Bushcare


ERM Team

By: Michael Fox

A beautiful cool sunny morning. What a day to welcome the ERM Team to Mt Gravatt and Fox Gully Bushcare for a morning of waging war on weeds and exploring our forest habitat.

How many people get to work in such an amazing place?

ERM is a multinational sustainability consultancy with over 7,000 team members in 40 offices around the world.

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On the track to the worksite we stop to look for Koalas. A local couple walk the mountain each morning on the lookout for Koalas and scratching arrows on tracks so visitors can meet our local wildlife.

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On site safety briefing

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The ERM Team are an interesting group of experienced professionals: included environmental scientists, water engineers and even archaeologists. However, our work site is quite steep and slippery so safety is key.

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Sam Treepopper fan

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The Treepopper was a hit with the group working on removal of Ochna (Mickey Mouse Plant). The Treepopper pulls the weed vertically removing with minimal disturbance of the soil microbes and fungi. This is important to maintaining soil health.

The first step removing Ochna is to remove and bag seeds for disposal. The removed plants were placed in a pile to compost: retaining scarce resources on-site while slowing water flow on the steep slope.

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Bushcare teamwork

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All hands on the job to clear a large Easter Cassia Senna pendula var. glabrata. The bright yellow flowers of Easter Cassia is easy to spot at Easter however at other times the gold rim of the leaves is reliable for identification.

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Chinese Elm Team in action.

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The Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis team worked hard cutting down and poisoning large trees. Logs were placed across the slope to reduce erosion.

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Three-eyed Leaf-rolling Cricket

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Sharp eyes spotted a Three-eyed Leaf-rolling Cricket Xiphogryllacris orthoxipha. The name comes from the very large median ocellus which is as large as its compound eyes.

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A fearsome looking Net-casting Spider Deinopis sp. was found among the leaf litter.

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Blue Eyes Lacewing

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Returning to the Summit via the Eastern Outlook Track the team inspected our restoration work at our National Tree Day planting sites.

I explained the BCC Habitat Brisbane team provided the plants based on our research of species found in the forest: Flora and Fauna. Planting local species produces excellent results, even in the thin rocky soil, with some shrubs going from tube stock to 2.5 metres in eighteen months.

The local natives also attract more insects like the Blue Eyes Lacewing Nymphes myrmeleonides.

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Spotted Paropsine Beetle

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A diversity of insects like the Spotted Paropsine Beetle Paropsis maculata are important to help with pollination and providing food for insect eating birds.

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We discussed the lush growth of Scurvy Weed Commelina cyanea which creates a thick cover of Living Mulch keeping the soil cool and retaining moisture. The leaves of Scurvy Weed are edible with high vitamin C content. Managing Commelina species in bushland can be a challenge with white flowering weed Wandering Jew Tradescantia fluminensis often confused with Scurvy Weed: roots can be used to identify the weed.

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A quick stop to introduce the team to the Tree Troff Koala Drinker used to provide water for wildlife within the dry mountain reserve.

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A very pleasant morning in the bush with interesting people finished with an excellent brunch at Lovewell Cafe thanks to the ERM Team. I introduced our Pollinator Link project and encouraged everyone to take advantage of free registration of their wildlife garden.

By: Michael Fox

The team from B4C came today to refill our Tree Troff Koala drinkers so it was very exciting to find a Koala Mum and Joey in sitting on a branch above the drinker on Acacia Way.

There was also a Koala in the Queensland Blue Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis above the other Tree Troff at the junction of Federation and Geebung Tracks.

Koalas in Tallowwood Eucalyptus microcorys on Acacia Way
Preparing the installation.

By: Michael Fox

The Mt Gravatt Environment Group team installed a second Koala Tree Troff in the forest this morning.

Artwork by Chrys O’Hare

Laurie, Alan, myself management the installation with the valuable help of David Fechner, Koala researcher from Griffith University, who we recruited on-site.

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The Tree Troff is installed beside a Tallowood Eucalyptus microcorys a favourate Koala food tree. Note the scratching of the bark.

This innovative design by Robert Frend of Wildsip, and manufactured by local Gunnedah business and donated by WIRES NSW.

The Tree Troff simply balances against the tree with the weight of 220 litres of water transferred directly to the ground.

Koala Drinker Research Project

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While we were on-site I showed our team the Bottle Brush Grass Tree Xanthorrhoea macronema. This has been the best flowering I have ever seen in sixteen years with more plants spreading near the Eastern Outlook Track.

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Sago Flower

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We also checked the July National Tree Day planting where Ozothamnus diosmifolius Sago Flower is already in flower.

Sago Flower is an attractive garden plant with leaves that can be used in cooking as a substitute rosemary.

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Laurie and I also found the pretty Pandorea jasminoides Bower Vine at the site.

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Thanks to Alan Moore for the photos.

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Pandorea jasminoides Bower Vine

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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.

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