Louis Cheng - 1 Sept 2015

Louis planting Creeping Beard Grass 

By: Michael Fox

Louis Cheng, a Griffith Uni Environmental Science student, joined Marshal and myself at Fox Gully Bushcare today to finish spreading the mulch and plant native grasses at the small bird habitat planting site.

Planting Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus creates a cover of Living Mulch that will retain water, stop erosion, control weeds and create a micro-climate that keeps the soil cool allowing the development of a healthy soil ecosystem with fungi, bacteria, earthworms, curl-grubs and bush cockroaches all working together to renew the very foundation of our forest.

The site, planted just a month ago on National Tree Day, is already showing fresh growth with Native Sarsaparilla Hardenbergia violacea, Star Goodenia Goodenia rotundifolia, Ivy-leaf Violet Viola banksii and new Acacias all producing fresh shoots and in some cases flowering. The natural regeneration of the site is also increasing with Tape Vine Stephania japonica spreading and the Tallowwoods Eucalyptus microcorys in full flower overhead.

Spring growth - 1 Sept 2015The local fauna is also moving back into the site with Purplewinged Mantid Tenodera australasiae exploring the bushes, Australian Magpies Gymnorhna tibicen feeding on insects in the mulch and a new Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae nest hollow being excavated in a termite nest.  Fauna - 1 Sept 2015

Roly Chapman - Zone 2 - 27 Feb 2015

Restoration team at work – Liz, Heather, Eloise & Lincon

By: Michael Fox

Our Roly Chapman restoration team has made good progress clearing Guinea Grass Panicum maximum, Sword/Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia and Easter Cassia Senna pendula from Zone 2.

Natural regen - Zone 2 - 27 Feb 2015

Parsonsia vine, Creeping Beard Grass, Slender Grape and Native Wandering Jew (blue flower)

Bushland restoration can be slow as breaking the cycle of weeds retuning means removing seeds and roots left in the ground. Seed heads need to be clipped off Guinea Grass then bagged. Fishbone Fern is particularly slow as all the brown fibrous roots need to be dug up and bagged for removal, leaves can be composted on-site.

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Marshal chatting to a local Magpie

However, watching the natural regeneration of native species provides inspiration to keep going with the work. Each time we come on-site the Slender Grape Cayratia clematidea, Wombat Berry Eustrephus latifolius, Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus, Native Wandering Jew Commelina diffusa and Parsonsia vines are returning where the weeds have been removed.

Restoration of Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve will take another ten or twenty years however with the new cycle path and bridge over Mimosa Creek this is already becoming a special place to walk or cycle.

Water Dragon - 16 Oct 2014

Eastern Water Dragon

Marshal and I took at walk through the Reserve to check out the fungi that has appeared after the rain. Eastern Water Dragons Physignathus lesueurii and turtles can often be seen beside the causeway across Mimosa Creek. This morning it was just a family of Australian Magpies Gymnorhna tibicen. One Magpie was particularly taken with Marshal when he stopped for a chat.

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Yellow Fleshy Pore Fungi

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Some beautiful fungi fruit have appeared, like the Yellow Fleshy Pore Fungi with its charismatic underside with pores rather than the more common finned underside. Click on image to enlarge.

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White Mushroom fungi - 27 Feb 2015

White gilled fungi in composting weeds

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This white gilled fungi is growing out of one the weed composting piles.

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Gilled fungi - 27 Feb 2015

Gilled fungi

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Delicate gilled fungi.

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Mushroom cluster - 27 Feb 2015

Gilled fungi cluster

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Gilled fungi cluster on stick.

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Laughing Kookaburra

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While we are working we always have local wildlife visiting. Laughing Kookaburras Dacelo novaeguineae and Grey Butcherbirds Cracticus torquatus arrive as soon as we start clearing weeds exposing small insects and spiders.

Grey Butcherbird - 27 Feb 2015

Grey Butcherbird looking for breakfast

Tunks Park East Bushcare

Tunks Park East Bushcare

By: Michael Fox

Visiting my daughter in Sydney is a great opportunity to check out the local bushcare sites like Flat Rock Gully  on the boundaries of North Sydney and Willoughby City Councils. Flat Rock Creek is piped under Tunks Park creating a popular community space with children’s playground,  cricket pitches, football fields and great space for dogs to play with their owners.

Difficult bushcare

How do I reach that Asparagus Fern?

Weeds

Asparagus Fern and Mother of Millions on rock face

Tunks Park East & West and Mortlock Reserve Bushcare groups (North Sydney Council) are active restoring the along the southern side of Flat Rock Creek while The Drive (Flat Rock Gully) Bushcare group (Willoughby City) is working on the northern side.

The rock formations common in Sydney make very attractive landscape but challenging sites for bushcare.

Tunks Park East group leader Steve Miles who told me that a large  Privet grove had been the priority initially.

Nature is resilient

Nature is resilient

Steve explained that one of the key issues was that the site, like so many in Sydney, is narrow with housing right along the edge which means dealing constant reinfection with garden escapees.

However, Steve is still optimistic “Nature is resilient and just needs a chance.” Like this native fig finding any crack or fissure for its roots to get a hold. Steve explained that Flat Rock Gully is a diversity hot spot and wildlife is returning as restoration progresses. Aside from a Brush Turkey mound the team regularly sights green tree snakes, king parrots, scaly-breasted lorikeets and bandicoots are returning. The return of bandicoots is excellent news however it does highlight the need for gully neighbours and visitors to control their pets. Dogs on leash in bushland and cats kept inside at night.

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Cammeray Bridge

Bandicoots, like many of the small to medium-sized marsupials of Australia, have undergone several species extinctions and significant contractions in distribution since European settlement because of land clearing and the introduction of predators (foxes, dogs and cats) 

Other exciting news from 2014 is the new native plant nursery at The Coal Loader Sustainability Centre and a couple of sea lions sunning themselves on the shore-front rocks.

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The spectacular Cammeray Bridge with its castellated towers forms the boundary of Steve’s Tunks Park East site.

Following the tracks up Flat Rock Gully markers tell some of the European history, for example, the original Northbridge Suspension Bridge was a toll bridge built in 1889 and replaced in 1939 with the Cammeray Bridge, retaining the towers.

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Log boundary

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The bushcare teams have been active on both sides of Tunks Park with logs allowing weeds to be composted onsite.

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Creek crossing

Crossing Flat Rock Creek

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The track along Flat Rock Creek is cool and peaceful, very popular with walkers and runners. Unfortunately most dog walkers I passed ignored the many signs saying dogs must be on a leash in the bushland area. This is particularly disappointing considering the huge area of parkland just a short distance down the track where dogs are free to run and chase balls.

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Smooth-barked Apple Angophora costata

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Many of the native plant species are ones we find in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve, like Sweet Sarsaparilla Smilax glyciphylla, Tree Ferns Cyathea cooperi and Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus. There were also quite a number of species I didn’t recognise spectacular like Smooth-barked Apple Angophora costata all orange as they shed their bark.

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On-site weed recycling

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I always get new ideas when visiting other bushcare sites. One interesting idea is the separation of woody weeds from grass and soft weeds which can be covered with black plastic to compost quickly. Simple but effective. We already use black plastic but putting the woody weeds into a different pile will create good habitat for lizards while allowing the softer weeds to compost faster.

I look forward to exploring further up Flat Rock Gully on my next visit to Sydney.

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.