Flora


Southern Boobook Owl Ninox novaeseelandiae - 27 May 2016 - T Ashworth

Southern Boobook Owl Ninox novaeseelandiae

By: Michael Fox

The Mt Gravatt Walking Group spotted this handsome Southern Boobook Owl Ninox novaeseelandiae along the Summit Track on Friday morning. Photo: Tony Ashworth

While I hear the Bookbook’s “boo-book” call regularly this is the first sighting reported so I was very excited when Tony and the group joined us at the small bird habitat planting.

I have updated the Birds files in our Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve lists with Tony’s photos.

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Tree Water Spider - Dendrolycosa icadia - 18 Apr 2016

Tree Water Spider Dendrolycosa icadia

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The Tree Water Spider Dendrolycosa icadia with its curious funnel shaped web is a new addition to Spiders in Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

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Tree Water Spider - Dendrolycosa icadia - web side - 18 Apr 2016

Tree Water Spider web

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Mock-olive - Notelaea longifolia - Tree - 23 May 2016

Long-leaved Mock-olive Notelaea longifolia

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Long-leaved Mock-olive Notelaea longifolia is an addition to our Tree-Shrub species found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

 

Tunks Park East Bushcare

Tunks Park East Bushcare

By: Michael Fox

Visiting my daughter in Sydney is a great opportunity to check out the local bushcare sites like Flat Rock Gully  on the boundaries of North Sydney and Willoughby City Councils. Flat Rock Creek is piped under Tunks Park creating a popular community space with children’s playground,  cricket pitches, football fields and great space for dogs to play with their owners.

Difficult bushcare

How do I reach that Asparagus Fern?

Weeds

Asparagus Fern and Mother of Millions on rock face

Tunks Park East & West and Mortlock Reserve Bushcare groups (North Sydney Council) are active restoring the along the southern side of Flat Rock Creek while The Drive (Flat Rock Gully) Bushcare group (Willoughby City) is working on the northern side.

The rock formations common in Sydney make very attractive landscape but challenging sites for bushcare.

Tunks Park East group leader Steve Miles who told me that a large  Privet grove had been the priority initially.

Nature is resilient

Nature is resilient

Steve explained that one of the key issues was that the site, like so many in Sydney, is narrow with housing right along the edge which means dealing constant reinfection with garden escapees.

However, Steve is still optimistic “Nature is resilient and just needs a chance.” Like this native fig finding any crack or fissure for its roots to get a hold. Steve explained that Flat Rock Gully is a diversity hot spot and wildlife is returning as restoration progresses. Aside from a Brush Turkey mound the team regularly sights green tree snakes, king parrots, scaly-breasted lorikeets and bandicoots are returning. The return of bandicoots is excellent news however it does highlight the need for gully neighbours and visitors to control their pets. Dogs on leash in bushland and cats kept inside at night.

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Cammeray Bridge

Bandicoots, like many of the small to medium-sized marsupials of Australia, have undergone several species extinctions and significant contractions in distribution since European settlement because of land clearing and the introduction of predators (foxes, dogs and cats) 

Other exciting news from 2014 is the new native plant nursery at The Coal Loader Sustainability Centre and a couple of sea lions sunning themselves on the shore-front rocks.

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The spectacular Cammeray Bridge with its castellated towers forms the boundary of Steve’s Tunks Park East site.

Following the tracks up Flat Rock Gully markers tell some of the European history, for example, the original Northbridge Suspension Bridge was a toll bridge built in 1889 and replaced in 1939 with the Cammeray Bridge, retaining the towers.

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Log boundary

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The bushcare teams have been active on both sides of Tunks Park with logs allowing weeds to be composted onsite.

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Creek crossing

Crossing Flat Rock Creek

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The track along Flat Rock Creek is cool and peaceful, very popular with walkers and runners. Unfortunately most dog walkers I passed ignored the many signs saying dogs must be on a leash in the bushland area. This is particularly disappointing considering the huge area of parkland just a short distance down the track where dogs are free to run and chase balls.

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angophora costata

Smooth-barked Apple Angophora costata

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Many of the native plant species are ones we find in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve, like Sweet Sarsaparilla Smilax glyciphylla, Tree Ferns Cyathea cooperi and Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus. There were also quite a number of species I didn’t recognise spectacular like Smooth-barked Apple Angophora costata all orange as they shed their bark.

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On-site weed recycling

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I always get new ideas when visiting other bushcare sites. One interesting idea is the separation of woody weeds from grass and soft weeds which can be covered with black plastic to compost quickly. Simple but effective. We already use black plastic but putting the woody weeds into a different pile will create good habitat for lizards while allowing the softer weeds to compost faster.

I look forward to exploring further up Flat Rock Gully on my next visit to Sydney.

Xanthorrhoea macronema - 22 Nov 2014

Bottle Brush Grass Tree

By: Michael Fox

After the long dry period it is a pleasure to see the bush come back to life. Walking the Eastern Outlook Track this morning we found a number of the uncommon Bottle Brush Grass Trees Xanthorrhoea macronema in flower or getting ready to flower.

Xanthorrhoea macronema - 9 Oct 2014 - Alan Moore low res

New flower ready to burst into life

The Bottle Brush Grass Tree is very different to the better known Grass Tree Xanthorrhoea johnsonii. The johnsonii has tall flower spike (scape) reaching up to 1.9 metres with flowers covering most of its length and over time the tree develops the characteristic fire blackened trunk. The Bottle Brush Grass Tree on the other hand has a scape reaching only 1.6 metres with a striking cream-white bottle brush shaped flower that is only about 13cm at the top of the scape and it remains just a crown of leaves at ground level never developing the characteristic fire blackened trunk of other species.

The furry bottle brush flowers are very popular with native bees both the small black Stingless Native Bees Trigona carbonaria and the solitary Blue Banded Bees Amegilla cingulata.

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If you are walking keep an eye out for the new flower spikes … they will be ready in a couple of days.

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Drynaria rigidula - 22 Nov 2014

New life in Basket Fern

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The Basket Ferns Drynaria rigidula are all sending forth new leaves after dying off in the long dry.

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Coracina novaehollandiae - 22 Nov 2014

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

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A little further along the track you may be lucky to see or hear the Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike Coracina novaehollandiae we met on our walk. Listen to the call on Birds in Backyards site.

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Todiramphus sanctus - 19 Nov 2014

Forest Kingfisher

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Or you might see the handsome Forest Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus.

Please let us know if you have any sightings and photos to share – megoutlook@gmail.com

 

 

Exocarpos cupressiformis - 22 Nov 2014By: Michael Fox

Identification of Native Cherry Exocarpos cupressiformis brings to two hundred and seventy-four plant species identified within Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

 Mt Gravatt Then and Now, Mt Gravatt Historical Society, records that in July 1883 our local Mt Gravatt community convinced the state government to protect the Reserve which had previously been logged as railway timber reserve.

In 2014 it is our turn to protect this unique high diversity habitat. The 274 native plant species our 66 hectare Reserve is equal to 11% of of all species in Great Britain which is 22.6 million hectares.

Protecting and restoring this habitat is a whole of community effort with Griffith Mates joining our Bushcare teams, Mt Gravatt Kindy protecting their part of the habitat and installing nest boxes  so the next generation learns, Mt Gravatt State High School and Fox Gully neighbours supporting efforts to build Pollinator Link wildlife corridors linking the Reserve to other habitats.

Koalas breeding successfully is one measure of our progress.

Geocaching family - Southern Star - Sept 2014

Southern Star – 24 September 2014

By: Michael Fox

Marshal Kloske and I met the Wood family at Mt Gravatt Summit the morning they were there to meet the Southern Star photographer and we were there to photograph butterfly mating displays as part of our research for the new interpretative track signs.

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Noisy Miner chicks calling for food

Marshal showed the family the large new sign with maps and information about local history and environment. Like most people the family were surprised to learn about the local “glow-in-the-dark” mushrooms and they were very interesting our research and restoration work.

Nest watching

Nest watching team in action

Heather, Eloise and Lincoln then joined Liz, Marshal and I on Wednesday afternoon for our regular Fox Gully Bushcare. Knowing we would be joined by young children, I planned a special afternoon of activities including checking the nest-boxes and making a portable plant nursery to propagate native seedlings for re-vegetation work. When the family arrived we found out that Marshal and I are now officially called “the Bush Men” … definitely an honour.

First stop was to check on the Noisy Miner family nesting in the Lillypilly hedge. A mobile scaffold makes an ideal place to look down into the nest. Checking the nest boxes we found two Squirrel Gliders at home in one nest box and three possibly four Gliders in another box.

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Kids and sand – always a success

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Watering in with Seasol

The next job is potting up Creeping Beard or Rainforest Grass Oplismenus aemulus and Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variable. Rainforest Grass is ideal for creating Living Mulch that keeps the weeds down, controls erosion, feeds butterflies and creates a natural fire break with its low fuel load. Love Flower spreads rapidly in the garden and is considered of nuisance by some gardeners. However, this pretty little native herb is host plant for the caterpillars of a number of butterflies including Australian Leafwing Doleschallia bisaltide and Varied Eggfly Hypolimnas bolina. Also Bearded Dragons Pogona barbata like to eat the flowers.

First Eloise and Lincoln helped build a self-watering seedling nursery … sand and water … a recipe forfun.

The idea for this neat seedling nursery came from a Gardening Australia segment on building a simple hothouse. It was a productive and fun afternoon. I will provide an update on the success of the seedling nursery which may become a valuable project for Pollinator Link gardeners.

Pandorea pandorana - close - 24 Sept 2014

Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana

By: Michael Fox

Every now and then I come across something really special when doing my bush restoration work. This morning it was coming across this Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana covered in hundreds of flowers.

I have been working in the area around this vine for months creating a barrier to stop the spread of Guinea Grass Panicum maximum and remove carpet of huge Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus. I was in the area only a few days ago and didn’t see any flowers then when I arrived this morning the vine was covered in flowers.

Pandorea pandorana - tree - 24 Sept 2014

Wonga Wonga Vine covering an old stag

I have seen Wonga Wonga Vine in Toohey Forest around the Nathan Campus but never in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. This exciting find means we have not identified two hundred and seventy-two different native plant species found in this special island of bushland surrounded by the suburban matrix of houses and roads. That means in 66 hectares we have 11% of the total native plant diversity in the whole of the 22 million hectares of Great Britain.

Wonga Wonga Vine is a vigorous twining plant with this patch almost covering a huge old stag (dead tree) creating great habitat for the small forest birds to hide and nest.

Being right in the middle of the area I have been clearing of weeds, this vine will have a great opportunity to spread as part of the natural regeneration that is all ready occurring with Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variable,  Pink Tongues Rostellularia adscendens and Scrambling Lilly Geitonoplesium cymosum returning.

Oxalis chnoodes 4 - 3 July 2014 - Alan Moore

Hairy Oxalis Oxalis chnoodes – photo: Alan Moore

By: Michael Fox

I am currently checking and uploading our research Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. Keep checking for updates.

Botanist, Ann Moran, has generously checked our first couple of files and we gained another native species bringing our count to 270 native plant species in the Reserve.

Oxalis chnoodes 1 - 3 July 2014 - Alan Moore

Hairy Oxalis Oxalis chnoodes – photo: Alan Moore

I had photographed and identified what I thought was Creeping Oxalis Oxalis corniculata, a weed. Ann took one look at my photos and said that is the native herb, Hairy Oxalis Oxalis chnoodes.

Hairy Oxalis? When I had a close look I found the leaves of our local plant are very hairy. To be able to show this curious plant to community members we needed some real close-up pics … time to call in Alan Moore our local photography guru.

 

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