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

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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.

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Explaining use of Settlers Flax - 23 July 2016 cropped

Discussing Settlers Flax

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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)

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Variegated Fairy Wren - 22 June 2015

Variegated Fairy-wren Malurus lamberti

By: Michael Fox

Our 2015 National Tree Day planting will restore important small forest bird habitat. So it was a real pleasure to see a family of Variegated Fairy-wrens Malurus lamberti among the Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana growing just 100 metres south-east of the site.

This is the first reported sighting near the Eastern Outlook Track. I was not able to get a photo of the male with all his bright colours.

Variegated Fairy Wren - habitat - 22 June 2015

Small Forest Bird habitat

The aim is to create the scrubby tangled habitat where larger like Crows and Butcher Birds cannot get in to rob nests of egg or chicks.

Habitat Network has published an excellent guide for creating small bird habitat.

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Habiat haven

Griffith Mates Team

Griffith Mates Team

By: Michael Fox

A beautiful autumn Saturday morning and Griffith Mates – Sienna, Ben, Lily, Abraham and Larissa joined Roger and myself at Fox Gully Bushcare site. The team removed another large area of Fishbone/Sword Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia and installed logs on the slope to create a safe work space and control erosion.

When the team from FWR Group joined our Wednesday Bushcare in September 2010 to start clearing, the Fishbone Fern covered an area larger than the average Brisbane house block – approximately 1,000 square metres. By the time the FWR team returned six months later, in March 2011, natural regeneration had already restored a good coverage of native grasses like Ottochloa gracillima Graceful Grass. This Living Mulch of native grasses controlled erosion, suppressed weed regrowth, retained moisture and provided food for caterpillars of the Brown and Orange-streaked Ringlet butterflies.

Ben reaching Glider box with GoPro camera

Ben reaching Glider box with GoPro camera

By the time the Griffith Mates team finished another huge area had been cleared and stabilised with logs. Restoration work on the Fishbone infested areas of Zone 8 is now almost complete and with further help from Griffith Mates we expect to finish the weed clearing this year allowing nature to take over with the natural regeneration of local grasses, herbs, ferns and vines.

To finish the morning I showed the team how we check nest boxes installed to provide substitute nest hollows for birds and gliders.

We found the Squirrel Glider family in two boxes and the female Brushtail Possum is still living in the Kookaburra box. She was quite curious about the camera, reaching up to sniff the lens. It is a particular pleasure to share this wildlife experience with young people from places like Hong Kong.

 

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Count the Scaly’s

By: Michael Fox

We often have Scaly-breasted Lorikeets Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus visiting our birdbaths. However in the past it was always two or three at a time. A little smaller than their cousins the Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus these cute birds with their flashing orange under-wings flock with the Rainbows.

Scaly’s are often out competed for nest hollows by their larger cousins. So it was a real pleasure to see at least eight, I had trouble counting as they flitted around, having fun in the water today.

Water for wildlife is really important in the current dry spell we are having in SE Queensland and we are rewarded by a constant stream of colourful visitors.

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Scaly-breasted Lorikeets

 

Kookaburra family - 15 Feb 2014

Kookaburra parents with three juveniles

By: Michael Fox

Just a few minutes ago I heard a couple of loud thumps on the large glass doors at the back of our house. On investigating I found a young (must be young to be so foolish) Kookaburra, sitting on the fence looking very shaken. It seems that flying into the glass once was not enough; it had to have a second go.

Just beyond the fence was the rest of the family sitting in the waiting tree above the bird baths. I have been refilling the bird baths twice a day this week as the dry weather drives our wildlife to look for water.

The Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) parents hatched four chicks in the Boobook Owl nest box over Christmas. Only three chicks survived the fight for survival to become fledglings. It is good to have the family visit regularly.

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18 January – three fledglings ready to leave home

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Ochna removed with Tree Popper

By: Michael Fox

Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata is one of the most difficult woody weeds to remove or even poison.

One of our key Bushcare tools, the Tree Popper is an ideal weapon to attack Ochna and no poison required.

Ochna bushes commonly have extraordinarily deep tap roots out of proportion to the size of the bush. This Ochna removed at Fox Gully Bushcare is an excellent example – a thick 60cm tap root hidden under a tiny bush.

The Tree Popper is an excellent tool for Bushcare work however best results are obviously achieved when the ground is soft after rain.