Bushcare


By: Michael Fox

Some work spaces come with something special: like this morning as the fog started to lift at the our National Tree Day site.

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Square-tailed Kite – Lophoictinia isura

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Our Tuesday Bushcare team was lucky to be able to watch a pair of Square-tailed Kites Lophoictinia isura building their nest in a nearby eucalypt.

This is the second year nesting at this site. We watched while these awesome birds would fly in with long sticks in their beak which they would then weave into the nest.

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Koala Shelly and joey

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Cold on Tuesday morning so Koala Shelly had her joey wrapped up warm.

As part of our Koala research Pieter Demmers is developing a citizen science project to id and track Koalas in the Reserve and surrounds.

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This morning I watched an Australian Magpie Cracticus tibicen flying in with sticks to weave into their nest.

Mates on Patrol

By: Michael Fox

It is hard to beat spending a beautiful sunny winter morning in the bush with a group of energetic young people.

I joined the Griffith Mates team at Mt Gravatt Campus. Again a diverse group of students studying phycology, IT and environmental science.

Our first stop is one of the Koala Drinkers we are using to assess the value of providing water for wildlife to maintain and strengthen populations of vulnerable Koala Phascolarctos cinereus and other species in isolated urban bushland habitats.

I am really impressed when one of these sharp eyed nature lovers spotted a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus entering a nest hollow in a dead tree. There is a shortage of tree hollows in the Reserve so it was a real pleasure to identify another active nest hollow.

Australia’s smallest flower?

Next stop, the curious Allocasuarinas: the male trees’ russet (red-brown) flowers on tips of leaves glowed in the winter sun and across the track a female tree with its red ball flowers growing directly from the branches. Looking very similar the Native Cherry Exocarpos cupressiformis has the smallest flowers I have ever seen and of course sharp young eyes spotted the tiny flowers and focused on an actual cherry fruit.

Headache Vine – Male flowers

Aside from the Native Cherry we found a surprising number of natives in flower. Like the attractive and versatile Headache Vine Clematis glycinoides scented flowers. Of course the immediate question was “Does it cure headaches or cause headaches?

Indigenous people crushed leaves and inhaled to relieve head pain. Research suggests that protoanemonin in crushed leaves acts on the mucous membranes creating an intense head clearing sensation: eye watering, nose smarting and head blowing. Some suggest that the experience is so intense you will probably forget your headache.

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Wattle species provide valuable in winter food for insects and brighten our day with beautiful flowers. Black Wattle Acacia leiocalyx has an attractive flower and enticing scent. It is fine to sniff our wattle flowers: despite common belief wattles are not a major cause of pollen allergies.

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Exploring the forest did not stop with native animals and plants. Most people don’t realise that we have fairies living in the Reserve.

Our visitors loved the idea that of a special home for local fairies.

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Enough exploring, time for work.

The team sets to with a will clearing Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidensis and Corky Passion Vine
Passiflora suberosa
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Proud Weed Busters

By: Michael Fox

Our 2021 National Tree Day is on:

Date: 1st August

Time: 8am to 12 noon

Register: Yourself or Your Team

Parking is limited at planting site so consider:

270 cu metres of mulch is being spread and 1,200 plants have been ordered so we need your help to transform, what was 1,800 sq metres of weeds, into habitat for Koalas, birds, butterflies and bees.

2018 National Tree Day started the transformation of Fox Gully Bushcare Zone 20

Before: April 2018

Today: June 2021

By: Michael Fox

Eleven Clairvaux MacKillop College students and two teachers joined me last Monday to clear weeds in preparation for our National Tree Day planting.

The first of three innovative events organised by Sandra Stadhams: Campus Minister with the theme Revive The Earth. It is an inspiring initiative founded on the words of Pope Francis:

We can change, and we can make a new start. The whole human family needs to work together to care for our planet earth so that we sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. So, let’s put love for the world and love for our neighbours, into action, by living together in harmony, and caring for nature.

The Revive The Earth program utilises the Shared Path Framework “… to go beyond mere surface-experience in our endeavours to develop students who are compassionately engaged human beings.”

The interrelated movements of the Framework are:

Movement 1: PREPARE
Attention of the Heart/Holding Space
How can we ground experiences in the here and now?

Movement 2: PARTNER
Receptive Presence/Connecting
How do we form authentic reciprocal relationships with the communities we are engaging with?

Movement 3: PERCEIVE
Critical Reflection/Seeing Beyond
How do we train the eye to see beyond the experience? How do we use reflective tools that mirror the pathway of incoming information through the brain?

Movement 4: PRACTICE
Reciprocal Intention/Discernment
How can we ensure that students aren’t developing pre-mature solutions to complex community challenges?

Movement 5: PARTICIPATE
Integration of Purpose/Transformation
How can this be placed to animate, orient and innovate a new way of being human and a new way of relationship which is radically open-hearted and transformational.

Leaning to use a hand saw.

On site the Team dived in with a will to subdue a forest of weeds: Guinea Grass Megathyrsus maximus var. maximus*, Cobblers Peg Bidens pilosa*, Corky Passion Vine Passiflora suberosa*.

The team also helped us trial a new tool to remove Guinea Grass by separating the plant crown from roots with minimal root disturbance. The diverse living organisms critical for soil health can be damaged by if the soil is disturbed, so we are working with the BCC Habitat Brisbane team to develop best practice techniques for habitat restoration.

It is also a pleasure sharing basic skills like using a hand saw safely.

I am looking forward to welcoming the Clairvaux Bushcare team back for my own learning. Observing how the students apply the Shared Path Framework will strengthen my skills with community engagement.

Griffith Mates Team in action

By: Michael Fox

Welcoming our Griffith Mates Bushcare Team back on Saturday was a real pleasure for me.

Young an energetic is obvious. What always blows me away is the diversity of study areas … nano-technology, business, education and of course environmental studies: undergrad and masters levels, and the diversity of family heritage with students from East Timor, Malaysia and PNG.

The Team worked with me clearing weeds: Guinea Grass Megathyrsus maximus var. maximus, Cobblers Pegs Bidens pilosa and Perennial Horse Gram Macrotyloma axillare var. axillare.

Congratulations Team. Great to have you back!

Saturday’s job was site prep for this year’s National Tree Day planting which will restore the missing mid-story habitat so vital for birds, butterflies and bees.

First step in preparing for our yearly planting clearing the site and the Team removed fifteen bags of weeds.

And we have found a couple of new Koala spotters … one was in a tree just above where we were working and another was spotted beside the track up to the Summit.

Thank you to our Griffith Mates partners. Together we are making a difference.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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*.

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Two-tailed Leaf Beetle Aproida balyi

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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.

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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.

By: Michael Fox

Volunteer enquiries: Michael Fox megoutlook@gmail.com

2021 Bushcare Calendar

Square-tailed Kite – Fox Gully Bushcare

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Fox Gully Bushcare

Tuesday mornings 7:30am

Next event: 2 February

Team Leader:

Michael 0408 769 405

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All ages welcome

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Mt Gravatt State High School

Pollinator Link®

Next event: Sunday 14 March

Team Leader:

Laurie – ideacon61@gmail.com

Meet: Cnr. Bentham and Stanhope Streets

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Sheamus supervising planting

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Gertrude Petty Place Bushcare

Next event: Saturday 27 March

Team Leader:

Sheamus – sheamuso3@gmail.com

Meet at Gertrude Petty Place car park.

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Ekibin Creek

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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

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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.

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Branches and mulch used to close tracks

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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.)

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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

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.

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