Roly Chapman Reserve Bushcare


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Mimosa Creek in flood – Jan 2015

Edited By: Michael Fox

Saturday December 5th was the last working bee of the year at Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve.

2015 started out very wet with January storms flooding the new bikeway bridge over Mimosa Creek.

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Flood damage repair – straightening and staking

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After the flood Lomandras have done there job holding the bank in place. However, the newly planted trees are a different story with most knocked flat by flood water.  Liz, Marshal and I moved in to straighten and stake before this beautiful new planting is lost.

Zone 2 - 22 May 2015

Zone 2 – weed infestation May 2015

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Repairs done our Bushcare team returned to working in Zone 2 to tackle the infestation of Guinea Grass Panicum maximum, Small Leafed Privet Ligustrum sinense, Easter Cassia Senna pendula and Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus.

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Zone 2 - 15 Dec 2015

Zone 2 – weeds gone – natives returning

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Having cleared the larger weed species the area we are working on near the boundary with Upper Mount Gravatt School now resembles a primary forest. In the open spaces, native plants no longer smothered in weeds, are springing back to life. Many Cheese trees Glochidion ferdinandi, free from competition are racing for the sky. Ground covers such as Native Wandering Jew Commelina diffusa and Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus are protecting the soil from erosion and keeping it cool, acting as Living Mulch.

Common Flatwing Austroargiolestes icteromelas - 15 Dec 2015

Common Flatwing Austroargiolestes icteromelas

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As we were packing up and looking forward to morning tea, a delicate Common Flatwing Austroargiolestes icteromelas damselfly with bright metallic green stripes paid a visit, hovering over a small patch of vegetation.

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Koala 13 Nov 2015

Koala Phascolarctos cinereus

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We now have proof at last that it’s not just Mount Gravatt that is home to Koalas Phascolarctos cinereus. The one pictured here, almost invisible from the path was spotted last month by a dog walker. A mother and baby have also been sighted. This is another good reason to keep weeds at bay. Koalas need to come to the ground and move across the forest floor to look for suitable food trees. Their task is made much harder when there’s a lot of thick weedy vegetation in the way.

Noisy Miner - feeding chicks2 - Roly C - 16 Oct 2015

Noisy Miner feeding chicks in nest

By: Michael Fox

Some species, like the Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala, are quite happy to share our urban environment. These Miners like to make their nest in the protective wire basket on the lights. Very clever … protection from bigger birds and warmth at night for the eggs.

Now they just need food for the chicks. Nectar feeders, Noisy Miners are honeyeaters, still need protein from insects for their growing chicks.

So it was interesting to have Helen Schwencke, Earthling Enterprises, join us for Roly Chapman Reserve Bushcase last Friday.

Monarch Danaus plexippus - caterpillar - Roly C - 16 Oct 2015

Monarch butterfly caterpillar feeding on Red-headed Cotton Bush

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We found a number of fascinating and photogenic insects in the Reserve.

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Sometimes environmental weeds are the place to look for some of our most attractive insects. The milkweed species, Red-headed Cotton Bush Asclepias curassavica is a favourite of the Monarch or Wanderer butterfly Danaus plexippus.

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Small Green-banded Blue - Psychonotis caelius - caterpillar2 - Roly C - 16 Oct 2015

Small Green-banded Blue caterpillar on Red Ash

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One way to find micro-locals is to look for chewed leaves. An expert like Helen Schwencke can even tell what insect she is looking for just from the pattern of chewing on a leaf.

Caterpillars of the Small Green-banded Blue Psychonotis caelius feed on leaves of the Red Ash/Soapy Ash Alphitonia excelsa. The caterpillar’s lime green colour blends perfectly with the underside of the leaves.

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Native Hibiscus Hibiscus heterophyllus

The name Soapy Ash comes from the effects of saponins on the leaves which create a foaming soapy action. A useful bush soap.

The attractive Native Hibiscus Hibiscus heterophyllus growing in the Pollinator Link display gardens are fast growing and good plants for attracting food for insect eating birds.

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Small Brown-black Leaf Beetle - Nisotra bicolorata - Roly C - 16 Oct 2015

Small Brown-black Leaf Beetle on Native Hibiscus

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We found a number of Small Brown-black Leaf Beetle Nisotra bicolorata feeding on Native Hibiscus.

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Ladybird Coelophora inaequalis - wings - 16 Oct 2015

Ladybird Coelophora inaequalis

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Seeing a Ladybird Coelophora inaequalis spreading its wings is something special. The pattern of dots is a key to identification of Ladybird species.

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Milkweed Aphid - Aphis nerii - 16 Oct 2015 crop

Infestation of Milkweed Aphid Aphis nerii

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Ladybirds are particularly valuable for control of infestations of Aphids.

Aphid infestations can cause massive damage as they suck juice from plants. Ladybirds are particularly valuable for garden pest control as both adult and larvae Ladybirds are predators.

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Sawfly - 16 Oct 2015

Sawfly – species not identified

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We found this beautiful Sawfly adult feeding on Sandpaper Fig Ficus opposita. We have not identified the particular species of Sawfly. I have sent the photo to the Queensland Museum Ask a question team for identification.

Sawfly larvae are curious looking caterpillars that feed on native plants.

The Sandpaper Fig is often called the Supermarket Tree. It attracts birds, can be used for shade, food, medicine, tools, fire and string to make nets and traps.

Monkey Rope Vine - 17 July 2015

Vines, ferns and shadows

By: Michael Fox

In some parts of Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve you would think you were in a rainforest miles from anywhere, not in the middle of Brisbane.

One feature of the habitat is the Monkey-rope Vine Parsonsia straminea snaking up the paperbark trees all surrounded by a forest of ferns and deep shadows.

Roly Chapman micro-climate is very different to most of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve, riparian woodland with permanent water in Mimosa Creek. Paperbark trees, Willow Bottlebrush Callistemon salignus, are a significant feature in this wet habitat.

Monkey Rope Vine - close - 17 July 2015

Monkey Rope Vine

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Marshal and I discovered this massive vine once  Small Leafed Privet Ligustrum sinense and Easter Cassia Senna pendula var glabrata were cleared. The thickest Monkey Rope Vine I have found, this seems to be three or four vines that have fused together as they grew.

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Monkey Rope Vine - high - 17 July 2015

Monkey-rope Vine climbing high

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Parsonsia vines are quite aggressive growing high in the trees and even pulling large trees down.

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Common Crow - caterpillar - 11 Mar 12

Common Crow Euploea core
caterpillar

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Parsonsia vines may damage the trees however they are also a caterpillar food plant for Common Crow Euploea core caterpillars.

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Blue Tiger sex brand

Blue Tiger sex brand

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While male Blue Tiger Tirumala hamata may be seen on Parsonsia straminea vines scratching the leaves and collecting alkaloids to be converted to pheromones and stored in sex brands to attract females.

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Blue Tiger - claws 1 - 6 Feb 2015 cropped

Blue Tiger claws

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How can a delicate butterfly scratch a leaf?

Claws. Blue Tiger butterfly claws may be tiny but they are every bit as business like as their namesake cats.

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“Keep up the good work. I can find more worms.”

By: Michael Fox

The locals definitely approve of our Friday Bushcare at Roly Chapman Reserve. Every Friday morning a family of Grey Butcherbirds Cracticus torquatus joins us to hunt worms, spiders and bush cockroaches uncovered as we clear the weeds and let in the sun.

Cheese Tree - regrowth - 19 June 2015 - Roly Chapman

Regrowth of Cheese Trees

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As we clear the weeds and let the light in, Cheese Trees Glochidion and other native species are sprouting new growth.

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Arrowhead Vine Syngonium podophyllum - 19 June 2015 - Roly Chapman

Weed regrowth – Arrowhead Vine

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Unfortunately, letting in the sun also allows the weed species to regenerate. Most weed can be composted on-site, however, in future we will bag and remove any Arrowhead Vine Syngonium podophyllum.

The Weeds of Australia Fact Sheet describes Arrowhead Vine as:

Arrowhead Vine Syngonium podophyllum - roots - 19 June 2015 - Roly Chapman

Roots on Arrowhead Vine

A rampant creeper or climbing plant that grows over other vegetation, often reaching 5-10 m or more in height when climbing larger trees.

Stem segments and cuttings are commonly dispersed in dumped garden waste and woodchips. Once established, a plant will spread outwards, forming a colony, and taking root wherever its stems touch the ground. Stem segments can also be spread by mowers, slashes and floodwaters.

Weeds of Australia Fact Sheet

Most of the weeds in our first compost pile have rotted down to soil. However, the Arrowhead Vine is not composting but growing through up to 300mm of mulch cover to sprout new leaves.Normally we use black plastic to promote heat aid composting and cook weed seeds. Because the current restoration site at Roly Chapman is so close to the path people were removing the plastic covering. A Security Planting of Lomandras beside the track will progressively reduce random access to the restored area.

Small Leaved Privet - bush - 5 June 2015 lr

Small Leaved Privet

By: Michael Fox

Discriminating between environmental weeds and similar looking native species can be difficult at times:

Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) may also be confused with native privet (Ligustrum australianum), which is present in northern and central Queensland. Native privet is not a pest plant. (Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries)

Working at Roly Chapman Reserve Bushcare with Liz and Marshal, I was confident we were dealing with a grove of Small Leaved Privet but to be sure I Googled the Ag and Fisheries site.

Small Leaved Privet - 5 June 2015 - cropped

Small Leaved Privet – seeds

The description matched except for “Deep-green finely hairy leaves”. Deep-green was right but the leaves looked smooth not hairy.

Liz and I had both watched Todd Sampson’s Redesign My Brain on ABC the night before. In the series Todd works with Dr. Michael Merzenich, Chief Scientific Officer, Posit Science, to explore brain training. Our sense of touch was one area explored in the program so Liz and I decided to experiment with our sense of touch to detect fine hairs we could not see.

Running our fingers then thumbs over the leaves we could feel the “finely hairy” even though we could not see it. Apparently we have 3,000 touch receptors or neurons in each finger tip. However, we lose neurons as we age reducing our touch sensitivity. Brain training can help compensate for the loss of neurons. Interestingly both Liz and I found that, like Todd, our thumbs were more sensitive to touch.

To actually see the fine hairs on the Privet leaf I had to take a macro-photo with my iPhone and AlloClip adapter. Click on photo to enlarge further.

Small Leaved Privet - finely hairy - 5 June 2015 - cropped

.Small Leaved Privet Ligustrum sinense …. Finely hairy too fine to see? Use your touch instead. Photo: iPhone with alloclip

Easter Cassia flower - 15 May 2015

Easter Cassia Senna pendula var. glabrata

By: Michael Fox

Around Easter each year you can see the beautiful yellow splashes of colour in our urban bushland as the environmental weed Easter Cassia Senna pendula var. glabrata comes into flower.

Our last Friday Bushcare at Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve focused on clearing Easter Cassia before another season’s crop of seed matures and spreads the weed further.

Easter Cassia seed pods - 15 May 2015

Easter Cassia seed pods

Diamond-leaf Pittosporum - Auranticarpa rhombifolia - 15 May 2015 lr

Australian Holly/Christmas Berry Ardisia crenata

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Easter Cassia produces beautiful flowers for much of the year. However, it also produces large numbers of seed pods spreading from gardens into urban bushland and shading out native plant species.

You can help protect our bushland by replacing Easter Cassia with native Sennas which have yellow flowers, grow to a similar 2 to 3 metres in height and attract a range of butterflies to your garden. See Toowoomba Plants article on native Sennas and butterflies.

Attractive garden plants like Australian Holly/Christmas Berry Ardisia crenata often become environmental weeds in our urban bushland as they are dumped at garden waste or spread by birds. The moist conditions within Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve make this important habitat particularly vulnerable to invasion by Ardisia crenata.

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Chinese Elm - 15 May 2015

Chinese Elm removed with Treepopper

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We also used the Treepopper to remove a well established Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis. Another garden escapee that crowds out native plant species vital to our native birds, butterflies and bees.

When ever possible we avoid using poison. Instead we pull woody weeds up roots and all with the Treepopper.

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Grey Butcherbird - 15 May 2015

Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus

Our bush restoration work is very satisfying as we clear the weeds and watch the regrowth of native habitat. And every Friday as we work we are joined by a family of Grey Butcherbirds Cracticus torquatus looking for breakfast of spiders, centipedes and bush cockroaches. These birds are so used to us now that they will land on a branch right beside you and pose while you take photos or sing cheerful tunes that seem to be thank-you songs.

Willow Bottlebrush -Flower - 20 Mar 2015

Willow Bottlebrush Callistemon salignus

By: Michael Fox

If you want a gentle walk or ride though the bush, Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve is worth a visit and the new cycle path crossing Mimosa Creek expands community access to this special place.

Damselfly - 30 Mar 2015

Damselfly (blue) – not identified

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Kate and Liz inspecting new planting

Walking through the Reserve last Friday morning with Liz Pell, restoration project leader and Kate Flink, BCC Habitat Brisbane, was particularly special as I was immersed in a world filled with the scent of honey from the flowering Willow Bottlebrush trees Callistemon salignus and the chattering of dozens of Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus drunk on the nectar.

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Mimosa Creek in flood – 23 March 2015

Roly Chapman Bushland is very different to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve because it has permanent water flowing though Mimosa Creek. Walk quietly as you cross Mimosa Creek. It is common to see turtles in the creek, Eastern Water Dragons Pogona barbata sunning on the rocks. Last Friday Dragonflies and Damselflies were also everywhere resting on leaves or skimming over the water.

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Post flood – no damage to planting

The new cycle path  is a credit to the Brisbane City Council Bikeways Project team and the contractors who did the work. The BCC designers minimised the impact on this sensitive habitat. The new track weaves to reduce loss of trees and, at the same time, creating an interesting and pleasant route instead of a straight strip of concrete. Even the installation of cabling for lights minimised impact on trees by using vacuum excavation around the roots.

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The quality of the restoration planting is evidenced by seeing virtually no damage after the flood water over the track in January. None of the new Lomandras were lost and the fibre matting is hardly disturbed.

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Orchard Swallowtail caterpillar - 20 Mar 2015

Orchard Swallowtail caterpillar

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Further along the track only one of the new trees has been lost – we normally consider anything than 80% survival is very good for restoration planting. Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus butterflies are already breeding on the advanced Crow’s Ash Flindersia australis planted.

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