Wildlife


Koala mapping - Mar 2015

First Koala sightings 2015

By: Michael Fox

2015 is off to a good start with six sightings of Koalas reported already, and, importantly, the sightings have been right around the Reserve.

Koala - Mt Gravatt Campus - 23 Feb 2015 - Michael McGeever

          Koala – Griffith Uni Mt Gravatt Campus                          Photo: Michael McGeever

The latest sighting was on Sunday while we were doing a guided walk for our Griffith Mates visitors. Pieter Demmers spotted the Koala high in a tree beside Acacia Way. Seeing this Koala in the bush was particularly special for our visitors from Germany, France and China.

Michael McGeever spotted another Koala, probably a male,  just at the entry to the Mt Gravatt Campus

.

.

.

.

Koala - Fox Gully - 27 Feb 2015

Young Koala Fox Gully

.

Then we were woken about 4am last week. A young Koala seemed to be calling its mother with the short squeal – almost a ‘yip’, they use to communicate. I was able to get a photo when is climbed an Acacia near the house.

In 2014 at least two Joeys (baby Koalas) were born in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. In 2015 we want to do more tracking of Koalas with the aim of identifying and tracking individuals to help us understand their movement patterns and how to reduce the number killed on the South-east Freeway.

So if you see a Koala, please take a photo – phone camera is ok, note the location and any comments eg. mother with joey or walking along the road.

Sightings can be reported to Koala Tracker and/or emailed to megoutlook@gmail.com.

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.

IMG_8034

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.

.

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.

IMG_8042

Log boundary

.

.

.

.

.

.

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

.

Creek crossing

Crossing Flat Rock Creek

.

.

..

.

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.

.

angophora costata

Smooth-barked Apple Angophora costata

.

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.

.

.

.

.

.

IMG_8087

On-site weed recycling

.

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.

.

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

.

.

.

Drynaria rigidula - 22 Nov 2014

New life in Basket Fern

.

.

.

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

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Coracina novaehollandiae - 22 Nov 2014

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

.

.

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.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Todiramphus sanctus - 19 Nov 2014

Forest Kingfisher

.

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

 

 

Goniaea opomaloides - 9 Oct 2014

Can you see me?

Goniaea opomaloides - close - 9 Oct 2014 adjusted

Mimetic Gumleaf Grasshopper

By: Michael Fox

Every time I walk in forest I see something new. Something that has probably been in plain sight all the time.

Camouflage is a key survival strategy in the bush and this Mimetic Gumleaf Grasshopper Goniaea opomaloides is one of the best I have seen. Of course I have not seen all the ones with better camouflage.

By: Michael Fox

Masked Lapwing nest with camouflaged eggs

Masked Lapwing nest with camouflaged eggs

Some parents, like our Brush-turkeys Alectura lathami, take a very hands/wings-off approach to raising their young. Male Brush-turkeys put a lot of effort into building a huge mulch pile for the eggs and monitor the mound temperature closely but once their chicks are hatched they are on their own and able to fly within a few hours.

Masked Lapwing (Spur-winged Plover) Vanellus miles parents couldn’t be more different. Given their approach to nesting, I am amazed that these birds seem to thrive in our urban spaces.

IMG_7275

How can eggs survive in a space like this?

In early September I  photographed this nest in the mown area between the Southern Cross Sports Club and Logan/Klumpp Road intersection. Very different from the Brush-turkey mound, this nest was just a shallow depression in the sand with a few twigs. With hundreds of cars passing, pedestrians, mowers and football fans, this is not an ideal place to hatch eggs.

Masked Lapwing - defending nest - 2 Sept 2014

Don’t come any closer!

However, Plovers are very protective parents using tactics ranging from moving away from their eggs, to threatening and sometime swooping. These very protective parents put on a very threatening display with loud squawking, spreading wings and running towards you showing their sharp wing spurs.  Simply moving away is usually enough and swooping birds rarely actually make contact … it is mainly bluff.

The Backyard Buddies team have a good guide for kids on relating to Plovers – http://www.fnpw.org.au/PDFS/Resources/maskedLapwing.pdf

My photos of the nest were all taken from about 2o metres distance, as I was already upsetting the parent birds and I didn’t want to make things worse.

So, that was early September, early October and our proud parents are now protecting four tiny balls of grey/white fluff … with powerful feet and legs that look like they belong to a miniature Emu.

IMG_7545

Plover chicks or miniature Emus?

The parents were still very protective as the chicks hunted for insects and grubs on the Vulture’s football field. Environmentally friendly solution to lawn grub problems?

Particularly interesting was the change in behaviour of the parents. Their calls now seemed to serve two purposes. As I approached well outside the fence the parent’s calls seemed to trigger the four chicks to immediately move away from the fence and further into the field. At the same time the parents made it very clear to me that I was not welcome. I wonder how they get on with the football players?

 

.

 

Nest box monitoring - 3 Sept 2014

(l-r) Marshal, Alan, Saki and myself. Liz is on the camera

 

By: Michael Fox

Kyoto University student, Saki, joined Marshal, Alan, Saki, Liz and myself at Bushcare on Wednesday to check the nest boxes providing important habitat for hollow dwelling wildlife.

We the GoPro camera to  drop in on the Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis family were at home in one of the glider boxes.

.

.

.

.

.

Squirrel Glider family

Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis family

.

A bundle of Gliders.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Brushtail & baby - 3 Sept 2014

Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula & baby

.

.

Then we visited mother Brushtail and her baby (called a joey like Kangaroos) in the Kookaburra nest box. The Brushtail took over the nest box not long after the installation by Hollow Log Homes. The Kookaburras took over the Boobook Owl box to raise their family.

Acacia Way entry

Acacia Way Track – Mt Gravatt Campus

By: Michael Fox

As part of National Tree Day celebrations, Laurie Deacon and I were privileged to lead a guided walk in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve for twenty-one Griffith University students and friends. We have partnered with Griffith Mates since 2012 to offer students the opportunity to give back to the tranquil bushland surrounding Griffith University.

 

Watershed - Bulimba & Norman Creek catchments .......... Acacia

Watershed – Bulimba & Norman Creek ………… Brisbane Fringed Wattle Acacia fimbriata

On track

Fishing line and bush food

Rain falling on Mt Gravatt flows into two different river catchments: Norman Creek catchment via Ekibin Creek and Bulimba Creek catchment via Mimosa Creek. Acacia Way follows the ridge line forming the watershed between the catchments.

Winter is flowering time for many of our wattles, like this beautiful fragment delicate Brisbane Fringed Wattle.

Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve has an amazing species diversity with two hundred and seventy-one native plant species identified, including Settlers Flax Gymnostachys anceps which was used by indigenous people to make fishing lines, and bush food Molucca Raspberry Rubus moluccanus.

Planting Team

Planting Koala trees

Luke tree

Laminated tags identify each planter

 

Arriving at Fox Gully Bushcare the team prepare to plant twenty Koala food trees including Small-fruited Grey Gum Eucalyptus propinqua, Scribbly Gum Eucalyptus racemosa and Qld Blue Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis.

.

.

.

.

DSC_1671

Len Kann introducing Australian native bees

.

Len Kann introduced the team to our Australian native bees. Len keeps hives with the small black Stingless Native Bees Trigona carbonaria. He has also developed a deep knowledge of native solitary bees like our local Blue Banded Bees Amegilla cingulata and Teddy Bear Bees Amegilla bombiformis.

.

Afternoon tea

Bush food – punkin scones, jam and crea

.

.

With the work done time for the reward. Thanks to Margaret Medland for the delicious home made punkin scones, jam and cream!

.

.

Sign

BCC Habitat Brisbane interpretative sign

.

.

The walk back included a detour to the Summit where we inspected the new interpretative signs installed by BCC Habitat Brisbane team.

Thank you to our Griffith Mates visitors. We look forward to meeting again at a bushcare.

 

« Previous PageNext Page »