Wildlife


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

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

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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.

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Squirrel Glider family

Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis family

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A bundle of Gliders.

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Brushtail & baby - 3 Sept 2014

Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula & baby

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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.

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Len Kann introducing Australian native bees

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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.

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Afternoon tea

Bush food – punkin scones, jam and crea

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

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Sign

BCC Habitat Brisbane interpretative sign

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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.

 

Orchard Swallowtail - Male - Apr10

Orchard Swallowtail – Male

By: Michael Fox

Forty-six butterfly species are found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve with a wide range of colours, sizes and behaviour.

I have been aware, for some time, of the different colours of the male and female Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus.

Orchard Swallowtail - Nov 08

Orchard Swallowtail – Female – laying eggs on lemon tree

Orchard Swallowtail butterflies are large  (male 102mm/female 108mm). However, the females are definitely the most attractive to see flitting around your citrus trees.

These beautiful butterflies are a wonderful addition to any backyard, so if you see some strange caterpillars on your citrus trees please check before you pull out the pest spray. The Orchard caterpillars will do very little damage to your trees before they metamorphosise into beautiful colourful butterflies.

Blue Tiger - male - 17 Oct 10

Blue Tiger – male – on Parsonsia leaf

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Identifying the sex of Blue Tiger Tirumala hamata butterflies is more difficult. It took a chance comment from Helen Schwencke, Earthling Enterprises, to make me even think to look for a way to identify males vs females. I had sent Helen a picture of a Blue Tiger in the winter sunlight. Helen emailed back commenting that the “male” butterfly would be collecting alkaloids from the Parsonsia leaf to make him more attractive to females.

Blue Tiger - female - 24 Aug 2013

Blue Tiger – female

Female Blue Tigers have a very similar patten of colours on their wings. When I asked how Helen identified a male butterfly just from a photo, she introduced me to butterfly “sex brands” which can be found on a number of butterfly species including Blue Tigers and Common Crows.

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Blue Tiger sex brand

Blue Tiger male sex brands circled

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The Blue Tiger males have distinctive sex brands on the hind wing.

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Common Crow - male - 10 Feb 2014 - on barbed wire vine

Common Crow – male.

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Common Crow - male - sex brand

Common Crow – male – sex brand

The Common Crow Euploea core male has a sex brand on the fore wing.

Now that I am aware of sex brands I will have to ensure all my photographs of mountain butterflies include this information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mother of Ducks Lagoon

By: Michael Fox

Traveling  back from Armidale, NSW last week we stopped at the Mother of Ducks Lagoon in Guyra.

Yellow-billed Spoonbill - Gurya - 20 June 2014

Yellow-billed Spoonbill Platalea flavipes

White-winged Choughs Corcorax melanorhamphos

Mother of Ducks Lagoon (McKie Drive)
One of Guyra’s most important landmarks in Guyra is the Mother of Ducks Lagoon which is a large stretch of water 14kms in circumference, held in a silted volcanic crater.

Black-winged Stilt - 20 June 2014

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

Once a magnificent body of water large enough for boating, the lagoon has been drained for agricultural and other purposes since the turn of the century. The lagoon was partially restored as Guyra’s Bicentennial project and is once again home to a wide range of aquatic birds. Nests of black swans and a host of other water birds can be seen from the viewing platform or by walking around the bank of the reserve area.

The golf course follows its contours and the two meld comfortably into the unique landscape of Guyra. Picnic tables and toilet facilities are available next to the entrance and information stand. The lagoon is the source of Sandy/Laura creek which is known for its trout fishing.”

White-faced Heron - 20 June 2014

White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae

Guyra Online

We only stopped for fifteen minutes and in that time saw a flight of what we think were White-winged Choughs Corcorax melanorhamphosIt was fascinating to watch the flock wheel over then settle in waves. We were also visited by a Yellow-billed Spoonbill Platalea flavipesBlack-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus, White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae and Grey Teal Anas gracilis.

A great spot to stop for a picnic or afternoon tea. Only a couple of minutes  off the highway but a peaceful world away from traffic and trucks.

Grey Teal - Mother of Ducks Lagoon - 20 June 2014

Grey Teal Anas gracilis

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