Wildlife of Mt Gravatt Reserve


Koala Mum & Joey

Koala Mum & Joey

By: Michael Fox

Koala Phascolarctos cinereus breeding season is roughly August to February.

For some weeks we have been listening to the fighting, bellowing, screaming at night and this morning a Koala mum and baby was sitting in an Acacia just beside the Farm Fire Trail.

Koala Life Cycle poster – Australian Koala Foundation

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Koalas are returning to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. An extraordinary example of the resilience of nature if we give it a chance. As recently as August 1927 over 500,000 Queensland Koalas were hunted for their pelts.

“From 1 to 31 August 1927, Queensland held what was to be the last open hunting season on koalas in Australia. David Stead, President of the Wild Life Preservation Society of Australia, warned that 300,000 would be killed. This figure was ridiculed in certain quarters, but as later events would show, even Stead underestimated the carnage. The Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture and Stock for the year1927-28 gives the number of koalas “secured” as being 584,738.”

Dog off - 9 Oct 2014

Pick-up after your dog

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Hunting is no longer a threat however in our urban environment dogs are a threat to the returning Koalas. A quick bite, even from a small dog, can kill through infection or shock.
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My dog would only play with it. Even a quick bite is enough to kill a Koala. A Koala’s skin is very pliable, with little fat for protection, and internal organs are easily punctured. Some Koalas may appear to have survived a dog attack with very few visible signs of external trauma but may be suffering from internal injuries and may die later from shock or infection. Stress alone might also be enough to trigger other problems such as disease.
During breeding season it is particularly important to keep dogs on a leash within the Reserve and pick up after your dog.
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.

By: Michael Foximg272

Aldi have bought back their excellent, and at $129 excellent value, Maginon wildlife cameras. If you want one be quick because they will sell out fast.

We have been using two of an older version of these cameras for a couple of years now with excellent results. This new one is of course better with higher resolution video and sound recording. Sound recording would be great at the moment when we are capturing video of the very shy Noisy Pitta living in Firefly Gully. Marshal can hear its call but our camera does not handle sound.

The only issue we have found with these cameras is the intensity of the infrared leds used for video. I have fixed this with masking tape covering two thirds of the leds to reduce the intensity and make the camera less noticeable to our Squirrel Gliders.

See some samples:

Noisy Pitta – day time in colour

Koala at night

Squirrel Gliders at night

Mia & Camilla - Griffith Mates 1 - 23 Aug 2014

Mia & Camilla dressed for action

By: Michael Fox

I was very proud of our Griffith Mates partners today. Rain and mud did not stop Camilla and Mia.

The rain meant it was unsafe to work removing Fishbone Fern on the steeper areas of the gully, so our focus was restoring and strengthening the silt filters along the Farm Fire Trail.

Simon Fox checking silt level - 20 Aug 2014

Simon Fox checking level of silt captured

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The silt filters are proving very effective. Simon Fox, our BCC Habitat Brisbane coordinator, is impressed with our simple low-tech solution to reduce erosion. Recycled deck timber is used to make stakes and timber barriers to hold the mulch forming the silt filter.

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Mia & Camilla - Griffith Mates insert - 23 Aug 2014

Muddy silty water

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The filters slow muddy water so the silt has time to settle out while the water filters away. In some areas up to 100mm of silt has been captured and stopped from flowing into Mimosa Creek.

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Restoring mulch around Koala trees

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We also restored mulch around the Koala trees Griffith Mates planted for National Tree Day.

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Golden-tailed Ant nest - 23 Aug 2014

Golden-tailed Spiny Ant nest

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Camilla and Mia were fascinated by what we found while we were looking for rocks to help manage erosion. The first two rocks we turned over we found ant nests so we carefully restored their home.

The first nest was a Golden-tailed Spiny Ant Polyrhachis ammon. When they named it spiny they were not kidding. Aside from the spines over the head and caster (tail) this ant has extraordinary sharp horns on the body.

Black-headed Strobe Ants - composite - 23 Aug 2014

Black-headed Strobe Ant nest

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Under the second rock we found a new ant to add to the species list for the Reserve. Black-headed Strobe Ant Opisthopsis rufithorax.

Enough work. Time to get out of the rain, have a hot drink and warm up.

 

 

 

 

By: Michael Fox

Noisy Pittas are normally found in rainforest habitat like Lamington National Park or Tamborine National Parks where our New Zealand visitor captured the video above.

Marshal Kloske rang today really excited. A brightly coloured plump bird he had never seen before was pecking around the ground under his bird feeder. Initially he thought it was some sort of parrot then it turned its head … no curved beak. Marshal had a Noisy Pitta Pitta versicolour in the Firefly Gully wildlife corridor. First glow in the dark mushrooms now my favourite bird.

We had another sighting of this cute little bird in March 2013. It is a hopeful sign that small forest birds are returning to our mountain gullies.

Let us know if you see a Pitta – megoutlook@gmail.com

 

 

Griffith Mates Team

Griffith Mates Team

By: Michael Fox

A beautiful autumn Saturday morning and Griffith Mates – Sienna, Ben, Lily, Abraham and Larissa joined Roger and myself at Fox Gully Bushcare site. The team removed another large area of Fishbone/Sword Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia and installed logs on the slope to create a safe work space and control erosion.

When the team from FWR Group joined our Wednesday Bushcare in September 2010 to start clearing, the Fishbone Fern covered an area larger than the average Brisbane house block – approximately 1,000 square metres. By the time the FWR team returned six months later, in March 2011, natural regeneration had already restored a good coverage of native grasses like Ottochloa gracillima Graceful Grass. This Living Mulch of native grasses controlled erosion, suppressed weed regrowth, retained moisture and provided food for caterpillars of the Brown and Orange-streaked Ringlet butterflies.

Ben reaching Glider box with GoPro camera

Ben reaching Glider box with GoPro camera

By the time the Griffith Mates team finished another huge area had been cleared and stabilised with logs. Restoration work on the Fishbone infested areas of Zone 8 is now almost complete and with further help from Griffith Mates we expect to finish the weed clearing this year allowing nature to take over with the natural regeneration of local grasses, herbs, ferns and vines.

To finish the morning I showed the team how we check nest boxes installed to provide substitute nest hollows for birds and gliders.

We found the Squirrel Glider family in two boxes and the female Brushtail Possum is still living in the Kookaburra box. She was quite curious about the camera, reaching up to sniff the lens. It is a particular pleasure to share this wildlife experience with young people from places like Hong Kong.

 

Brushtail Possum

Brushtail Possum

By: Michael Fox

At night in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve you see the bush with new eyes … and eyes are what you see.

I knew the eyes of many animals seem to glow in the light of a torch so I was not surprised to find the orange glow of a pair of eyes, was a Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula, prowling around.

What has been really surprising though are the dozens of sparkling lights on the ground – Wolf spiders Lycosa species. In torch light the eyes of these spiders look like tiny diamonds the reflection is so sharp. When I first saw this the light seemed to flash like Fireflies but that effect was just caused by movement of my torch as I approached. When I held the torch steady the light from the spiders’ eyes was also steady.

Garden Orb Weaver web

Garden Orb Weaver web

Apparently Wolf spiders are one a small number of spider species that have a layer of light reflecting crystals, tapetum lucidum, right behind the retina of the eye. This reflective layer improves night vision for these nocturnal hunters by bouncing light back to the retina.

It is interesting to see the different shape, colour and intensity of the light reflected by the eyes of different species. The Wolf spiders have small crystal clear light, while the Brushtail’s eyes were larger, wide apart and the reflection was softer. Toads have similar reflecting eyes and I am getting good at spotting them at a distance, keeping them sitting still in the light, then scooping them up in a plastic bag ready for freezing. I have removed ten toads from the Reserve from my last couple of night walks.

Garden Orb Weaver spiders, Eriophora transmarina, are another night time creature making huge webs at night which are cleaned up in the morning before they retreat to spend the day in a leaf shelter. This particular spider likes to make a web across the fire trail in the Fox Gully Bushcare site. The web spans an amazing 5 to 6 metres to bridge the trail. A large bug or something has already flown straight through this web so I ducked under to avoid any more damage to this extraordinary construction.

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