MEG Activities

Small bird planting - sign - 13 July 2015

Planning a habitat haven

By: Michael Fox

Brisbane winters are just stunning … as long as you are in the sun and out of the westerly wind.

I spent time this morning laying out the site for our National Tree Day planting. Two sets of concentric circles will create both the protection for nesting and the food – insects, nectar and seeds, required by our small forest birds.

Our two habitat havens will each be 8 metres in diameter and based on the Habitat Network model – Creating a small bird habitat haven.

The Inner Sanctum planted with Coastal Banksia Banksia integrifolia, Prickly Pine Bursaria spinosa and Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana to provide height and tangled habit that larger birds cannot get into making it safe for building nests.

How to plant tubestock

Planting guide for participants

The Protective Circle will be a thick planting of spiky plants like Creek Mat-rush Lomandra hystrix  and Saw Sedge Gahnia aspera. This habit will be attractive for lizards and butterflies while restricting access from feral cats and foxes.

The Shrub Circle will include a range of native herbs and vines with different flowering times and different colours to attract a range of insects. Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variable is a small herb with delicate flowers that Eastern Bearded Dragons Physignathus lesueurii like to eat and provides caterpillar food for a number of different butterflies.

The Eating Out planting of native grasses will provide year round food for seed eating birds like the Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis which will duck out of the safety of the Protective Circle to feed.

Thirty-three participants are registered for the National Tree Day planting so we may have a many as fifty at the event. To help us manage the work I have sourced an excellent “How to plant tubestock” guide from SOWN.

I am proud to represent our community as President of Mt Gravatt Environment Group and sharing the latest news with this blog. However I have been struggling with how to report on commitments of our local candidates in next Saturday’s election.

The latest news reported on the B4C website gave me the direction I needed:

“MEG is proving a major force for the environment and its work for Mt Gravatt Outlook Nature Reserve should be  recognised and supported.

The support must now come from the  community and this will hopefully lead our elected representatives into actions to protect the mountain and support its volunteer initiatives.”

Representing Mt Gravatt Environment Group I have received strong commitments from both Phil Reeves (ALP) and Ian Walker (LNP).

To help community members make their own decisions I have attached the key information provided by our candidates.



LNP PolicyFactsheet_EveryEnviro_2pgFINAL

Mt Gravatt Summit

Twenty five volunteers, including a team from Queensland Institute of Business Technology (QIBT) and Cr Krista Adams, joined co-ordinator Kersite Olsson at Mt Gravatt Summit for Clean Up Australia last Sunday.

The team filled 11 recycle bags and 10 general waste bags, as well as, collecting a tyre, chair, metal, etc.


Mt Gravatt Girl Guides – Showground

Nine volunteers joined co-ordinator Lizi Drysdale at the Guide Hut to Clean Up Mt Gravatt Showgrounds.

We are partnering with the Girl Guides this year to launch the first Pollinator Link between Mt Gravatt Reserve and Bulimba Creek with a pollinator garden around the Guide Hut.


Roly Chapman Reserve

Brett Simpson led another team for Clean Up Australia in Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve.

It is inspiring to be able to join with other community groups to Clean Up our community.

What is the Koala’s favourite food tree?

How do I photograph the feeling of being in the bush?

These were some of the questions answered for participants at our first Environmental and Photography Workshops held at the Fox Gully Bushcare site. The workshops were made possible by a 2010 BCC Environmental Grant.

Visit Mt Gravatt Library during October to see our display or view online The Mountain Through Other Eyes The Mountain Through Other Eyes

Field Botanist, Ann Moran, has thirty years practical experience in biodiversity assessment, weed management and revegetation planning. Ann also has a passion for working with people: indigenous communities, teaching at university or simply sharing her knowledge on guided walks.   I first met Ann in 2007 when she was doing an environmental survey on the mountain. Since then Ann has generously shared her expertise by identifying plant species I have photographed. Ann’s commitment to community groups has allowed me to quickly nail invasive weeds like Whiskey Grass, while adding one hundred native plant species not previously identified in Mt Gravatt Reserve. Ann is currently helping us edit the first published version of Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Reserve.

Ann’s presentation built up our understanding of the complexity of our local habitat starting with the basics: understanding the importance of wildlife corridors for movement,  the major threats to biodiversity (like the clearing of native vegetation and invasion by alien species through garden waste dumping), changed fire management practices and global warming. All this information was related to our local flora and fauna species with powerful insights into the relationships between the plants and their dependent animals.It was a real pleasure to watch Ann’s information being soaked up by participants who took lots of notes and asked questions as Ann led a short walk around our restored areas.

As Ann was depending crutches that day, I led the group on a tour of the less accessible restoration areas explaining the effectiveness of natural re-generation. Nature is now repairing the area where Fishbone Fern has been removed in Zone 13. In less than twelve months native grasses have already covered cleared areas and is now suppressing weed growth, all with no action other than weed removal. Ann calls this Green Mulching: using native grasses to control erosion, retain moisture and suppress weeds. We also inspected the native grass lawn established at the rear of Heather and Alan’s house: taking the bush into the backyards to reverse the edge-effect.

Local photographer, Alan Moore is a passionate amateur who has that rare ability to capture the elusive feeling of being in the bush so you can put it on your wall at home. At Christmas 2009 Alan blew me away when he presented me with a custom made professional quality 2010 calendar with these extraordinary photos that truly captured our bushland home. So when it came planning our workshop I asked Alan if he would share his knowledge and creativity with our community.

Alan’s presentation, Pixplore, introduced simple techniques like the flat plane concept to manage the very short depth of field typical of macro photography: hold the camera parallel to the subject to ensure the best focus for the whole subject. Now I understand why I often have trouble when photographing small insects with the head in focus but the body blurred.

Following the presentation Alan sent the group off on assignment to apply their new knowledge to capture the feeling of being in the bush. Alan shared his creative insights and introduced participants to new ways to see the bush, new ways to experience the flora, fauna, geology and human structures in the landscape.

On return from assignment the participants shared the most amazing range of photos that captured our bushland and showed me new insights to this special place. Alan has kindly critiqued a number of photos from each participant and provided valuable comments. Click to see “The Mountain through other eyes”.

And what is the Koala’s favorite food tree?

Qld Blue Gum or Forest Red Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis

These beautiful straight trees are also a favorite of the forestry industry because of the rich red timber colour, thus Forest Red Gum.

Sue Jones and I (Mike Fox) attended the BCC Creek Ranger Forum today at Walkabout Creek Conference Centre. An ideal location for a workshop discussing environmental restoration, with Butcher Birds, Bell Minors (Bellbirds), Kookaburras and Whipbirds providing a background for our presenters.

The presence of Councillor Peter Matic: Chair of the Environment, Parks and Sustainability Committee, was a stong statement about the political commitment to our restoration work. However, for me Peter’s welcome was overshadowed by the welcome to country and amazing didgeridoo playing of a young nephew of Maroochy Barambah: Turrbal Association. My apologies, I did not make a note of his name, so you will have to contact Maroochy if you want to hear a didgeridoo do things I did not know was possible. I have heard about the concept of circular breathing and I have heard didgeridoos being played but not only was there no pause for breath, it sounded like two didgeridoos playing harmony!

The key note speaker was Simon Warner: CEO of SEQ Catchments Ltd, a community not-for-profit with the vision: to deliver a sustainable future for our community. It was heartening to listen to such a business-like pragmatic analysis of the issues of managing south-east Queensland growth, without destroying the very environment that underpins our business economy and the very communities where we live. Simon is very clear-eyed about about the complexity of driving change, acknowledging that the SEQ Natural Resource Management Plan is not perfect just the most comprehensive plan and targets of any region in Australia. Importantly, he recognises that plans converted to legislation are not enough, so implementation and monitoring of the SEQ NRM Plan is driven by the Chief Executive Officer’s Committee for Natural Resource Management in SEQ which reports to the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning.

Maggie Scattini, of private company Brisbane Bushcare gave a very practical presentation based on a decade of contracting in ecosystem restoration. I particularly liked the way Maggie layered up our understanding of the complex relationships starting with soil: my next article for the Southside Community News will have to be about Maggie’s insights on dirt, moving onto the role of  fungi in the forest, then fauna: apparently our glow-in-the-dark mushrooms are actually food for Rainforest Snails. Leave them to the snails, they are poisonous to people. Talking to Maggie and Bill (her husband) we discovered that Brisbane Bushcare was involved in some of the very first bushcare work on the mountain: at what is now the Rover Street Bushcare site.

The final two speakers, Adrian Caneris of Biodiversity Assessment and Management BAAM, and Prof. Carla Catterall of School of Environment, Griffith University, are both strong supporters of Mt Gravatt Environment Group work.

Mike, Sue, Adrian (L-R)

Adrian gave us a guided walk to the shore of Enoggera Reservoir where he helped us see the significant differences in  four habitat types and how that will change what fauna will use each habitat.

Adrian’s presentation then provided a valuable and fascinating insight into the equipment and techniques in researching fauna living in a particular habitat. Everything from pit traps to scats (animal droppings) have a role in identifying fauna.

Carla Catterall passion for her research is imediately apparent when she stands in front of an audience!

Carla’s presentation introduced some challenging ideas derived from research into habitat recovery after cyclone Larry in 2006, also cyclone Yasi and the floods this year. The most surprising for me was the Connell diversity hypothesis which proposes that maximum species diversity depends on some disturbance: fire, flood, cyclone.

This was particularly challenging when reflecting on Maggie’s recommendation to minimise any disturbance of the soil at our bushcare sites and Adrian’s caution to minimise any disturbance of fauna in research activities. The relationships in nature are complex and we need to draw on the expertise of the amazing people. Carla provided a valuable link to research: Griffith Environmental Futures Centre.

I was honoured to present our Mt Gravatt Environment Group vision,  to sixty members of our Mt Gravatt Men’s Shed last Monday.

The Men’s Shed is an interesting collection of retired tradesmen, professionals and farmers who share an interest in practical projects for the community, particularly focused on woodworking, wood-turning, carpentry and welding.

Over a barbecue lunch I talked with a food scientist who still does voluntary work for CSIRO, an accountant/actuary, farmer/landscaper, electrician and engineer. I was also able to demonstrate some of the specialist bushcare tools like the TreePopper.

My Men’s Shed Presentation covered our vision of a Mountain centred community actively engaged in consolidating healthy habitat areas and reducing habitat isolation with wildlife links. I also covered the threats to the Reserve:

  • Garden waste dumping: garden plants become weeds in bushland
  • Downhill mountain biking: erosion, damage to vegetation, danger to walkers
  • Feral/domestic animals: smell of dog waste not picked up keeps Koalas away

And our habitat restoration at four bushcare sites:

  • Gertrude Petty Place – over 2,000 hours volunteer contribution
  • Rover Street – Koalas and Gliders returning to site
  • Roly Chapman Reserve – looking for a new group leader
  • Fox Gully Bushcare – 2,095 native grasses, vines and trees planted

Discussion of how the Men’s Shed could be actively involved covered the potential for nest boxes and, longer term, construction of an environmental/historical display at the Rover Street bushcare site.

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Congratulations to Sue Jones who organised Sunday’s Clean Up Australia Day in Mt Gravatt Reserve.

Left to Right - Sandra, Jian, Nancy and Sue

The team arrived early to prepare for sign-on and safety briefing.

Clean Up results were excellent:

  • 31 volunteers
  • 35 bags of rubbish (white)
  • 20 bags of recyclables (yellow)
  • Most unusual item found:
    • a full suitcase of clothing!

Michael from BCC Local Area Services also provided excellent support: ferrying ute loads of filled bags back to the Summit. I was little surprised to see an office chair go up on one load. Dumping of rubbish and garden waste is still one of the three big threats to Mt Gravatt Reserve. However, there was general agreement that the new gate at the Shire Road entry has made a big improvement. On Sunday we had a skip provided thanks to Clean Up sponsor Veolia.

The MEG Summit Clean Up was certainly the place to be on Sunday morning. Cr Krista Adams and Ian Walker the new LNP candidate for Mansfield Ward, and Ian’s wife Heather all joined the clean up. An official Clean Up Australia team to see the clean up on one of Brisbane’s iconic sites and the Southern Star was there: so be sure to read this week’s paper.

We had representatives from China and USA joining in to help Clean Up Australia along with members of a walking group, who love the Reserve.

At the end it was a real pleasure to be able to sit in the sun sharing a coffee from the Echidna Magic Kiosk.

The visit by BOIC (Butterflies & Other Invertebrates Club) reported in our local Southside Community News.

Correction and apology: BOIC President’s name was incorrect. My mistake: I provided the wrong name to the journalist.

Ross Kendall of Butterfly Encounters is currently BOIC President.

Another amazing critter in our bushland: Mottled Cup Moth caterpillar Doratifera vulnerans.

I have seen capsules on trees and wondered what they are. They look just like a gum nuts in the wrong place on the tree.

Yesterday I was asked to identify two caterpillars from a local bushcare site. My bushcare colleague had a painful encounter with the stinging spines on these otherwise pretty caterpillars so I put on disposable gloves before I opened the container to photograph these strange creatures.

Butterfly expert Helen Schwenchke put me on the right track when she suggested looking up Cup Moths on the Australian caterpillar identification site. These intriguing pink yellow spiky critters are caterpillars of the Mottled Cup Moth Doratifera vulnerans.

Back to the caterpillars for a real surprise. One had carefully stripped a piece of the eucalypt branch and started spinning silky threads: it was building it chrysalis while I watched!

This process took about 70 minutes with the caterpillar curled tight and completely covered in silk thread.

By  morning the chrysalis had hardened, shrunk to less than half the size and created this capsule that looks just like the gum nuts of the eucalypt trees the caterpillars feed on. See the picture at the top: the chrysalis is the one on the right.

Do you want to help clean up the home of these unique creatures? Register for Summit Cleanup on Sunday 6th March.

Join Mt Gravatt Environment Group (MEG) for Clean Up Australia Day 2011 and help clean up the habitat of some of our special animals.

Sunday 6th March 2011,  8 – 10 am.  Meet at the Echidna Magic Cafe on the summit.

Access via Mt Gravatt Outlook Drive (UBD 201:B2).

Click to Register for Summit Cleanup.

Mt Gravatt Reserve is home to koalas, echidnas, fireflies and forty-five species of butterflies.

Clean Up Australia Day is an opportunity to experience this unique bushland and improve the habitat for our wildlife.

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