Sherwood Scouts - 27 May 2017

On patrol on Farm Fire Trail

By: Michael Fox

It was a pleasure to welcome the Sherwood Scouts to Fox Gully Bushcare on Saturday.

Scout Leader Kate had a range of activities prepared to build skills in reading contour maps and using a compass.

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Ringtail family - 27 May 2017

Ringtail family

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First stop was the Federation Track to see a family of Ringtail Possums Pseudocheirus peregrinus. High in a tree with strong backlighting the two adults and a joey were hard to photograph.

 

 

 

Ed checks nest box - 27 May 2017

Checking Glider box with GoPro camera

 

Scout Ed tried his hand using the GoPro camera on a pole to check one of the new Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis nest boxes.

Nest box installation is an important part of habitat restoration as till July 1893 the mountain and surrounds were designated as a railway timber reserve. My intial survey of the 2ha of Fox Gully Bushcare reflects this history with only thirty six trees older than 100 years and only five old enough to have a 50% chance of having nest hollows. Many bird species and arboreal marsupials like Giders depend on tree hollows for breeding. Nest boxes provide a interim solution for these species as the forest recovers and natural tree hollows develop.

DCIM100GOPRO

Squirrel Glider at home

The initial installation of ten Hollowlog Home nest boxes 2012 was so successful that BCC Habitat Brisbane organised installation of an extra ten boxes last year.

So it was particularly special to find our find a Squirrel Glider in one of the new boxes. Squirrel Glider are listed as threatened by Brisbane City Council and families typically use up to five nest hollows.

Brushtail - Kookaburra Box - 27May 2017

Mother Brushtail at home

With installation of nest boxes the initial one family of Squirrel Gliders has been breeding and there are now two families living in the Bushcare site. Evidence that the Gliders have now started using the new nest boxes is a sign that the population of these special creatures may expand further.

Continuing on down the Geebung Track we checked on mother Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula in the Kookaburra nest box. Mother Brushtail moved in shortly after the initial installation and has since raised at least two joeys in her home.

Returning via the Eastern Outlook Track we examined the seam of quartz rock that runs through the mountain, the natural regeneration in the area where Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses has been cleared and the Stingless Beehive Tetragonula sp. in a fallen tree.

The Scouts had a good time and we hope to welcome them back for National Tree Day on 30 July

 

 

 

 

 

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By: Michael Fox

Kookaburra box - Fox Gully Bushcare Phase 2 - 7 July 2016

Boobook Owl box

The success of the first ten nest-boxes installed at the Fox Gully Bushcare has confirmed our research which showed the lack of suitable breeding hollows in trees.

The nest-boxes were installed in October 2012 and since then Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis have been breeding and now two Glider families occupy five boxes. The first tenant in the boxes was a Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula in the Kookaburra box at the junction of the Geebung Track and the Farm Fire Trail. She has since raised two joeys and if you look into the box from the Geebung Track you will see her curled up asleep.

 

Kookaburras took over the Bookbook Owl Ninox novaeseelandiae box and have raised two clutches of chicks. Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus have raised chicks in the Lorikeet/Rosella boxes.

 

Play spot the nest-box when you walk the Geebung Track with your kids.

What species uses what box? 

Glider box - Geebung Track - 7 July 2016 lowres

Squirrel Glider or Scaly-breasted Lorikeet box

Mammals:

Micro-bats (three species identified in Reserve)

  • White-striped Freetail Bat Tadarida australis 
  • Gould’s Wattled Bat Chalinolobus gouldii
  • Common bent-wing bat Miniopterus schreibersii oceanensis

Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis

Birds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also keep an eye out for birds creating nest hollows in the trees.

Sulphur-creasted Cockatoo - clearing hollow - 30 June 2016

Just last week I photographed a pair of Sulphur-creasted Cockatoo Cacatua galerita clearing out a hollow where a branch has broken from a Spotted Gum Corymbia citriodora v variegata.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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.