Bushcare


By: Michael Fox

How many Koalas are there in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve? I am often asked that question.

As part of our 2021 Koala Drinker Research Project and work by Peter Demmers we know there are at least thirteen individual Koalas in the Reserve. We now have a couple with excellent Koala spotting skills they share with other visitors by marking sightings with an arrow on the track.

If you see an arrow on the track, pause look around and say hi to our special locals.

Soaking up the winter sun

By: Michael Fox

What do you do on a cold mountain morning? Warm up in the sun!

A handsome Square-tailed Kite Lophoictinia isura was perched in a sunny spot this morning soaking up the winter sun.

It is always special to when we see special wildlife at our Fox Gully Bushcare site.

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Look out for the amazing new sculpture at the Shire Road entry to the Reserve. Featuring our local native flora and fauna the totem pole shows off the special residents who call the Reserve home.

This morning artist Jamie Maclean was putting finishing touches adding colour to our special addition welcoming visitors.

Thanks to Councillor Krista Adams who commissioned the sculpture through the Lord Mayors Suburban Enhancement Fund.

By: Michael Fox

Unidentified Leaf Beetle

The Clairvaux McKillop Bushcare Team returned again yesterday clearing another huge area of weeds and having fun finding beetles, spiders and millipedes.

Underside of Leaf Beetle with legs tucked away.

One interesting find is a Leaf Beetle we have not found before in the Reserve. I have been getting frustrated trying to identify the species. However, now I know there are over 3,000 species I feel a bit better. “Beetles in the family Chrysomelidae are commonly known as leaf beetles. In Australia there are over 3,000 species of leaf beetles feeding on living roots, leaves, stems, flowers, pollen, fruits and seeds. Some larvae feed inside living plants.” Queensland Museum I have submitted our observations to iNaturalist and hope to get a species id so it can be added to Flora and Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

Millipede

It is common for these beetles to drop to the ground when disturbed probably a defence mechanism. These cute beetles tuck their legs in very neatly effectively creating a flat surface that will just slide off the leaf.

The team also found a Millipede which have an important role in recycling the leaf litter on the forest floor releasing valuable nutrients for the flora.

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Pyramidal Theridion

Our first spider find was Pyramidal Theridion Theridion pyramidale: resembling a pyramid in shape and Theridion is a genus of tangle-web spiders with almost 600 described species around the world.

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I was impressed that team members identified Golden Orb-Weaver Nephila edulis without my input. They also talked about the way the web glows gold in the sun. The Atlas maps shows these spiders are found all over Australia.

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Red Narrow-necked Leaf Beetles Lilioceris bakewelli feed on Barbed Wire Vine Smilax australis.

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Black-headed Orange Wasp – Gavrana spinosa

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Black-headed Orange Wasp Gavrana spinosa is a new species for Flora and Fauna. Ichneumon wasps are not dangerous for humans but they perform valuable pest control services in our gardens by parasiting moth larvae.

Students dive into the weed attack

By: Michael Fox

A beautiful morning to welcome our friends from Clairvaux MacKillop College and bonus our best Koala spotters had left a large arrow on the track pointing to a cute ball of fluff curled up against the cold. A special treat for our visitors, many of whom had never seen a Koala in the bush.

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Birds Nest Fungi

It is always a pleasure to welcome the students to work with me in the bush … aside from a mile of weeds removed they always find interesting flora and fauna.

Special finds included tiny Birds Nest Fungi Cyathus novaezelandiae. These fungi have cups holding egg-like peridioles: with a hard outer casing which holding a mass of spores. The peridioles are splashed out by rain drops.

Garden Fungi underside

Another special find was Scarlet Bracket Pycnoporus coccineus dressed out in fluorescent bright orange. Bracket or wood decay fungi are typically found on dead trees or branches. Mycelium from the fungi grow through the dead timber releasing enzymes that break down and recycle plant material.

The Scarlet Bracket fungi is common in bushlands and gardens. Note of the pores on the underside.

Derick the Grey Butcherbird
Burton’s Legless Lizard

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We were closely watched by a handsome Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus the team named Derick. Our Butcherbirds and Kookaburras love to join us at Bushcare so they can snap up insects for breakfast.

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A Burton’s Legless Lizard Lialis burtonis was found hidden in the leaf litter and put on a performance twisting in knots.

I have reported our observations to iNaturalist for verification. You can check local observations: go to iNaturalist enter Mt Gravatt in Location.

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Great job Team … thank you.

By: Michael Fox

Michelle, Phil and Benno

Our Tuesday Bushcare team relocated this week to help Pieter Demmers with his restoration of Coucal Corner on one of the Mountain gullies feeding into Ekibin Creek.

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Coucal Corner is named after the beautiful Pheasant Coucals Centropus phasianinus that live in the gullies. Listen for the characteristic ‘oop-oop-oop-opp’ call. Our Coucals feed on the ground on large insects, frogs, lizards, eggs and young of birds so they need a scrubby habitat that attracts their food. Norman Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (N4C) contributed two hundred and fifty local grasses, vines, shrubs and trees for the restoration.

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One of the locals, a Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides, was supervising our work.

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We also found a Union-Jack Wolf Spider Tasmanicosa godeffroyi … ideal food for a foraging Coucal.

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By: Michael Fox

Join Clean Up Australia 2022 – Mount Gravatt Mountain

Summer has been a great season for flora and fauna with ten new species identified just in January. However, the season has also been a boon for weeds so we need your help to Clean Up our Koala habitat of weeds as well as rubbish.

Date: Sunday March 6th 2022

Start time: 7:30am

Meet at: Mt Gravatt Summit carpark – near Lovewell Café

By: Michael Fox

Vampire Moth Calyptra minuticornis

I had never heard of Vampire Moths before I found this cute caterpillar feeding on Tape Vine Stephania japonica. The Vampire Moth Calyptra minuticornis pierce fruit to suck the juice, and this species along with other moths in the genus Calyptra are known as the Vampire moths because they have been observed to pierce the skin of animals such as buffalo, zebu and tapir to suck blood.

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The rainy weather has kicked 2022 off to amazing start with ten new species added to Flora and Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. My daughter Anthea found this truly bizarre Wattle Bizarre Looper Eucyclodes pieroides feeding on fruit of the Pink Euodia Melicope ruba.

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This attractive Acacia Golden Green Leaf Beetle Calomela juncta fell off a Brisbane Wattle Acacia fimbriata when I tried to photograph. It is very positive to find new insect species in the Reserve because the more insects the more insect eating birds like the Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus.

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A new species of Ladybeetle found in the Reserve Yellow Shouldered Ladybird Apolinus lividigaster found in the Reserve ready to protect our gardens from aphids.

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A Yellow Migrant Catopsilia gorgophone is a particularly special find which brings our count of butterfly species in the Reserve to fifty one.

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I was excited when I found a new snail. However, unfortunately, the Asian Tramp Snail Bradybaena similaris is not a native but rather a serious pest in nurseries, market gardens and vineyards.

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A miss-named Wingless Grasshopper Phaulacridium vittatum. The adult grasshopper has full sized wings so this, with its very small wings, is most probably a nymph.

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Not the most attractive of our insects, the Wattle Pig Weevil Leptopius sp. is still part of the wildlife diversity in the Reserve. These Weevils feed on Acacia species.

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The rain also bought out several plants of Native Yam Dioscorea transversa. Another exciting discovery which brings the number of native plants found in the Reserve to 285 species or 20% of all native plant species in the whole of the United Kingdom.

Want learn more about the species in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve visit our Flora and Fauna research files.

By: Michael Fox

Artist: Chrys O’Hare
Phil checking installation of water trough.

When leaf moisture is not high enough, this can lead to dehydration and large-scale mortality events as koalas are forced to search the ground for alternative water sources, exposing them to additional threats such as cars and dogs. Conditions in which koalas will need to search for water are only expected to increase in frequency due to climate change. (Watkins, A, Schlagloth, R. and Santamaria, F. (2021) Qld Naturalist 59 (1-3))

Koalas and other wildlife living in urban Island Habitats like Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve are particularly vulnerable as access to water requires crossing busy roads and facing dogs in backyards.

The Tree Troff Koala drinkers have been developed by a Gunnedah farmer working with researchers from University of Sydney and WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.)

First version of Koala drinker

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Last year I spent an interesting morning with farmer Robert Frend of Wildsip who showed me the evolution of the Tree Troff starting with the very first drinker that was simply strapped to the tree.

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Early evolution of Koala drinker

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Supported by research with wildlife cameras observing Koala behaviour the drinker evolved through many versions trialling solar powered pumps and different platforms to finally arrive at an innovative designed, engineer certified and professionally built water for wildlife solution.

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Alan driving stakes to hold the Tree Troff in place.

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Our 2020 Koala Drinker Research Project demonstrated the value of providing water for wildlife, for example, six thousand visits by birds in six months. WIRES generous gift of two Tree Troffs and support from Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C) providing refill services means we are able to create a long term water for wildlife solution for our Reserve.

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The first Tree Troff is installed in the Fox Gully Bushcare site at the junction of the Geebung and Federation Tracks. Bushcare team members Phil Girle and Alan Moore worked with me to assemble and erect the Tree Troff.

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Seton Ball Valve Lockout Devices

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The Tree Troff tank will be filled from ground level with high pressure pump which also allows the water trough to be flushed to clear leaves and mozzie larvae. Installation in a public space has required some modifications to reduce temptation to tamper. Seton Ball Valve Lockout Devices provide a simple way to lock the taps.

Cameras will be installed to monitor wildlife use to provide further evidence to support deployment of water for wildlife solutions in Brisbane parks and Bushcare sites.

By: Michael Fox

Heather Wood bought tasty homemade muffins today to celebrate our last Tuesday Bushcare for the year.

We worked on Zone 6 today removing Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses*.

I also showed the team some of the local natives currently flowering. My favourate is definitely Dogwood.

Geitonoplesium cymosum Scrambling Lily

Acacia Leaf Beetle Dicranosterna immaculata

By: Michael Fox

Most people I talk to want less Crows and more Fairy-wrens in their gardens and schoolyards.

A key factor in bringing these beautiful birds back to our urban habitat increasing the number and diversity of insects. So it is very encouraging to find increasing number of different species in areas restored with our National Tree Day events.

In the last week we added four new insect and spider species to our research: Flora and Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

The first addition was found by Griffith Environment Student and Fox Gully Bushcare volunteer: Fumihiko Suzuki. Mi Fu discovered a handsome Acacia Leaf Beetle Dicranosterna immaculata feeding on a Brisbane Wattle Acacia fimbriata.

Hairy Crab Spider Sidymella hirsuta

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The Queensland Pathways State College team joined us for Bushcare clearing Guinea Grass Megathyrsus maximus var. maximus and exploring local wildlife.

The team discovered three species for our research, starting with a very cute Hairy Crab Spider Sidymella hirsuta.

Oval Woodland Cockroach Platyzosteria kellyi

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Cockroaches are not normally a popular insect. However, worldwide 99% of cockroaches live in bushland and do not invade our homes. Our Australian bush cockroaches perform valuable services recycling leaf litter using gut enzymes that break down tough plant cellulose.

So discovering Oval Woodland Cockroach Platyzosteria kellyi working hard improving our bushland habitat is very exciting.

Yellow Soldier Beetle Chauliognathus flavipennis

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The Yellow Soldier Beetle Chauliognathus flavipennis is another interesting find which is typically found in south-east Queensland.

Atlas of Living Australia – species sightings

Share your sighting using iNaturalist app. Your sightings will be mapped in Atlas of Living Australia.

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