By: Michael Fox

Clairvaux Bushcarers - 14 May 2018

Clairvaux Bushcarers

Our new partnership with Clairvaux MacKillop College is off to a great start. Clairvaux Bushcarers joined us last Monday to help prepare the 2018 National Tree Day site.

The team worked so hard removing weeds and moving branches to make the site safe, our Tuesday Bushcare group was able to finalise the preparation ready for spreading mulch.

 

Proud Weed Busters - 14 May 2018

Proud Weed Busters

It was a real pleasure to work with the students, a bit like herding cats, but still a real pleasure.

Over fifty years ago Frederick Herzberg identified recognition and a sense of achievement as two key factors in helping individuals build their motivation. Watching the students’ level of engagement and energy grow as they worked was an excellent example of Hertzberg’s research in action.

Variable Ladybird Beetles - Coelophora inaequalis - 14 May 2018

Variable Ladybird Beetle

Removing huge clumps of Guinea Grass Megathyrsus maximus really does provide a great sense of achievement and by removing and bagging the seed heads dramatically reduces weed regrowth.

The Clairvaux Bushcarers also had a wonderful time finding “bugs” for me to photograph. Like this Variable Ladybird Beetle Coelophora inaequalis.

26-spotted Potato Ladybird - Epilachna vigintisexpunctata - 14 May 2018

26-spotted Potato Ladybird

 

The students also found  26-spotted Potato Ladybird Epilachna vigintisexpunctata which is a new addition to our Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

 

 

Variable Ladybird Beetles - Coelophora inaequalis - larve - 14 May 2018

Variable Ladybird Beetle larvae

 

 

I was also able to introduce the students to the strange looking Ladybird Beetle larvae.

 

Variable Ladybird Beetle Coelophora inaequalis larvae.

Common Spotted Ladybird - Harmonia conformis - larva - 14 May 2018

Common Spotted Ladybird Beetle

 

 

 

Common Spotted Ladybird Beetle Harmonia conformis larvae.

 

Common Assassin Bug - Pristhesancus plagipennis - 5th Instar - 14 May 2018

Common Assassin Bug 5th Instar

 

 

 

 

 

Common Assassin Bug Pristhesancus plagipennis 5th Instar. As the name suggests Assassin Bugs are pest controllers for your garden feeding on spiders and other insects.

Common Methana - Methana marginalis - large nymph - native cocoroach - 14 May 2018

Common Methana

 

 

 

 

Common Methana Methana marginalis large nymph. A native cockroach, the Common Methana are great recyclers turning leaves into soil and food for lizards and birds.

Bark Cockroach - Laxta sp. - 14 May 2018

Bark Cockroach

 

 

 

 

 

Bark Cockroach Laxta sp. are another curious native cockroach working hard to recycle leaf litter.

 

 

Yellow-shouldered Stout Hover Fly - Simosyrphus grandicornis - 14 May 2018

Yellow-shouldered Stout Hover Fly

 

 

 

 

Yellow-shouldered Stout Hover Fly Simosyrphus grandicornis 

 

 

Clairvaux Bushwalkers - Weed Busting - 10 May 2018

Creeping Lantana

 

 

 

 

The Clairvaux Bushwalkers helped the previous week, removing Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses* (the asterisk * is used to identify non-native species).

 

Small Dusky Blue - Candalides erinus - topside - 10 May 2018

Small Dusky Blue butterfly feeding

 

 

 

 

 

Small Dusky Blue Candalides erinus butterfly feeding on nectar from the flower of a Purple Fleabane Cyanthillium cinereum. Look for the proboscis: a hollow drinking straw the butterfly unrolls. Natives like the Purple Fleabane are returning as Creeping Lantana is removed.

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday we hosted the Clairvaux Scientists who checked water quality in Mimosa Creek.

 

 

 

Checking acidy - 18 May 2018

Acid Test

 

 

The water sample was then tested with litmus paper which established a healthy neutral water.

 

 

Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly - Orthetrum villosovittatum - 18 May 2018

Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly

 

 

We also spotted a new dragonfly species to add to the species list. Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly Orthetrum villosovittatum

 

Thank you to all the Clairvaux students and staff.

I am looking forward to growing a long partnership restoring Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve and learning environmental skills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

 

By: Michael Fox

Photos: Andreas Listle

A beautiful Saturday morning and I met up with an inspiring group students for our regular Griffith Mates OWeek guided walk in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. I vary the walk each time to highlight plants in flower and other special sights and sounds. A highlight this time was meeting Ma Poss (Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula) and her joey. (Baby possums are called ‘joey’.)

 

Checking nest box - collage - 28 Oct 2017

Checking nest box with GoPro and excited students watching on the iPad

 

 

 

Meeting at Mt Gravatt Campus the Griffith Mates team introduced students from Germany, South America, China and Japan all keen to learn more about the Australian bush.

The students were very interested in learning about our native ground orchids: Slender Hyacinth Orchid Dipodium variegatum.

Mycoheterotrophy-NewI explained that, lacking any leaves, these orchids are critically dependent on their relationship with fungi in the ground.  The fungi mycorrhiza, fine root like fibres, feed the underground orchid with organic carbon and minerals collected from roots of adjacent trees.

 

These native orchids cannot survive if removed from the bush as they are totally dependent on their relationship with the fungi.

 

 

 

Along Acacia Way we looked at the unusual Bottle Brush Grass Trees Xanthorrhoea macronema in flower. Looking closely we found Stingless Native Bees (Tetragonula sp.) collecting pollen and nectar.

 

Pardalote sign

Pardalote interpretative sign

 

 

Bird song is an important part of any walk in the Reserve.


Blueberry Lily berries
The QR code on the Pardalote interpretative sign linked to a video of a Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus singing. I introduced the group to the iconic and cheerful song of the Laughing Kookaburras Dacelo novaeguineae

 

Blueberry Lily - 28 Oct 2017 lowres

Blueberry Lily fruit

 

Along Acacia Way we found Settlers Flax Gymnostachys anceps: used by early settlers to sew bags and indigenous people combined it with bark to make fishing line, Blueberry Lily Dianella longifolia and Native Raspberry Rubus moluccanus.

 

Collage 2 - 28 Oct 2017

Leading guided walks with Griffith Mates is always a pleasure … lots of smiles and laughter along the Eastern Outlook Track.

 

Nat Tree Day 2016 planting - 28 Oct 2017 lowres

2016 National Tree Day planting

 

 

A quick stop to inspect results from the 2016 National Tree Day planting: thickening nicely and some trees over 3 metres.

 

 

Curculigo ensifolia - flower - 31 Oct 2017 lowres

Curculigo ensifolia flower

 

Last stop was the 2017 National Tree Day site.

I showed the natural regeneration in the area where the invasive weed Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses was cleared as part of National Tree Day. Nature is very resilient if we give it a chance and the returning natives are strong evidence of the effectiveness of our Bushcare work.

Vicent and tree - 28 Oct 2017 - lowres

Vincent and his tree

 

Vincent took the opportunity to check in on the tree he planted on National Tree Day.

 

 

 

Griffith Mates ... the end - 28 Oct 2017A great walk … everyone seemed to be inspired to return and help with our Bushcare work.

Thanks to Andreas Listle for staying behind the camera and capturing memories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Michael Fox

Compost pile Creeping Lantan - 15 Aug 2017 lr

Creeping Lantana removed into piles

The old car park area will be restored as the 500 plants mature and spread.

Nature will now take over natural regeneration of the 500 square metres of Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses* cleared by the Lantana Buster Team on National Tree Day.

Seed stock of native grasses like Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus will still be in the soil and with the Lantana not suppressing regrowth the grasses will return with the summer rain.

Griffith Mates - 25 April 2015

Griffith Mates clear the last weeds

 

The work of our Griffith Mates partners shows the effectiveness of natural regeneration techniques. The team removed the last Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia* from Fox Gully Bushcare Zone 8 in April 2015. Note the bare ground.

 

 

Graceful Grass - Ottochloa gracillima - 14 Aug 2017

Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillima

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 2017 and Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillima is returning naturally. Second hand decking timber is reused to manage erosion on the steep slope and collect leaf litter to retain moisture.

 

Shelter for lizards - 15 Aug 2017 lr

Lizard highways

 

 

 

Providing Shelter for wildlife helps nature bring the wildlife back to the site.

The piles of fallen branches are restored to the site to create lizard highways across the areas cleared of Creeping Lantana.

Eastern Bearded Dragon - Pogona barbata - 1 Aug 2017

Eastern Bearded Dragon Pogona barbata

 

 

 

Lizards like this young Eastern Bearded Dragon Pogona barbata are at risk crossing the bare weed-free ground. Creating lizard highways allows these cute creatures to stay safe while they hunt for lunch.

Team 1 July 2017

Griffith Mates Bushcare Team

By: Michael Fox

Our Griffith Mates partners were back today, again led by Sienna Harris, Griffith University Ecological Science student.

 

Rainbow Lorikeet - 22 July 2017 low res

Rainbow Lorikeet checking nest hollow

 

 

 

Koala scratches - 22 July 2017 low res

Koala scratches

 

Just before the Team arrived I spotted a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus checking out a tree hollow as a potential nest sight.

International students are always interested in our wildlife and they loved the bright coloured Rainbows. Rainbow Lorikeets are thought to mate for life (like most parrots) pairs preen and nibble each other during rest periods.

 

I was also able to point out a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita high in the top branches of a eucalypt. It was high up but hard to miss because of its loud screech.

We also looked at Koala scratches on a Queensland Blue Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis.

 

 

 

Lantana Busters at work - 22 July 2017 low res

Lantana Buster Team

 

 

Lantana Buster - 22 July 2017 low res

Weeding is fun

 

 

We then split into two groups:

  • Sienna leading the Lantana Busters
  • I went with the Log Team.

The Lantana Busters worked on clearing the invasive Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses by rolling it up into swales across the slope retain water and reduce erosion by slowing water flow.

Pulling weeds may not sound exciting but there are always lots of smiles.

Hand saw team - 22 July 2017 low res

We can use a hand saw!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Griffith Mates always love to learn new skills, like using a hand saw …

Ochna buster - 22 July 2017 low res

Look at me! I pulled this out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… and pulling deep rooted Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata with the specialist TreePopper bushcare weeding tool.

The Treepopper allows almost anyone to pull difficult weeds by clamping jaws around the trunk then using the leverage of the long handle to slowly pull the deep roots without breaking.

 

Burtons Legless Lizard (Lialis burtonis) - 22 July 2017 cropped

Burtons Legless Lizard Lialis burtonis

 

 

 

 

 

Even finding what she thought was a snake did not spook one of the Lantana Busters. Everyone gathered around, even the log moving team, to inspect what Sienna identified as a Legless Lizard. The lizard was very cooperative and hardly moved while dozens of photos recorded our unusual wildlife.

 

 

How do we move that - 22 July 2017 low res

Mmm … a bit heavy for one of us to lift

The Log Team were also learning new skills.

Brains over brawn - 22 July 2017

Cross beams allow a team lift

This team are all from China and studying microbiology at Griffith University. So they loved the challenge of learning the power of applying more brains and less brawn. None of the team had used ropes before. However, they caught on fast, using a branch as a lever lift the log to get the rope underneath before learning to tie a knot that would not slip.

 

Brains win over brawn. Using two hardwood cross beams a log too heavy for one person can be carried by a team of six. Still hard work and slow going but achievable.

Team Success - 22 July 2017 low res

Team success!

 

 

 

 

The log is in place across the slope and nestled into the mulch so it will not move.

And they were very proud of themselves.

Well done team!

We finished up with a short guided walk inspecting the 2016, 2015 and 2014 National Tree Day planting and explaining the role of nest boxes providing shelter for Squirrel Gliders, Rainbow Lorikeets and Kookaburras.

 

 

 

By: Michael Fox

Our Griffith Mates partners returned in March to continue their work clearing Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses. The Mates started clearing the Lantana in September 2015 and they were very happy to see the native grasses, sedges and vines returning where the weeds had been cleared.

I love having Griffith Mates onsite … there is always a lot of discussion and laughter. This time  put the team to work on clearing Lantana regrowth. This is real get on your hands and knees detail work … not as exciting as the mass clearing done at past events so I was not sure how these young people would go. I should not have worried, as always the Mates amazed me with their commitment and the quality of their work.

Lantan Buster Blues Bros 25 Mar 2017

Blues Brothers at work

The Mates even take having fun to whole new levels. These two were bouncing off each other so much I had to introduce them to the Blues Brothers movie.

Lantana Buster Teacher in Action - 25 Mar 2017

A born teacher at work

I have rarely seen someone take such simple pleasure in teaching new skill … in this case how to remove Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata with the Treepopper.

Lantana Buster Team - 25 Mar 2016

Seventeen Mates, forty hours Lantana Busting. Thank you Griffith Mates.

 

 

Griffith Mates -  23 July 2016

Griffith Mates Partners

By: Michael Fox

Photos: Kate Flink

OWeek Semester 2 2016

It is always a pleasure to lead a guided walk with our Griffith Mates partners, sharing some of the surprising relationships between different plants and between plants and the animals that depend on them for food and shelter.

Many of the students who join the walk are international so it is a great opportunity to introduce these visitors to our unique bushland. Unfortunately no Koalas spotted this time.

Handout pic

 

Walking Acacia Way we discussed the importance of tree hollows for nesting and the curious Allocasuarina: male trees have russet (red-brown) flowers on tips of leaves and female trees have red ball flowers growing directly from the branches.
Pardalote sign

.

.

.

.

.

Stopping at the interpretative sign I used the QR code to bring up the online video of a Striated Pardalotte Pardalotus striatus with its “chip-chip” call on my iPhone. As soon as the birds high in the trees head the call they started to respond with their own calls.

.

.

Explaining use of Settlers Flax - 23 July 2016 cropped

Discussing Settlers Flax

.

Settlers Flax Gymnostachys anceps has an interesting history of use by indigenous people and white settlers:

“Fibres were used to make fishing line. There are records of use as string by Europeans (to bind and carry pigs by the feet).” Save Our Waterways Now (SOWN)

.

.

After visiting Fox Gully Bushcare site we spent time clearing Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Michael Fox

Creeping Lantana - Lantana montevidenses - 23 Apr 2016

Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses

Griffith Mates joined me at Fox Gully Bushcare on a beautiful fine Saturday morning to work as Lantana Busters. Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses is one of our major weed threats in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. Lantana competes for native plants for scarce water reserves and the chemicals in Lantana have a significant negative effects on native plant species.

.

Griffith Mates - Lantana Busters - 23 Apr 2013

(l-r) Sophie, Lifen, Noe – proud of their work

Removing Creeping Lantana is detailed work requiring team members to get down and pull the roots of individual plants. Fortunately the Griffith Mates team were patient and through leaving the area spotless.

As always, it was fascinating to talk to the students about home towns in Japan and China, catching up with one of my old Management Concepts students or hearing about intern experience with KPMG in Korea.

Koala - Phascolarctos cinereus - 23 Apr 2016

Koala high in tree on Federation Track

.

Outstanding effort deserves a reward, so we headed off down the Federation Track to find a Koala Phascolarctos cinereus in the wild. The track down towards Granby Street is a reliable place to spot Koalas. Sophie was first to spot a Koala high in a Tallowwood Eucalyptus microcorys.

SONY DSC

Joseph’s Coat Moth Agarista agricola – Photo: K. Sinigaglia

.

 

.

We also spotted a brightly coloured Joseph’ Coat Moth Agarista agricola flying around a large clump of Forest Grape Cissus opaca an important caterpillar food plant for this amazing moth.

.

Brown Ringlet - Hypocysta metirius - 23 Apr 2016

Ringlet butterfly

.

.

We also found a Ringlet butterfly Hypocysta sp. which depend on Poaceae (grass) species for caterpillar food.

The work of the Lantana Busters clearing the weeds will allow regeneration of important butterfly caterpillar food like Forest Grape and native grasses.

Every visit of our Griffith Mates partners strengthens the habitat for all our native species.