By: Michael Fox
Photos: Alan Moore

Sunday morning 31 July and one hundred and thirteen volunteers have arrived for 2016 National Tree Day. So I took one team to tackle the Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses while Sue Jones organised the other team to start the planting. The teams swapped jobs after morning tea.

Lantana Busters hard at work
Lantana Busters hard at work clearing 1,600 square metres of Creeping Lantana

Creeping Lantana is a major weed threat in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. Lantana competes for native plants for scarce water reserves and nutrients, physically smothers other plant and the chemicals in Lantana have a significant negative effects on native plant species.

The Lantana Busting teams cleared an amazing 1,600 square metres with one group raking the weed into long swales to manage erosion and retain water while others followed up, hand pulling the remaining roots. I explained that once the roots are removed the Lantana can be left piled up without regrowing. Slow, detailed but amazingly effective work. I showed the teams the natural regeneration of native grasses: Pademelon Grass Oplismenus imbecillis and Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus, Tufted Scleria Scleria mackaviensis (native sedge) and Slender Grape Cayratia clematidea (native vine). Nature works 24/7 to build on our work and the forest will regenerate naturally if we clear the weeds.

Planting - 31 July 2016

Over with the planting team it was all action, lots of smiles and a big job in hand. This year the team is building on the work from 2015 National Tree Day with in-fill planting of 564 creepers, grasses, shrubs and trees to provide safe habitat and food for small forest birds, including nectar, pollen, insects and seeds. 2016 National Tree Day Planting List

Like last year, this was real cross-cultural event with the Griffith Mates Bushcare Team, Ahmadiyya Muslim Association and Alpha Phi Omega teams returning. This year we welcomed a new team representing carbon neutral energy supply company Viridian Energy Australia. Viridian team members traveled from the Sunshine and Gold Coasts to join us making a practical contribution carbon sequestration to protect our children’s future.

Kids having fun - 31 July 2016

And the kids were there digging in to build their own future. Kids love digging in dirt and look at the skill development! Let’s invite these future builders back for 2017 National Tree Day.

Morning tea - 31 July 2016

All that hard work deserves some tea and bikkies and time to learn about our native bees from Len Kann.

 

Ross Vasta - National Tree Day - Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve

I show Ross Vasta and his son an Acacia Falcata planted in 2015 and already flowering.

Of course events like this are not possible without the strong support we receive from our local, state and federal politicians. We were pleased to welcome Ross Vasta MP, Federal Member for Bonner and Jo Kelly MP, State Member for Greenslopes.

Ian Walker MP, State Member for Mansfield and Cr Krista Adams, Councillor for Holland Park both wanted to attend but had other prior commitments.

Event supported by:

BCC Habitat Brisbane
Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C)
Planet Ark National Tree Day
Peaks to Points Festival

supporters

An amazing event – see Stats below, and importantly it looks like 2017 National Tree Day will be even bigger with all the teams and local community members telling me they want to come back.

Stats:

115 participants including two BCC Habitat Brisbane team members

  • Three groups from 2015 returned this year, one new group and lots of locals
  • All fours groups want to return next year when I hope to hold the event at the Summit

273.5 volunteer hours

564 plants

  • 30 creepers
  • 230 grasses
  • 114 shrubs
  • 190 trees

1,600 square metres of Creeping Lantana cleared.

 

 

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By: Michael Fox

Griffith Mates Bushcare Team

Griffith Mates Bushcare Team

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Tags tell a story about participants

It’s 9am on a sunny Sunday morning and the site is buzzing with activity. Seventy-nine students and community members, representing countries as diverse as Canada and the Philippines, are working  together to build a new home for our small forest birds. The 2015 National Tree Day is our largest event on the mountain so far. A great learning experience for us and a credit to the support of our partners BCC Habitat Brisbane, B4C, Griffith Mates and the National Tree Day team.

Introducing Griffith students to Australian bush

Introducing Griffith students to Australian bush

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Laurie, Kate and I met the Griffith Mates team at Mt Gravatt Campus for a guided walk to the planting site explaining the difference between the male and female She-oaks Allocasuarina, male – flowers are russet tips on leaves, and female – flowers are red small red balls on branches. And, of course, the winter flowering Brisbane Fringed Wattle Acacia fimbriata is always popular. Laurie showed the distinctive scratches left by Koalas before Len signed the team in talked about our 1,500 species of native bees and Kate demonstrated correct planting technique.

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Ahmadiyya Muslim Association team

This planting is new initiative to create the specialised habitat our small forest birds like Variegated Fair Wrens Malurus lamberti. These small insect eating birds are valuable partners in controlling pests in our backyards but they do need habitat that provides protection from larger birds and cats. So it was a particular pleasure to meet and talk to another community group that is making valuable contributions to the environment and strengthening our community more generally. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association Australia (Ahmadiyya Jamaat) was formally established in 1980, however the relationship goes back as far as 1903 with Hassan Moosa Khan being the first Ahmadi in Australia. The local association has a strong relationship with the Logan community and we hope to build a long term bushcare partnership in our community.

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Kids love getting their hands into the dirt.

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Kids and dirt, a magic formula.

There are many different stories told in the pictures taken by Alan, Sienna and Jude, however, these really spoke to my heart. Families working together creating something for the future.

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Mark

Not just kids and dirt

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Adults also like to get their hands into the dirt. Mark is a passionate supporter of B4C restoration work and community education.

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Ross Vasta

Ross Vasta planting the future

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Our local politicians dug in as well. Ross Vasta our local Federal Member loaded mulch and planted trees with the team.

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Ian Walker MP with Alpha Phi Omega team

Alpha Phi Omega team with Ian Walker and Kate Flink

Particularly welcome was Ian Walker, Member for Mansfield, and sponsor of our initiative to publish track maps and develop interpretative signs to engage visitors to the Reserve.

Ian is pictured with the Alpha Phi Omega team and new small bird sign in the foreground.

The Alpha Phi Omega team is another interesting service group with a fifty year history of college campus-based volunteerism in the Philippines. The event really was a multinational effort to restore a unique piece of inner city bushland.

Event team (l-r) Michael Fox, Len Kann, Heather Barns, Kate Flink

Event team (l-r) Michael Fox, Len Kann, Heather Barns, Kate Flink

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Thank you all from the event organising team. Laurie Deacon not in photograph.

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

 

 

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?

 

Koala - Fox Gully - 8 March 2014 - 7-01am

Koala with brown pelt? That is different.

By: Michael Fox

Saturday morning I was preparing to lead a guided walk for students from Griffith University and QIBT when my wife, Jude, calls to tell me there is a Koala in the tree behind our house. This is exciting because I can always find a tree with scratches to show people but if I can lead these students to a Koala in the wild right beside their university campus, that will be something special.

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Griffith and QIBT student explorers

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Rainbow Lorikeets

Laurie Deacon and I are joined by ten enthusiastic participants from all over the world – Europe, China, Japan, as well as country Victoria, all keen to explore Mt Gravatt walking tracks.

Acacia Way from Mt Gravatt Campus leads along the ridge that acts as the watershed between Ekibin/Norman Creek catchment and Mimosa/Bulimba Creek catchment passing a tree with a nest hollow being used by a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus.

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Koala Phascolarctos cinereus

I was able to introduce our visitors to bush food – Native Raspberry Rubus moluccanus, unfortunately not in fruit at the moment, and Settlers Flax Gymnostachys anceps with tough fibers used by aborigines to make fishing lines.

Joining the Geebung Track we continued onto the Fox Gully Bushcare site where I explained the nestbox project that is providing breeding habitat for Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis and Kookaburras Dacelo novaeguineae.

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Mountain explorers powering up the hill

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Our friendly Koala has moved high up into the branches, however, it was still a special opportunity to show visitors one of these amazing animals in the wild, not in a zoo, just 15 minutes from the city and right beside their campus.

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Re-energised our team powered on to Mt Gravatt Lookout for a break before returning to campus.

I was particularly pleased to photograph a Spangled Drongo on the way back. We had the Spangled Drongo on our species list but no photograph.

QIBT and Griffith students are invited to join us in our bush restoration work.See Griffith Mates for events. 

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Mt Gravatt Lookout

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Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus

Click to view presentation

By: Michael Fox

The Pollinator Link concept was well received at the BCC Habitat Brisbane Citywide Meeting this week. This was an important test of feasibility as the audience included experienced BCC Habitat Offices with university qualifications in environmental science, Robert “Bob the Beeman” Luttrel and bushcare members who know the

on-ground reality of restoring our urban bushland habitats.

Backyards, parks and even unit block balconies represent habitat opportunities for our native flora and fauna. Examples include Garden for Wildlife Alice Springs, The Wildlife Trusts in UK and the National Wildlife Federation Garden for Wildlife in USA.

The Pollinator Link concept takes this a step further to focus on linking patches of bushland habitat in our urban environment.

Pollinator Link – Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve to Bulimba Creek

I developed the concept when I was struggling with the issue of creating a wildlife corridor linking Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve with Bulimba Creek via Mt Gravatt Showgrounds. The on ground reality is that any effective link through the Showgrounds would hit a wall of houses and backyards. Being able to fly, our pollinators’ – birds, butterflies and bees plus moths, insects, flying foxes, micr0-bats, capacity to cross man-made barriers like roads and fences means they have potential to make an important contribution to ecological biodiversity. My inspiration for the Pollinator Link model came from the Pollinator Pathway in Seattle and the High Line in New York.

Patch-matrix-corridor mosaic – Wellers Hill

As I researched the concept and looked for examples of potential Pollinator Link locations I realised that in some areas like Wellers Hill where there are a number of isolated patches of bushland we could go beyond linking and actually consolidate habitat within urban spaces with a little a 10% of properties engaged. Pollinator Links have potential to create urban pollinator “patch-matrix-corridor mosaic”* habitat by interconnecting patches of bushland with wildlife friendly backyards. (* Habitat Fragmentation and Landscape Change Lindenmayer & Fischer (2006))

The Pollinator Link concept passed the feasibility test now we move to implementation stage:

How would you like to be involved?

  • Identify sites to be linked.
  • Join the 2013 Pollinator Link Week

Saturday 26 December – Morning tea after a morning pulling weeds and planting at Gertrude Petty Place Bushcare. A simple happy and appropriate way to celebrate another successful year.

Our Gertrude Petty Place team have been steadily cleaning up the gullies and doing restoration planting. To October the team has put in 211 volunteer hours and planted 249 native plants most of which were propagated by the team members themselves.

Female - Spotted Pardalote - Photo A Kittila

Missing from the photo are Sheamus O’Connor who organised the Mt Gravatt SHS planting at the start of the Summit Track and Brett Dugdale – Rover Street Bushcare … and Kate Flink our wonderful BCC Habitat Brisbane Officer who was taking the photo.

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Black-faced Monarch - Photo A Kittila

It is important to note that 211 volunteer hours is only the time spent on-site. As well as that time our volunteers spend time on propagation, talking to school and community groups, applying for grant funding, preparing track guides and coordinating corporate groups like Conservation Volunteers Australia and McGregor Lions.

Others generously contribute information and photos of wildlife like the Spotted Pardalote Pardalotus punctatus and Black-faced Monarch Monarcha melanopsis. Andrea has added three bird species to our Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Reserve bringing our count to fifty one bird species in the Reserve.