas from being killed on the Motorway water for wildlife drinkers will strengthen the Koala population in the Reserve.

.

Concept Koala bridge – Cr Steven Huang

.

We are also working with Cr Steve Huang on his concept for a wildlife bridge across Klumpp Road from the bottom of Fox Gully to the Hibiscus Sports Complex then Mimosa Creek.

.

.

.

.

One very clear result of our research is how water for wildlife is valued by a wide range of species, particularly with over 6,000 visits by birds in a 6 month period. Special visitors are three bird species not previously identified in the Reserve: Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus, White-throated Honeyeater Melithreptus albogularis and Yellow-faced Honeyeater Lichenostomus chrysops.

Some of birds using the Koala Drinkers:

Other regular visitors to the water include Lace Monitors Varanus varius, Sugar Gliders Petaurus breviceps, Brush-tail Possums Trichosurus vulpecula, Koalas Phascolarctos cinereus, Long-tailed Rat (Research required to identify). The wildlife cameras also captured Wallabies and a European Red Fox Vulpes vulpes.

White Throated Honeyeater is one of the species added to Flora and Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve:

By: Michael Fox

2020 has been a difficult year with most of our Bushcare events cancelled. So I decided to check in with our partner “nature” to see what has been happening while we have been distracted by a COVID pandemic.

National Tree Day planting 2016 …………………….2021

2016 National Tree Day planting expanded the previous year’s planting of small forest bird habitat. A combination of Habitat Tripods and insect attracting plants to feed Fairy Wrens.

National Tree Day 2017 site ……………………………. 2021

Our 2017 National Tree Day site was a closed car park blocked off and overgrown with weeds. Cleared of weeds, mulched and replanted the site is starting to regenerate healthy habitat for Koalas and small forest birds. .

National Tree Day 2018 site prep …………………….. 2021

The 2018 National Tree Day site needed special preparation because the large amount of asbestos (fibro) dumped there. The BCC Habitat Brisbane team organised professional asbestos removal contractors to clear the site. We then covered the site in a thick layer of cardboard fridge boxes from Harvey Norman. The cardboard was then covered in mulch and planted so any residual asbestos will be locked in by plant roots.

National Tree Day 2019 planting ……………………… 2021

2019 National Tree Day was restoration of a very degraded area where BCC contractors had cleared a large area of Lantana Lantana camara. Plants were chosen to maintain the view while restoring native habitat. The special site has an amazing view out to the Bay Islands hence the track name: Eastern Outlook Track. A great spot to sit and enjoy the winter morning sun.

Australia China Youth Assoc. 2018 …………………… 2021

The Australian Chinese Youth Association are a diverse group of Griffith University students from China, Japan and Australia, all passionate about working with China. The students were studying a wide range of subjects including medical, business and environment. I have never worked with a group so good at finding wildlife: everything from spiders to bugs fascinated them. The group happily worked on a challenging steep site removing invasive Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia and doing such a good job the fern has not returned while natural regeneration has already bought back native grasses including Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus – butterfly caterpillar food and Poison Peach Trema tomentosa – feeds fruiting eating birds.

Clairvaux Bushcarers 2018

I missed working with our Clairvaux Mackillop College students over the past twelve months. The Clairvaux Bushcarers worked hard clearing weeds to allow natural regeneration to restore the habitat. The students with all their energy are a real pleasure to work alongside. It is always a pleasure to introduce our local wildlife to this fascinated audience. Everything interests them: Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus, St Andrew’s Cross Spider Argiope Keyserlingi or learning that Ladybeetles have a larval stage Variable Ladybird Beetle Coelophora inaequalis: adult beetle and larvae (right). I am already working with the College to set event dates for 2021.

National Tree Day 2020 had to be cancelled however the BCC Natural Areas team stepped up and organised contractors to plant a large area at the Summit.

2021 is already looking good with Clean Up Australia on Sunday March 7th.

Find a full range of volunteer opportunities.

By: Michael Fox

Join CleanUp Australia 2021 – Mt Gravatt Summit

Our annual Clean Up is growing attracting more community groups like our Griffith Mates partners and a total of 76 volunteers in 2020.

Our Clean Up teams have reduced rubbish from 55 bags in 2011 to 10 bags in 2019.

Date: Sunday March 7th 2021

Start time: 7:30am

Meet at: Mt Gravatt Summit carpark – near Love Well Project

Please join our Clean Up teams picking up rubbish or removing removing weeds.

By: Michael Fox

I love Bushcare because I am always finding new species to add to Flora and Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

Finding Tree-running Mantid Ciulfina sp. nymph makes three mantids found in the Reserve.

The Three-eyed Leaf-rolling Cricket Xiphogryllacris orthoxipha is the first cricket we have found.

Meet all our fascinating insects at Insects, beetles, bugs and slugs of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.