Bushcare


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.

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.

By: Michael Fox

Caper White – Belenois java

I am very lucky to live beside Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve so butterflies and birds are common in my garden. However, at the moment gardens all over Brisbane are welcoming butterflies in large numbers. “Why are there so many butterflies in Brisbane?”  Jessica HinchliffeABC Radio Brisbane

Splendid Ochre Trapezites symmomus

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The Caper Whites Belenois java kept moving not wanting to be photographed but I did get a couple of photos. But I did find a Splendid Ochre Trapezites symmomus which posed perfectly for a photo. Note the characteristic antenna clubs which help identify species.

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Cycad Blue Theclinesthes onycha laying eggs

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The Cycad Blue Theclinesthes onycha are back for their annual visit. People often worry about the damage to the leaves on their Cycads. However, even being attacked by caterpillars of these cute butterflies every year my Cycad is still thriving.

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Australian Wood Duck Chenonetta jubata

I have also had some special birds visiting.

A pair of Australian Wood Duck Chenonetta jubata have been visiting hoping to set up home. However, the Pied Butcherbirds Cracticus nigrogularis and Noisy Miners Manorina melanocephala have been chasing these special visitors away.

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Pale-heaed Rosellas Platycercus adscitus

A pair of Pale-heaed Rosellas Platycercus adscitus are also regular visitors. Today they were have a drink at one of the Koala Drinkers.

Invite birds, butterflies and bees to your garden by providing Water, Food and Shelter.

By: Michael Fox

Fox Gully Bushcare

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More than 50mm of rain this week has created an opportunity to move to Zone 6 and remove Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata before the flowers set seeds. Ochna has a deep tap root which is very hard to remove unless the ground is soft.

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Rani with TreePopper and Chinese Elm

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I introduced our newest volunteer Rani Lustosa, of Two Dogs Landscaping, to the TreePopper, an ideal tool for attacking woody weeds like Ochna. The TreePopper design means that the weeds are pulled from the ground vertically minimising the risk of breaking off. At the same time there is minimal disturbance of the soil, the wildlife and fungi living in the soil.

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Regina tackling Fishbone Fern

While Rani was having fun with the TreePopper, Regina, Liz and I were clearing Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus and Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia.

By: Michael Fox

Yesterday Laurie Deacon, my Co-president and I were honoured to welcome our state Environment Minster Hon. Leeanne Enoch to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. Minister Enoch was accompanied by our local MPs Corinne McMillan and Joe Kelly. We were also joined by Wayne Cameron, Bulimba Creek Catchment Co-ordinating Committee (B4C), Rob Janson and Greg Neill representing N4C and Coorparoo Finger Gullies Bushcare, and Greg Wellard, Mackenzie Bushcare.

Butterfly Hill-topping Site
Koala inspecting visitors

First stop on our tour is the butterfly speed dating site: look for the butterfly sign near the Summit Track entry. Some butterfly species practice “hilltopping behaviour” where males gather on in locations like the amphitheatre like space with the protection of trees along the edge for safety, all with the objective of attracting a female.

Our visitors were particularly interested in the Koala Phascolarctos cinereus population in the Reserve. One of our Koala Drinker team, Jake Slinger, spotted a Koala watching from the trees right where we were standing.

(l-r) Greg Wellard, Rob Janson, Greg Neill, Leeanne Enoch, Wayne Cameron, Corinne McMillan, Joe Kelly, Greg Neill, Laurie Deacon, Michael Fox

Our visitors were very impressed with restoration at the 2017 National Tree Day planting site.

I particularly complemented our political representatives on the impact of the Containers for Change initiative which has caused a very positive problem. When I look back at past CleanUp’s for comparison:

The reduction in rubbish meant our 2020 CleanUp not only had our largest team of volunteers but also our largest Weeding Team. A very positive problem!

By: Michael Fox

Making a new home for the family.

Sitting in the sun having breakfast I look up to see two Laughing Kookaburras preparing a new home in a termite nest high in a tree. We currently have twenty one nest boxes within Fox Gully Bushcare already providing breeding habitat for Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis, Rainbow Lorrikets Trichoglossus haematodus, Pale-headed Rosellas Platycercus eximius and Brushtail Possums Trichosurus vulpecula.

Kookaburra chicks in Boobook Owl box

The artificial nest boxes are intended to support wildlife while natural nest hollows develop in the forest. Our Kookaburras have been using an owl nest box for breeding, so it is exciting to see the termite nest is now large enough for our Kookas to create make their own home.

Male Variegated Fairy Wren

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Look for a family of Variegated Fairy Wrens Malurus lamberti playing in the scrubby habitat alongside Acacia Way. Small forest birds like the safety of tangled habitat like this where they can nest and escape from Kookaburras and other large predator birds like Pied Currawongs Strepera graculina and Kookaburras.

You can provide habitat for these special birds in your backyard by building a Habitat Tripod.

Headache Vine

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Perhaps you can grow the beautiful Headache Vine Clematis glycinoides that is currently flowering along Acacia Way.

“It is a useful climber that could be used to cover the framework of a fernery. The growth is very dense and provides safe nesting sites for small native birds.” Australian Plants Society NSW

A useful vine, as it is happy growing in shaded areas and the crushed leaves help manage headaches.

Lipotriches sp. – Solitary Bee on Dianella flower

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We also found a different solitary native bee species visiting flowers of Blueberry Lily Dianella longifolia. Lipotriches sp. do not form colonies, the individual females make nests in the ground. Native plant species like Dianella require Buzz Polination (sonicating) which shakes the pollen out of the flowers.

Native Indigo flower

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Native Indigo Indigofera australis is also starting to flower along Acacia Way. Native Indigo is caterpillar food plant for Long-tailed Pea-blue Lampides boeticus and Common Grass-blue Zizina labradus butterflies.

Native Indigo can also be used for natural dying of cloth.

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