Join Griffith Mates for the Ochna Blitz Challenge!

Saturday 24 September 8am to 11am

Map

2016 National Tree Day planting

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Location: Junction of Geebung and Federation Tracks (behind green water reservoir)

We will do a walk through the National Tree Day planting and some light weeding then move onto the Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata.

The planting site is looking great with trees and vines planted in 2015 now flowering and producing seed. A Sickle Leaved Wattle Acacia falcata is already hosting caterpillars of the Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras butterfly.

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The caterpillar is protected by “Kropotkin” ants – Small Meat Ant Iridomyrmex sp. The ants provide protection in return for sugary fluids secreted by caterpillar. Imperial Hairstreaks will only return to breed where both caterpillar food plants and the ants are present.
Kropotkin is a reference to Russian biologist Peter Kropotkin who proposed a concept of evolution based on “mutual aid” between species helping species from ants to higher mammals survive.

The combination of rain and clearing Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidensis means the Ochna is thriving and it is covered in flowers and seeds. However, the rain also means must easier to pull our either by hand or Treepopper.

 

By: Michael Fox

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Summit Track entry

Council contractors have started redevelopment of the entry to the Summit Track. The objective is to change the signage and entry to make the track more inviting to visitors.

The recycled porphyry street guttering is being used for steps will create a very attractive entry to tempt picnickers into the forest.

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Butterfly sign

Butterfly interpenetrate sign

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Once work is finished a new interpretative sign will be installed at the site.

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Dainty Swallowtail  12 Mar 2016 low res

Dainty Swallowtail on Barded Wire Grass

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The natural amphitheater created by the slope of the picnic grounds is a popular speed dating site for butterflies. I photographed a beautiful Dainty Swallowtail Papilio anactus flying around this morning. The butterfly has landed on native Barbed Wire Grass Cymbopogon refractus.

Find out about butterflies found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

 

 

Monkey Rope Vine - 17 July 2015

Vines, ferns and shadows

By: Michael Fox

In some parts of Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve you would think you were in a rainforest miles from anywhere, not in the middle of Brisbane.

One feature of the habitat is the Monkey-rope Vine Parsonsia straminea snaking up the paperbark trees all surrounded by a forest of ferns and deep shadows.

Roly Chapman micro-climate is very different to most of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve, riparian woodland with permanent water in Mimosa Creek. Paperbark trees, Willow Bottlebrush Callistemon salignus, are a significant feature in this wet habitat.

Monkey Rope Vine - close - 17 July 2015

Monkey Rope Vine

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Marshal and I discovered this massive vine once  Small Leafed Privet Ligustrum sinense and Easter Cassia Senna pendula var glabrata were cleared. The thickest Monkey Rope Vine I have found, this seems to be three or four vines that have fused together as they grew.

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Monkey Rope Vine - high - 17 July 2015

Monkey-rope Vine climbing high

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Parsonsia vines are quite aggressive growing high in the trees and even pulling large trees down.

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Common Crow - caterpillar - 11 Mar 12

Common Crow Euploea core
caterpillar

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Parsonsia vines may damage the trees however they are also a caterpillar food plant for Common Crow Euploea core caterpillars.

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Blue Tiger sex brand

Blue Tiger sex brand

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While male Blue Tiger Tirumala hamata may be seen on Parsonsia straminea vines scratching the leaves and collecting alkaloids to be converted to pheromones and stored in sex brands to attract females.

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Blue Tiger - claws 1 - 6 Feb 2015 cropped

Blue Tiger claws

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How can a delicate butterfly scratch a leaf?

Claws. Blue Tiger butterfly claws may be tiny but they are every bit as business like as their namesake cats.

Small bird planting - sign - 13 July 2015

Planning a habitat haven

By: Michael Fox

Brisbane winters are just stunning … as long as you are in the sun and out of the westerly wind.

I spent time this morning laying out the site for our National Tree Day planting. Two sets of concentric circles will create both the protection for nesting and the food – insects, nectar and seeds, required by our small forest birds.

Our two habitat havens will each be 8 metres in diameter and based on the Habitat Network model – Creating a small bird habitat haven.

The Inner Sanctum planted with Coastal Banksia Banksia integrifolia, Prickly Pine Bursaria spinosa and Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana to provide height and tangled habit that larger birds cannot get into making it safe for building nests.

How to plant tubestock

Planting guide for participants

The Protective Circle will be a thick planting of spiky plants like Creek Mat-rush Lomandra hystrix  and Saw Sedge Gahnia aspera. This habit will be attractive for lizards and butterflies while restricting access from feral cats and foxes.

The Shrub Circle will include a range of native herbs and vines with different flowering times and different colours to attract a range of insects. Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variable is a small herb with delicate flowers that Eastern Bearded Dragons Physignathus lesueurii like to eat and provides caterpillar food for a number of different butterflies.

The Eating Out planting of native grasses will provide year round food for seed eating birds like the Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis which will duck out of the safety of the Protective Circle to feed.

Thirty-three participants are registered for the National Tree Day planting so we may have a many as fifty at the event. To help us manage the work I have sourced an excellent “How to plant tubestock” guide from SOWN.

Yellow Albatross - close - 20 Jan 2015

Yellow Albatross Appias paulina

By: Michael Fox

Finding a new butterfly species in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve is special, a small surprise adding colour to your walk in the bush. The Yellow Albatross Appias paulina brings the number of butterfly species found in the Reserve to forty-eight.

Caterpillar food plant for the Yellow Albatross is the attractive Native Holly Alchornea ilicifolia.

Glasswing - 26 Apr 12

Glasswing Acraea andromacha

Glasswing - caterpillar - crop - 5 Jan 2015

Glasswing caterpillar on Spade Flower

 

Our butterfly species information has also been updated with a photo of a Glasswing caterpillar on a Spade Flower Hybanthus stellarioides.

Visit the Flora & Fauna pages to explore the amazing species diversity in the Reserve.

Orchard Swallowtail - Male - Apr10

Orchard Swallowtail – Male

By: Michael Fox

Forty-six butterfly species are found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve with a wide range of colours, sizes and behaviour.

I have been aware, for some time, of the different colours of the male and female Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus.

Orchard Swallowtail - Nov 08

Orchard Swallowtail – Female – laying eggs on lemon tree

Orchard Swallowtail butterflies are large  (male 102mm/female 108mm). However, the females are definitely the most attractive to see flitting around your citrus trees.

These beautiful butterflies are a wonderful addition to any backyard, so if you see some strange caterpillars on your citrus trees please check before you pull out the pest spray. The Orchard caterpillars will do very little damage to your trees before they metamorphosise into beautiful colourful butterflies.

Blue Tiger - male - 17 Oct 10

Blue Tiger – male – on Parsonsia leaf

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Identifying the sex of Blue Tiger Tirumala hamata butterflies is more difficult. It took a chance comment from Helen Schwencke, Earthling Enterprises, to make me even think to look for a way to identify males vs females. I had sent Helen a picture of a Blue Tiger in the winter sunlight. Helen emailed back commenting that the “male” butterfly would be collecting alkaloids from the Parsonsia leaf to make him more attractive to females.

Blue Tiger - female - 24 Aug 2013

Blue Tiger – female

Female Blue Tigers have a very similar patten of colours on their wings. When I asked how Helen identified a male butterfly just from a photo, she introduced me to butterfly “sex brands” which can be found on a number of butterfly species including Blue Tigers and Common Crows.

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Blue Tiger sex brand

Blue Tiger male sex brands circled

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The Blue Tiger males have distinctive sex brands on the hind wing.

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Common Crow - male - 10 Feb 2014 - on barbed wire vine

Common Crow – male.

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Common Crow - male - sex brand

Common Crow – male – sex brand

The Common Crow Euploea core male has a sex brand on the fore wing.

Now that I am aware of sex brands I will have to ensure all my photographs of mountain butterflies include this information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By: Mike Fox

Neighbours pitch in to clear up

A 20 metre Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis creates a lot of green waste to be chipped and cleared from the gully. Neighbours Rebecca, Didier, Don and Clair pitched in to clear up the huge pile of branches.

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Miranda, Griffith Uni Environment Law student

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A big clean-up needs a big chipper. Miranda loved using our Greenfield’s 8.5hp Piecemaker that virtually sucks the branches into the blades for chipping. Thanks to Southside Sport & Recreation Club who provided the grant for purchasing the chipper.

The Piecemaker is proving its value saving over $2,000 on the cost of removing the Chinese Elm, a benefit for our whole community, in particular restoration of Mt Gravatt Environmental Reserve.

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Miranda, Annette and Marshal hard at work

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The clean up is well on the way with Marshal and Annette (property owner) in background preparing branches for chipping and Miranda operating the machine.
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Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae

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Even the local wildlife is joining in the clean up. This Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae is hunting for worms and spiders among the leaf litter. The Kookaburras are really enjoying the restoration work as more worms, insects and spiders are thriving among the planting, mulching and logs.

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Northern Jumping Spider Mopsus mormon

It is inspiring to find the variety of wildlife returning to the gully. This beautiful Northern (Green) Jumping Spider Mopsus mormonwas hunting for flies, moths or grasshoppers for lunch. Creating habitat for wildlife means we have natural pest control and over time we will hopefully tempt some of the beautiful insectivorous birds out the forest. Birds like the Striated Pardalots Pardalotus striatus and the beautiful Black-faced Monarch Monarcha melanopsiss not only add sound and beauty to our backyards, they also hunt insects like mosquitos on our behalf.

Striped Marsh Frog eggs

Another amazing find was these eggs of the Striped Marshfrog Limnodyynastes peroni in one of semi-permanent rock pools created by the return of the permanent spring.

Striped Marsh Frogs are a native ground dwelling frog with a distinctive “toc …. toc …. toc” call. To listen scroll to Calling on the Frogs of Australia web page and click “Hear it now.”

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Red Cedar

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With the Chinese Elm down and the chipping finished we can now plant nine advanced Red Cedars donated by Dave and Liz, Roly Chapman Bushcare. Red Cedars (common name for a number of Toona species) are an attractive fast growing native that will help restore the gully habitat and privacy for the neighbours.

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Arrowleaf Violet

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The planting done on the Community Gully Day in August is now starting to create a presence in the gully.

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Arrowleaf Violet in seed

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Particularly pleasing was finding that the Arrowleaf Violet Viola betonicifolia has set seed. This pretty violet is the only caterpillar food plant for the endangered Laced Fritillary butterfly Argyreus hyperbius inconstans. Now that this Violet has set seed it will spread quickly in the gully.

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Splendid Ochre Trapezites simmomus

The Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variabile, caterpillar food for Australian Leafwing butterfly Doleschallia bisaltide, Waxflower Vine Hoya australis and Coinspot Treeferns Cyathea cooperi are all growing. The Creek Mat-rush Lomandra hystrix are thriving even with the dry weather. These Lomandara are caterpillar food for the Splendid Ochre Trapezites simmomus and Brown Ochre Trapezites iacchus butterflies as well as providing valuable erosion control in the gully.

Clean up complete in time for storms

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Finally finished clearing the branches, raking the loose leaves and putting logs in place ready for the storms expected over the weekend.

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Hollow log habitat for lizards and frogs

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Final touches … hollow logs will create safe habitat for lizards and frogs.