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Bush Monsters raring to go!

By: Michael Fox

Heather (Woods) and the Bush Monsters again led the charge for our 2017 Clean Up Australia.

Thirty four participants, including a babe in arms: it is good to see them starting young, and other family groups were broken into three teams:

  • Summit Team – cleaning up the picnic area
  • Road Team – picking up fast food packets
  • Weeding Team – clearing Mother-of- Millions and Asparagus Ferns
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Carl, Jean and future     bush lover

Joe Kelly MP Member for Greenslopes and Matt Campbell joined the Summit Team cleaning up the picnic area.

Thanks to the work of Brisbane City Council maintenance crews the picnic area is generally tidy these days. However, Clean Up Co-ordinator Heather focused the Team on detailed job of collecting pieces of broken glass. It is important to keep the picnic area safe for kids to run barefoot in the park.

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Dolcin Family on Summit Team

I think the Road Team needed a third type of rubbish bag specially branded as McDonalds Rubbish. While the Reserve is much cleaner these days throwing fast food packaging from cars still seems to be a popular sport and the vast majority of drink cups and packets have the famous golden arches brand.

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Family fun on Road Team

I have rarely seen so many happy faces picking up rubbish … must be something to do with being out in the fresh and the trees.

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Amber and Barb more fun on Road Team

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Weed Buster Allegra

I led the Weed Team on the attack to clear invasive Mother-of-Millions Bryophyllum tubiflorum* and Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus*.

Mother-of-Millions commonly spreads into our bushland when people dump garden waste and being a succulent this weed can survive and spread rapidly in our dry Australian conditions.

The De Guzman family returned to represent Viridian Energy and specialised as Mother-of-Millions Weed Busters.

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Jenny and Karen Asparagus Fern Busting

Jenny and Karen specialised in removing Asparagus Fern which has spread into the Reserve by fruit eating birds visiting local gardens then flying into the bushland. The Cyclone Two-pronged Hoe is an ideal tool for getting under crown of the weed and pulling it up roots and all.

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Weed Team – (l-r) Allegra, Hennessy, Sandy, Jeamie, Karen, Jenny and Noel

Final count for the event teams was twenty-one bags of rubbish and weeds. Congratulations and thank you for all the hard work!

See you at National Tree Day 30 July.

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By: Michael Fox

Gertrude Petty picnic area 8 March, Ann, Sarah, Liz and Mike

………….(l-r) Ann, Sarah, Liz & myself

I was honoured to lead an enthusiastic group of YHA Bushwalkers Queensland – variety YHA Bushies. The Bushies were interested in everything from plants and animals to the geology of the mountain.

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Starting from Gertrude Petty Place we visited two Stingless Native Bee Trigona carbonaria hives then followed the Federation Track to Federation Lookout.

View from Federation lookout, 8 March

…………View from Federation Lookout

The Federation Lookout faces east with views to Mt Petrie, Mt Cotton and Stradbroke Island in the distance.

The track downhill from the Lookout shows the amount of quartz found on the mountain. There were some attempts to find gold but nothing came of it.

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Pink Planthoppers - 8 Mar 2016 low res

…………..Pink Planthopper Colgar sp

The next stage of the Federation Track, from the junction with the Scribbly Gum Track, took us past a number of Scribbly Gums Eucalyptus racemosa. The characteristic scribbles on the bark are created by caterpillars of the tiny Scribbly Gum moth.

We also found a new addition for our fauna species list. This cute Pink Planthopper Colgar sp. stayed still long enough for a photograph.

Galas cleaning nest hollow - 8 Mar 2016

…………..Galahs cleaning nest hollow

Just above use a pair of Galahs Eolophus roseicapillus were cleaning out a nest hollow where a branch has broken off the tree.

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At the top of Federation Track we inspected the small forest bird planting and one of the new interpretative signs. Small Forest Bird sign

Sarah and Liz are members of the West End Greening Group – restoring the habitat at the end of Dauphin Terrace, Highgate Hill. So they were particularly interested in the signs and our methodology for creating the small bird habitat.

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Bitter Bark Petalostigma pubescens 8 Mar 2016 low res

Quinine Bush/Bitter Bark Petalostigma pubescens

A break for tea and chocolate cake. I am told the Bushies consider cake an important resource for any walk in the bush.

We inspected the work eradicating Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus

I also showed them the Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana and Quinine Bush/Bitter Bark Petalostigma pubescens.

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Mt Gravatt Walk 8 March (2)

……….Basket Fern Drynaria rigidula

On to the main Fox Gully Bushcare site we talked about the nest boxes and the resident Squirrel Glider family.

The Bushies were very impressed with the way Basket Fern Drynaria rigidula is recovering with the removal of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia.

It was a real pleasure to show the Bushies Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

Amanda McArthur 2 - 26 Sept 2016

Amanda launched her attack on Ochna

By: Michael Fox

Our Griffith Mates friends returned for Fox Gully Bushcare last Saturday.

The job for the day was attacking our three most invasive weeds.

Amanda launched her attack on the Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata. Ochna is a garden escapee that spreads when birds eat the bright coloured berries then fly into the bush, then spreads quickly as the shrubs get established.

Ochna is a particularly difficult weed to remove because of the deep tap-root.  The Treepopper is the ideal weapon attack these woody weeds and you get a great sense of satisfaction as you pull these weeds out roots and all, and no poison needed.

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Emmanuel - 26 Sept 2015

Emmanuel attacks Asparagus Fern

Emmanuel launched his attack on another garden escapee – Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus – again spread by birds eating the red fruit.

Emmanuel used a Cyclone 2 Prong Hoe to remove the Asparagus Fern before trimming off the leaves and roots and collecting the crown for removal off-site. The crown is the brain of the Asparagus Fern, so removal means the plant will not regrow.

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Tomorrow - 26 Sept 2015

Tomorrow identifies Basket Fern from her visit to Cairns

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It is a real pleasure to share the forest with our international visitors. I was particularly impressed when Tomorrow identified Basket Fern Drynaria rigidula.

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Emmanuel and Tomorrow - team - 26 Sept 2015

Emmanuel and Tomorrow team up against Ochna

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Emmanuel and Tomorrow teamed up to tackle the Ochna.

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Emmanuel and Tomorrow - 26 Sept 2015

WOW! That is a big Ochna root

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With Tomorrow digging using the 2 Prong Hoe and Emmanuel on the Treepopper the team managed to pull out the largest Ochna trunk I have seen.

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Lantana team - 26 Sept 2015

Lantana team (l-r) Sienna, Amanda, Ho Yi and Sau To

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Sienna, Amanda, Ho Yi and Sau To attacked the Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses again a garden escapee spread by birds eating the purple fruit.

The Lantana team cleared a large area of weed, raking it into swales to compost, control water runoff and reduce spread of weed seed.

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Stick Case Moth - 26 Sept 2015

Stick Case Moth Clania lewinii

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A successful morning for all. Amanda filled her five specimen containers with a bush cockroach, butterfly and other insects for her university collection.

We also added Stick Case Moth Clania lewinii to our species list for the Reserve.

The shape and construction materials of a case moth’s portable home allow identification of the moth species. Stick Case Moths build their case moth bags using sticks of similar length. Similar bags are built the Faggot Case Moth Clania ignobilis with one or two longer sticks.

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Ants - 26 Sept 2015

Meeting the locals – Golden-tailed Spiny Ant nest

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How better to finish the day?

I showed how turning over a couple of rocks could expose a whole new world.

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Golden-tailed Spiny Ant - 22 July 2014 - Alan Moore - close

Golden-tailed Spiny Ant up close

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The Golden-tailed Spiny Ant Polyrhachis ammon really are spiny. Click on photo to enlarge.

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Pandorea pandorana - close - 24 Sept 2014

Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana

By: Michael Fox

Every now and then I come across something really special when doing my bush restoration work. This morning it was coming across this Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana covered in hundreds of flowers.

I have been working in the area around this vine for months creating a barrier to stop the spread of Guinea Grass Panicum maximum and remove carpet of huge Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus. I was in the area only a few days ago and didn’t see any flowers then when I arrived this morning the vine was covered in flowers.

Pandorea pandorana - tree - 24 Sept 2014

Wonga Wonga Vine covering an old stag

I have seen Wonga Wonga Vine in Toohey Forest around the Nathan Campus but never in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. This exciting find means we have not identified two hundred and seventy-two different native plant species found in this special island of bushland surrounded by the suburban matrix of houses and roads. That means in 66 hectares we have 11% of the total native plant diversity in the whole of the 22 million hectares of Great Britain.

Wonga Wonga Vine is a vigorous twining plant with this patch almost covering a huge old stag (dead tree) creating great habitat for the small forest birds to hide and nest.

Being right in the middle of the area I have been clearing of weeds, this vine will have a great opportunity to spread as part of the natural regeneration that is all ready occurring with Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variable,  Pink Tongues Rostellularia adscendens and Scrambling Lilly Geitonoplesium cymosum returning.

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Asparagus Fern - 2 Prong Hoe - June 2014

Cyclone 2 Prong Hoe

By: Michael Fox

Garden escapees like Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus are one of three key threats to the long term future of the two hundred sixty-nine native plant species found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

Weeding a 66ha reserve is a bit more of a challenge than managing the average backyard and the bushcare workforce are all volunteers. So getting the “right tool for the job” is critical for team productivity and workplace safety.

Asparagus Fern - 2 Prong - edges - June 2014

Waging war on weeds

The Cyclone 2 Prong Hoe is an excellent general purpose tool for restoration work:

  • light weight allows longer periods of continuous use; and
  • long handle reduces back strain by reducing bending and allows for safer access to weedy slopes.

Most important the 2 Prong Hoe is the ideal weapon for attacking the prickly difficult to tackle Asparagus Fern.

Asparagus Fern - seeds - close - 3 June 2014 - Alan Moore

Major source of re-infection

The strong narrow prongs easily hook in under the crown of the plant allowing the whole root mat to be lifted out in one piece. For larger plants where to root mat for one plant can be cover more than one square metre use the hoe to lift the root mat around the edges to reduce the weight before lifting from the crown.

Remember to wear gloves when you attack this prickly weed. I like the Flex Tuff gloves which offer good protection while allow a good sense of touch.

Asparagus Fern is highly infectious with dozens of seeds that birds love so every plant removed is one less source of re-infection.

Removing Chinese Elm with Treepopper

Removing Chinese Elm with Tree Popper

By: Michael Fox

Marshal and I tackled the Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis infestation in Fox Gully Bushcare this morning. Mature Chinese Elms can reach 20 metres in backyard gardens.

A Tree Popper is the ideal tool for this job allowing us to remove all but six larger Elms without using poison. The largest we removed with the Popper as about twice my height with an extensive spreading root system.

In total we removed 40 Chinese Elms, about 30 Umbrella Trees Schefflera actinophylla, dozens of Micky Mouse Plants Ochna serrulata, Camphor Laurels Cinnamomum camphora, Small Leaf Privet Ligustrum sinense and Indian Hawthorne Rhaphiolepis indica.

Chinese Elm with extensive root system

Chinese Elm with extensive root system

The Tree Popper is perfect for use in safely and easily removing these woody weeds in bush restoration sites. The jaws of the Popper clamp around the trunk and the long handle provides leverage to pull the weed roots and all. The Popper is particularly useful for tackling the deep-rooted Micky Mouse Plant.

Using Cyclone 2-Prong Hoe we also removed two garbage bags of Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus and Climbing Asparagus Fern Asparagus plumosus. The long handle and sharp prongs of the 2-Prong Hoe reach past the prickly leaves and the prongs get right under the crown of the plant allowing the complete weed mat to be removed quickly and easily.

 

By: Michael Fox

From Granby Street take Federation Track to Gertrude Petty Place

I joined Sandra, David and Marshall this morning to explore the headwaters of Jo’s Creek: above the timber bridge on the Federation Track. Our aim was to clear a large infestation of Ochna serrulata Mickey Mouse Plant which is currently flowering and getting ready to set seed.

This upper section of Jo’s Creek where the Federation Track crosses is quite special with Coin-spot Treeferns Cyathea cooperi thriving

Marshall clearing Ochna removed with Treepopper

along the sides of the gully even in the very dry weather. When we have good rain the many rock pools fill up and the gully is alive with birds you don’t find in more open forest areas.

Working together we cleared a large area of Ochna, Umbrella Trees Schefflera actinophylla, Lantana Lantana camara and Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus. Some larger Umbrella Trees had to be cut and poisoned however most Ochna

Sandra (left) and David

was pulled out roots and all with the Treepopper. The Asparagus Fern was lifted out whole with two-pronged hoes.

Still plenty of weeds to be cleared but a good morning’s work so we head home. On the way I show David how to wash his hands with “bush soap” made from leaves of the Soapy Ash Alphitonia excelsa.

“I’m out in the bush and still have to wash my hands!”