By: Michael Fox

Koala Phascolarctos cinereus breeding season is August to February and we already have three sighting this month, so it is a good time to remind walkers to keep their dogs on leash within the Reserve. As this sighting report highlights:

Semple1 - 14 July 2016

Koala sighted – station marker 5

“Walking on the mountain yesterday around 10.30 proved exciting: two Koalas on the Summit Track. The first was sitting in a fork directly above the 5th guided walk sign-post. The second had actually climbed down from a tree, walked along the track before climbing back up a tree about four steps from the top of the flight up the western side of  the mountain on the Summit Track, where it promptly started feeding. Two in one day really proves we have at least two koalas on the mountain! We think the ones we saw were both young.

Semple2 - 14 July 2016

Koala sighted walking Summit Track

“As an aside; the woman who saw the Koala climb down and walk the track before climbing back up had a rather large dog, firmly on a lead. We congratulated her for having the dog under control. Poor Koala would not have stood a chance had the dog been free.” Alison

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BCC information on Dogs and Koalas: identifies that Koalas are under threat of extinction. Koalas are now listed as vulnerable in Queensland under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and also in the South East Queensland bio-region under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Queensland was once home to millions of Koalas. However, the BCC estimates that now there may be as few as 100,000 left in existence statewide. Koalas were still being hunted in Queensland in the 1920s, since that time habitat clearing and road trauma have been the have been the most significant threat with dog attacks number three.

“In 1927 in Queensland, the country’s final, but highly controversial month-long hunt known as Black August, more than 800,000 koalas were killed.” Rural Weekly

Koalas are now breeding in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve so we have a second chance to keep this unique and iconic species as part of our community.

“80 percent of koalas attacked by dogs die from their injuries” Moggill Koala Hospital – cited in BCC Dogs and Koalas

Koalas live here – dogs visit  Keep your dog on leash while walking in the Reserve and help us protect and grow the Koala population.

Your dog wants to play off-leash? Visit Abbeville Street Park.

Google Map - Koalas July 2016

Koala sightings since January 2016

 

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By: Michael FoxIMG_6793

Mt Gravatt Environment Group member Morag always has hundreds of Green Tree Frog Litoria caerulea tadpoles which she shares with local children.

I remember as a child watching the amazing transformation as tadpoles metamorphose into frogs: growing legs and losing their tails before hopping out into the world.

 

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Feeding on lettuce

Freya (7) and Clementine (4) took delivery of these tadpoles just before Christmas. About seventeen in all.teen in all.

Caring for tadpoles means boiling a lot lettuce to feed them.

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19 January and legs forming

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Four weeks and transformation is underway with legs growing.

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Fish tank cleaned and with rainwater from the family tank.

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Legs growing stronger

 

 

Grown up

Time to leave home

Transformation complete, time to leave and find a new home in the gully. To date ten successful graduates, three tadpoles and two frogs in the tank.

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Frog and mower

Unexpected dangers in urban habitat

Of course the journey to the gully habitat has its own urban dangers. Scott has to be careful when mowing. He had to encourage three baby frogs to gully safety last time he mowed.

Now that the semi-permanent spring has been restored to Fox Gully repopulating with our local frog species is an important step.

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Koala - 3 May 2015

Koala visitor Fox Gully Bushcare – 3 May 2015

By: Michael Fox

We have regular sightings on Koalas Phascolarctos cinereus in the Reserve and we know they have been breeding for several years. See the 2011 report about Sparky and her joey, they live near an Energex sub-station.

What we have not yet been able to do is identify individuals. While we are getting more sightings reported we don’t know how many different individuals live in the Reserve and what area their territory covers.

Is today’s Koala visitor the same one I videoed in March grazing on fresh Tallowwood Eucalyptus microcorys in Fox Gully Bushcare?

Koala - Fox Gully - 28 Mar 2015 - J Fox

…… Female Koala – snowy white chest ……… 28 Mar 2015

One thing we can do is identify that both individuals are females. The pure white chest fur is typical of female Koalas. Males have dirty chests from rubbing their scent glands on tree bark to mark their territory.

Further research is needed to establish ways to identify individuals by differences in facial features and fur patterns.

Griffith Mates team - Fox Gully - 21 Mar 2015

Hard workers (l-r) Sienna, Lara, Indya, Dan, Alex, Shiori, Abraham

By: Michael Fox

The Griffith Mates team joined Fox Gully Bushcare again in March. It is always fascinating to have team around. I listened to two students, one from Norway and one from China, who have never met before, having an in-depth discussion of the Chinese economy while pulling weeds in the Australian bush.

Scorpion-tailed Spider - 21 Mar 2015

Scorpion-tailed Spiders Arachnura higginsi

The students are always interested in the wildlife as well. It can be checking Squirrel Gliders in the nest boxes or like this time finding an interesting spider or beetle.

Snail-eating Carabid - 21 Mar 2015

Snail-eating Carabid Pamborus alternans

Scorpion-tailed Spiders Arachnura higginsi are a curious Orbweaver spider. Female Scorpion-tailed spiders develop a long tail that can be arched over the head must like a scorpion’s attack position. This female Scorpion-tailed Spider is the first I have found in the Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve and a new addition to our Flora & Fauna list.

The team also discovered a Snail-eating Carabid Pamborus alternans which has not been recorded before in the reserve. These beetles live under logs and feed on snails and earthworms.

A great team effort … two new species found and fourteen bags of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia roots removed from site. We concentrate on removing the roots because the leaves have very few fertile leaves to spread spores.This invasive environmental weed is typically spread by dumping of garden waste in bushland. The industry website Grow Me Instead lists alternative garden plants all of which are indigenous to Fox Gully  – Gristle Fern Blechnum cartilagineum, Rasp Fern Doodia aspera and Rough Maidenhair Fern Adiantum hispidulum.

Bob Hawke

The Hon. Bob Hawke AC launches Landcare

By: Michael Fox

It was a real pleasure to watch Gardening Australia over the weekend as Costa interviewed The Hon. Bob Hawke AC about his support to establish Landcare Australia in 1989, then followed up later in the program interviewing an amazing 84 year old ball of energy, Don Wilson of Clive Park Bushcare in Sydney and founder of Bushcare’s Major Day Out.

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Click on link to watch the two segments: 25 Years of Landcare Australia

Don Wilson with Costa - Gardening Australia

Don Wilson talking with Costa at Clive Park

I met Don Wilson last year and visited Clive Park Bushcare. Don really is an inspiration. Not only is he out there pulling weeds … I hate Asparagus Fern too Don … he has also pulled together an amazing group of professionals who are behind the annual Bushcare’s Major Day Out. In 2014 BMDO has spread to every Australian state except NT with a record 58 events in Queensland.

Mt Gravatt Environment Group was not involved this year however our 2013 Bushcare’s Major Day Out – Photography Workshop was a great success with participants really starting to see the bush in a different way.

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View over Sailor’s Bay & Middle Harbour

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The Clive Park Bushcare site is worth a visit. With views over Sailor’s Bay and Middle Harbour …

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Clive Park - tree - 2 April 2013

Picnic in the park with water, trees and wildlife

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… it has some of the most beautiful picnic spots you will find in Sydney.

Click on photo to fully appreciate this majestic tree.

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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.

Federation Track sign 1 - 10 Feb 14

Federation Track – 1.9km to top of mountain

By: Michael Fox

Part of preparing an accurate and useful map/walking guide for Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve is actually walking all the tracks to check times and signs.

This week I walked the Mt Gravatt Lookout Look starting at Gertrude Petty Place I followed the Federation Track. The track leads through the Gertrude Petty Place Bushcare site where a group led by Sue Jones has been removing weeds and restoring native grasses, vines and trees.

Ironbark Track junction - 10 Feb 2014

Ironbark Track junction – link to Logan Road

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The section of the Federation Track through to the junction with Ironbark Track is very easy walking with no steps or steep climbs. The Ironbark Track currently connects through to Logan Road via the Hillsong Carpark off Rover Street. The long term plan is to bridge the gully at the Rover Street Bushcare site creating a wheelchair accessible track from Gertrude Petty Place through to Mt Gravatt Showgrounds.

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Federation Track steps past Ironbark junction - 10 Feb 2014

Track climbs to reach Federation Lookout

From the Ironbark Track junction the track starts climbing to reach Federation Lookout.

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Federation Lookout junction - 10 Feb 2014

Federation Lookout junction

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Federation Lookout - 10 Feb 2014

Looking back to Federation Lookout

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A short side track to the right takes you Federation Lookout with excellent views over the city to the east..

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From Federation Lookout the track goes downhill over grey-white quartzite. Large quartzite rocks scattered beside the track create some interesting photographic opportunities.

Scribbly Gum junction - 10 Feb 2014

Scribbly Gum Track junction – links to Logan Road at old Scout Hut

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The Scribbly Gum Track links through to Logan Road at the old Scout Hut opposite Wishart Road. You can park at the Scout Hut to walk directly to Federation Lookout. The walk is quite interesting as it crosses Jo’s Creek before climbing towards the lookout..

Scribbly Gums - 10 Feb 2014

Scribbly Gums

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From the junction the track winds though Scribbly Gums Eucalyptus racemosa one of our iconic Australian trees that look like someone has been scribbling on the bark. “That can’t be scribbling, it is right up there metres above ground.” The scribbling is the work of moth larvae feeding on photosynthetic tissue just below the epidermal cells in the tree trunk.

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Bridge - 10 Feb 2014

Jo’s Creek Bridge

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Pause on the timber bridge crossing Jo’s Creek and watch for small forest birds..

Granby Street sign - 10 Feb 2014

Granby Street junction

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The Granby Street Track leads to Logan Road via Granby Street.

Federation Greebung junction - 10 Feb 2014

Federation Geebung Track junction

The track to Mt Gravatt Outlook is a solid climb gaining 55 metres in height over half a kilometre.

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I stopped where the Federation Track joined the Geebung Track to check restoration work on the degraded weedy area beside the track.

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Indigofera hirsuta - flower close - 7 Feb 2014
Hairy Indigo – Indigofera hirsuta

I am always pleasantly surprised at the resilience of our native flora and fauna species that hang on despite massive disruption by man and weed invasion. Among the metre high Guinea Grass Panicum maximum v maximum, Cobblers Pegs Bidens pilosa and Red Natal Grass Melinis repens, I found Slender Flat-sedge Cyperus gracilis, Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus, Scrambling Lily Geitonoplesium cymosum and a healthy stand of Hairy Indigo Indigofera hirsuta an attractive native shrub which is caterpillar food plant for the Long-tailed Pea-blue and Common Grass-blue butterflies.

Blue Skimmer Dragonfly - close - 10 Feb 2014

Blue Skimmer Dragonfly

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I also spotted a Blue Skimmer Dragonfly Orthetrum caledonicum resting in the sun.

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Common Crow - 10 Feb 2014

Common Crow butterfly

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Following the Geebung Track to the Mt Gravatt Lookout I came across a number of Common Crow Euploea core butterflies performing mating flights.

Geebung Summit Track junction 10 Feb 2014

Geebung Summit Track junction

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The Geebung Track joins the Summit Track just short of the Lookout picnic area.

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Lookout picnic area

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Have a picnic with the family …

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Echidna Magic

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have lunch at Echidna Magic …

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Lookout playground

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enjoy the playground …

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Historical Societ plaque - 10 Feb 2014

Story of road builders

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or learn some local history.

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Old growth trees on steep slope

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After refilling my water bottle I returned to Gertrude Petty Place via the Summit Track which winds around the northern face of the mountain.