By: Michael Fox

Making a new home for the family.

Sitting in the sun having breakfast I look up to see two Laughing Kookaburras preparing a new home in a termite nest high in a tree. We currently have twenty one nest boxes within Fox Gully Bushcare already providing breeding habitat for Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis, Rainbow Lorrikets Trichoglossus haematodus, Pale-headed Rosellas Platycercus eximius and Brushtail Possums Trichosurus vulpecula.

Kookaburra chicks in Boobook Owl box

The artificial nest boxes are intended to support wildlife while natural nest hollows develop in the forest. Our Kookaburras have been using an owl nest box for breeding, so it is exciting to see the termite nest is now large enough for our Kookas to create make their own home.

Male Variegated Fairy Wren

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Look for a family of Variegated Fairy Wrens Malurus lamberti playing in the scrubby habitat alongside Acacia Way. Small forest birds like the safety of tangled habitat like this where they can nest and escape from Kookaburras and other large predator birds like Pied Currawongs Strepera graculina and Kookaburras.

You can provide habitat for these special birds in your backyard by building a Habitat Tripod.

Headache Vine

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Perhaps you can grow the beautiful Headache Vine Clematis glycinoides that is currently flowering along Acacia Way.

“It is a useful climber that could be used to cover the framework of a fernery. The growth is very dense and provides safe nesting sites for small native birds.” Australian Plants Society NSW

A useful vine, as it is happy growing in shaded areas and the crushed leaves help manage headaches.

Lipotriches sp. – Solitary Bee on Dianella flower

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We also found a different solitary native bee species visiting flowers of Blueberry Lily Dianella longifolia. Lipotriches sp. do not form colonies, the individual females make nests in the ground. Native plant species like Dianella require Buzz Polination (sonicating) which shakes the pollen out of the flowers.

Native Indigo flower

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Native Indigo Indigofera australis is also starting to flower along Acacia Way. Native Indigo is caterpillar food plant for Long-tailed Pea-blue Lampides boeticus and Common Grass-blue Zizina labradus butterflies.

Native Indigo can also be used for natural dying of cloth.

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Carpet Python Morelia spilota – sunbaking

By: Barry Flowers

If you want to know anything about stalking, talk to the carpet snake and the possum outside the sunroom this morning.  Guess what, the possum escaped after the ‘capture’ from its nest (drey)! A pity that I didn’t have a video of it all, as the speed with which the snake struck was unreal.

I initially spotted the carpet snake in the gum outside our sunroom where it appeared to be sunning itself.  In time it moved across two adjacent trees moving towards the tree about a metre away from our room.  We knew that it housed a possum nest for years but we have not seen any movement within it for over 12 months so assumed it was abandoned (it is well camouflaged).

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Python vs Possum – who wins?

Then the snake approached it and within a fraction of a second had the possum within its grasp.  It grappled with it for about a minute as in the position of the final photograph but somehow the possum found its way to freedom when it dropped about 3 or 4 metres and disappeared in a hurry.

Editor’s note: Unlike, Brushtail Possums Trichosurus vulpecula, Ringtail Possums Pseudocheirus peregrinus don’t invade the roofs in our houses, they make a spherical nest or drey  from grass and shredded bark. The drey is built in a tree hole, tree fork or dense vegetation. If you have Ringtails in your area consider building a drey in your backyard.

By: Jude Fox

Kookaburra feeding chicks - 25 Dec 2013

Kookaburra feeding chicks

On Christmas Day we noticed Kookaburras making regular visits to a nest box installed for Boobook Owls. Observing from the bush track, we watched as a parent Kookaburra landed in the entry of the nest box and heard a great chattering from inside as the parent bird’s head disappeared from view.

Later, using the go pro camera we were able to observe four Kookaburra chicks inside the nest box. Inspired by this finding, on Boxing Day we decided to investigate all the other nest boxes we had installed in the gully. This yielded three Glider boxes containing Gliders and two boxes containing Possums. The Possums were in a box intended for Pale Headed Rosellas and Kookaburras, proving that Possums don’t read nearly as well as do Gliders!!!

Including the nest box that the Lorikeets have used to hatch at least three clutches of chicks that we know of, this is a usage rate of about 75%…not bad for nest boxes that have only been in place just over a year.

Glider - 26 Dec 2013 Gliders - 26 Dec 2013 crop Possum - Pale Headed Box - 26 Dec 2013 crop Kookaburra chicks2 - 26 Dec 2013

By: Michael Fox

Koala and Joey - Fox Gully wildlife corridor

Koala and Joey – Fox Gully wildlife corridor

Just this week the Southern Star reported that Koalas are fighting back and printed our map of sightings in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

Then on Friday night Matt Hill heard a scratching noise in the trees behind his deck. Thinking it was probably a possum he investigated with with torch picking up the glint of four eyes in the trees. He was delighted to find a Koala mum with her Joey comfortably nestled in her arms while she munched on leaves.

Koala sightings Fox Gully wildlife corridor

Koala sightings Fox Gully wildlife corridor

Matt and his family have been active supporters of our Fox Gully Bushcare restoration work and has been controlling weed trees, like Camphor Laurel, on his gully property. So, in December, he was proud to show me what looked like Koala scratches on a tree restored to the habitat only five years ago. This was an exciting find and now with this weeks photos we have confirmation that Koalas are not only active in the wildlife corridor but also breeding successfully. We also received another report this week of a Koala sighted high in a tree beside the footpath to the Griffith University Bus Station.

Ringtail Possum Pseudocheirus pereginus

Ringtail Possum Pseudocheirus pereginus

Restoration of this key wildlife corridor is now supported by seventeen property owners whose backyards include the gully and community members committed to restoring habitat for Koalas, birds, butterflies, frogs and native bees.

Restoration of the of the wildlife corridor is having a positive effect as shown by the number of Koala sighting as well as increasing other wildlife. At the top end of the gully, Roger and Margaret have a family of Ringtail Possums Pseudocheirus pereginus living in the top of staghorn ferns. Just before Christmas a mother with two babies on her back was sighted and Friday Margaret called to say the father had been disturbed from his staghorn nest when Roger was hosing.

Note his spiky hair and spiky attitude as he cleans water off his coat.

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Common Ringtail Possum – not that common

Please be patient with these cute creatures if they eat some of your fruit. During the 1950’s Common Ringtail Possum populations severely declined in numbers. Currently populations seem to have recovered but they are at risk of attack by cats loose at night.

Unlike Brushtail Possums Trichosurus vulpecula, Ringtails tend to avoid house ceilings, preferring to nest in trees or the tops of staghorns, so they are not considered pests in suburban areas.
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Reference: Animal Diversity Web (ADW) is an online database of animal natural history, distribution, classification, and conservation biology at the University of Michigan

By Melindi Robertson

Mt Gravatt Kindergarten is collecting specially marked Pauls Collecta Caps from milk bottle containers (2 litre and above) for a fund raising project to provide new homes for gliders.

As the land next door to the kindergarten was cleared for the new unit development on Shire Rd (going up to the Mt Gravatt Lookout); Brushtail Possums Trichosurus vulpecula, birds and possibly gliders lost their trees and therefore hollows for nesting in, and we found dead possum joeys in the playground most likely as a result of territorial disputes as their habitat suddenly shrank.

We have been collecting the milk caps since last year, to purchase and install nesting Boxes from Hollow Log Homes.  Kindergarten families are donating their caps, but if anyone else from the  local community would like to donate theirs to our association, we would be very grateful.

The entrance to the kindergarten is next to 23 Gosford St, Mt Gravatt.

With thanks from Melindi Robertson & Sue Lewin (CoDirectors)

Editor’s Note:

Melindi told me about the fund raising project when I joined a nestbox monitoring trip organised by Queensland Glider Network

Mt Gravatt Kindergarten is a valued Mountain neighbour sharing a boundary with our Gertrude Petty Place Bushcare site.

Mt Gravatt Environment Group is proud to promote this fundraising initiative which aims to restore vital nest hollows for wildlife. Most trees of Mt Gravatt Reserve are relatively young having suffered from farming and tree felling. Nest hollows typically start forming once trees are 100 years old so there is s critical shortage of hollows within the habitat.

Thanks to cartoonist and naturalist Edd Cross for the glider drawing.

Michael Fox