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.

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Griffith Mates (l-r) Laura, Lothar, Vikram, Sienna and Herman

By: Michael Fox

The Griffith Mates team helped us reach an important milestone last week. The final stage of a five year project was reached as the last patch of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia has been cleared at our Fox Gully Bushcare site Zone 13.

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Fishbone jungle - 11 May 2013

Lost in Fishbone jungle

A team from FWR Group started the daunting task of clearing the Fishbone jungle from the gully.

In its natural environment, Fishbone Fern is usually found growing in rocky areas, on rainforest margins, or as an epiphyte on palm trees in the wetter parts of tropical and sub-tropical Australia. (Weeds of Australia)

CVA team Fox Gully - 22 May 2013 2

Conservation Volunteers (CVA) team

In urban areas where Fishbone Fern has been cultivated as a garden plant it has escaped into remaining patches of bushland crowding out indigenous species. Six species of native fern are indigenous to the Fox Gully habitat. Removal of the weed is allowing natural regeneration of indigenous grasses, ferns and vines.

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Removing Fishbone Fern is a time consuming job so the support of a team from Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) was a major boost for the project.

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White-banded Plane -25 Apr 2015

Common or Varied Eggfly Hypolimnas bolina

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It is a particular pleasure to welcome Griffith Mates back as they always have a great interest in our local wildlife. They even insisted on walking through the forest from Mt Gravatt Campus.

So it was good to be able to show this perfect specimen of Common Aeroplane Phaedyma shepherdi butterfly posing on a Spotted Gum Corymbia citriodora.

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Squirrel Glider - 25 Apr 2015

Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis

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We finished the morning by checking the nest-boxes introducing our visitors to some of our cutest wildlife.

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Magnified Native Cherry

“That is a tiny flower.” Photo: Herman Kai

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And Australia’s smallest flower on Native Cherry Exocarpos cupressiformis. Looking for flowering bushfood trees is difficult when you need to carry a magnifying glass.

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.

Pied Butcherbird - 15 Oct 2014

Pied Butcherbird (adult)

By: Michael Fox

Marshal’s brother Dennis joined us at bushcare today.

We were also joined by a family of three Pied Butcherbirds Cracticus nigrogularis, a parent and two juveniles, as well as two Laughing Kookaburras Dacelo novaeguineae.

We were clearing Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia and disturbed a number of Centipedes Cryptops spinipes. This made us very popular with our bird visitors.

Kookaburra - 15 Oct 2014

Kookaburra with blind snake

It was fascinating to watch the Butcherbirds beat the slower moving Kookaburras. I tossed one Centipede to a juvenile Butcherbird which quickly snatched it up and flew off just before a Kookaburra landed on the same spot.

Marshal and Dennis - 15 Oct 2015

Marshal and Dennis – productive team

The Kookaburras did have some success. This one caught what looks like a blind snake, possibly a Common Eastern Blind Snake Ramphotyhlops nigrescens which has been found in the area (Catterall & Wallace (1987) An Island in Suburbia). Blind snakes are non-venomous and harmless, living in soft surface soil and debris typically feeding on small ants.

The Mt Gravatt Bush Men had a great afternoon of tall tales and laughter. We even managed to clear a lot of weeds, collecting six bags of Fishbone roots, a bile of compost and Marshal used the Treepopper to remove another sixteen Ochna bushes.

 

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Griffith Bush Care Team

By: Michael Fox

Reviewing the photos preparing to write this blog it was like being there all over again. The laughter, the smiles, the generosity, the sharing of stories about families and different countries … it was one of the most inspiring bushcare events I have attended.

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Bamboo Team in action

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Bamboo roots grubbed out for disposal

Working on the “Bamboo Team” I learned about the different qualities of bamboo and the preferences of Pandas for the tender new shoots. I heard the story of a person so inspired by their Chinese school principal father that they followed their undergraduate business degree with a PhD focused on education so they can give back to their community with education. I talked with a student that is studying international relations and shared his vision of how his career could go in directions directions ranging from trade negotiations to more general diplomatic work, all of which will clearly be underpinned by an intelligence and  compassion that gives me hope for future global relations.

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Walking through the Sagano bamboo forest, in Arashiyama, Japan, was a special experience. A bamboo is forest is beautiful and peaceful producing strong versatile valuable wood. However bamboo does not belong in the Australian bush. Once established in the Reserve the bamboo spread and over a huge area crowding out native plants and making monoculture so thick it was impenetrable to wildlife. Removing bamboo is a hard work as all the roots have be dug out by hand for disposal off-site.

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Fishbone Team starts at bottom of slope

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The “Fishbone Team” worked to clear a huge area of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia on the slope. Working from the bottom the team removed the weeds and placed logs to stabilise the slope and provide access.

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Weilding the sledge - 24 Aug 2013

Banging in stakes to hold logs

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Bushcare participants get to do a bit of everything at Fox Gully. Wielding a sledge hammer is change from writing assignments.

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“Thanks for helping me find a feed.”

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They even met some of the local wildlife. The male Brush-turkey Alectura lathami was working on his nest mound when the team arrived. Then one of the local Kookaburras came to visit looking for a feed in the area that has been cleared.

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Huge area cleared of Fishbone and logs in place

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Morning tea time and we have achieved an amazing amount of valuable restoration work. The Fishbone Team has cleared a huge area on the slope and installed logs to manage erosion and allow safe access.

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Composting weeds

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A large pile of Fishbone leaves have been added to the compost pile and sixteen garbage bags have been filled with the roots of Fishbone and bamboo.

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Looking for lunch

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The Kookaburra has come back to inspect the results and look for lunch …

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Catching a fat spider for lunch

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Spotting a nice fat Huntsman spider he flies down right among the team, snaps the spider and flies off again.

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Mirandha hamming it up for the camera

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At the finish shaking each person’s hand and thanking them for their contribution was a real pleasure and a singular honour. However, I must acknowledge Mirandha Escott-Burton whose vision and persistence has created the Griffith Bush Care  which is becoming a valuable source of volunteers supporting our restoration work and providing a real Australian bush experience for international students.

Mirandha is building a partnership between Griffith University Student Linx and Mt Gravatt Environment Group.

CVA team - 22 May 2013

CVA volunteers with Kookaburra supervisor

By: Michael Fox

Conservation Volunteer Australia (CVA) teams worked at our Fox Gully Bushcare site the last two Wednesdays, restoring the silt filters along the track, removing a huge area of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia.

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Silt filters - 22 May 2013

Mulch silt filters clean run-off water

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Reducing erosion and keeping silt our of our waterways is an important part of our bushcare work. Silt filters created with logs and mulch at run-off points along the dirt maintenance track slow the water and allow silt to settle out. The filters have done an excellent job managing the extreme conditions over the last few years however they needed to be made more permanent with logs and fresh mulch.

Removing Fishbone - 29 May 2013

Chris, CVA supervisor (orange vest), explaining best-practice weed removal

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The CVA supervisors are very professional, delivering their team, ensuring they have all the necessary safety equipment then providing practical support and guidance. Chris is reinventing his career as a recent mature age graduate from Queensland University, so he combines strong environmental knowledge with practical work experience. Here he is explaining our best-practice procedure for clearing Fishbone – tear off and bin the roots then the leaves are composted on-site.

Internet Generation meet Australian bush

Gen Y meet Australian bush

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I often hear people comment that young people today a don’t have the same commitment we Baby Boomers demonstrate. So it is a real pleasure to have the opportunity to work with individuals like the young Korean girl not only on a working holiday in Australia bur also volunteering to restore our Conservation Reserve.

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Camphor Laurel and Chinese Elm removed

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The CVA teams made a major contribution progressing our restoration of Zone 13. Clearing the Fishbone Fern so the native grasses and ferns return to the gully.

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Bags of Fishbone roots ready for removal

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By: Michael Fox

Jonny and James (top) clearing weeds and installing habitat

Restoration of Zone 13 is now expanding to include Zone 8 with the Fishbone Fern being cleared from the slope and our Griffith University team install old railway sleepers to stabilise the slope, improve access and provide habitat.

The pile in the foreground is composting weeds. Our best-practice approach means that we recycle 80% of the weeds on-site, reducing workload and fuel used in removing weeds from site while retaining valuable nutrients.

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FWR Group starts restoration – Sept 2010

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Zone 13 restoration started in September 2010 with the FWR Group corporate team.

We considered using poison to clear the massive Fishbone infestation. However an on-ground survey found four local fern species surviving among the weeds. Rather than risk losing the surviving specimens we started the

Restoration progress – Sept 2012

slower but, long term, more effective manual removal of the weeds.

Two years and we are past half way. There is still a lot of weed removal to be done but nature is working with us with natural regeneration restoring the native grasses, lomandras, Scrambling Lily and Soapy Ash.

We have achieved a dramatic

No CCA poison – just lots of holes for hiding

reduction in resources required with no new plants or mulch required to achieve this result.

I am particularly proud of our latest initiative, reusing old hardwood railway sleepers – remains of steel spikes can still be seen. Roger, one of our gully neighbours recently replaced a retaining wall built about thirty years ago with second hand railway sleepers. Our fit young Griffith students pitched in loading the sleepers into Roger’s ute and then carrying them down to our work site. Rather than going to landfill we are reusing these sleepers to stabilise slopes and improve access for restoration work.

The sleepers are a particularly valuable resource because they have NOT been treated with copper-arsenate which would kill the wildlife we are working to restore. The solid hardwood has survived insect attack well with softer timber eaten away leaving hollows and cracks providing invaluable habitat for the many species of insects and lizards vital to the health of our bushland. A key finding of last-year’s BAAM report was the lack of fallen timber so these sleepers are addressing that issue.