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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By: Michael Fox

2014 is off to a good start. Lots of Koala sightings, including a joey which gives us two joey in Fox Gully in the last twelve months, Kookaburras hatching chicks and Squirrel Gliders breeding in our nest boxes and today a Brush-turkey chick.

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Very neat gardener – Brush-turkey pinching mulch

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Mmmm … do I like this place?

We have been watching the male Brush-turkey building his mound and playing host to visiting females since July last year. One morning we looked out to find him pinching mulch … a very tidy gardener, he neatly scraped the mulch about 4o metres from our yard to his mound and left the grass spotless by the end of the day.

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I can fly … whoops … what is that invisible wall?

We have been worried that we missed any hatching’s or that chicks had been taken by a fox or a cat. Today that changed when I walked into the lounge to find this beautiful and confused Turkey chick standing on my clean washing – fortunately just the old jeans I wear for bushcare.

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Released in relative safety of Fox Gully

I quickly grabbed the camera and recorded the visit. Obviously the chick decided the bush was more attractive than my old jeans, however, while he could fly he still has to learn about windows.

I caught him(or her) before he could hurt himself and released him in the safety of the tree cover of the gully.

I hope we have more Turkey chicks visit … perhaps outside so I don’t have to clean up the little gifts they leave behind on the furniture.

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Madeira Vine regrowth

By: Michael Fox

As we are still not allowed to work in our Fox Gully Bushcare site, Tuesday Bushcare moved to our Community Gully Day restoration site where Madeira Vine Anredera cordifolia regrowth has been prompted by the rain.

Madeira Vine is fast growing and extremely difficult to eradicate. When I was first researching Madeira Vine I was advised that digging out the tubers was the most effective technique. A special mix of herbicides and penetrant works however it has limited effectiveness and recommended practice is to: Target tubers as a priority, scrape, gouge and paint large ground tubers/roots.

Madeira Vine tuba - 5 Mar 13

Madeira Vine tuba

If we had to dig to uncover the tubers it seemed easier to simply avoid poison, dig the tubers out and remove from site. That is the practice we have been using successfully to eradicate Madeira Vine in the Fox Gully wild life corridor.  Clearing the vine, digging out tubers then targeting regrowth has resulted in large areas almost completely free of Madeira Vine.

Oplismenus aemulus - 5 Mar 13

Natural regeneration – Rainforest Grass

One of the tubers dug out today shows why this vine is so resistant to eradication with poison. The size of a large potato this tuber would not be greatly affected by poison simply applied to the vine leaves.

Eradicating this weed is frustrating, however there are also positive signs with natural regeneration restoring native species like Rainforest Grass Oplismenus aemulus and Scurvy Weed Commelina diffusa. Native grasses like Oplismenus aemulus are an invaluable restoration tool as they create Green Mulch which suppresses weeds, retains moisture and controls erosion.

By: Michael Fox

Koala and Joey - Fox Gully wildlife corridor

Koala and Joey – Fox Gully wildlife corridor

Just this week the Southern Star reported that Koalas are fighting back and printed our map of sightings in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

Then on Friday night Matt Hill heard a scratching noise in the trees behind his deck. Thinking it was probably a possum he investigated with with torch picking up the glint of four eyes in the trees. He was delighted to find a Koala mum with her Joey comfortably nestled in her arms while she munched on leaves.

Koala sightings Fox Gully wildlife corridor

Koala sightings Fox Gully wildlife corridor

Matt and his family have been active supporters of our Fox Gully Bushcare restoration work and has been controlling weed trees, like Camphor Laurel, on his gully property. So, in December, he was proud to show me what looked like Koala scratches on a tree restored to the habitat only five years ago. This was an exciting find and now with this weeks photos we have confirmation that Koalas are not only active in the wildlife corridor but also breeding successfully. We also received another report this week of a Koala sighted high in a tree beside the footpath to the Griffith University Bus Station.

Ringtail Possum Pseudocheirus pereginus

Ringtail Possum Pseudocheirus pereginus

Restoration of this key wildlife corridor is now supported by seventeen property owners whose backyards include the gully and community members committed to restoring habitat for Koalas, birds, butterflies, frogs and native bees.

Restoration of the of the wildlife corridor is having a positive effect as shown by the number of Koala sighting as well as increasing other wildlife. At the top end of the gully, Roger and Margaret have a family of Ringtail Possums Pseudocheirus pereginus living in the top of staghorn ferns. Just before Christmas a mother with two babies on her back was sighted and Friday Margaret called to say the father had been disturbed from his staghorn nest when Roger was hosing.

Note his spiky hair and spiky attitude as he cleans water off his coat.

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Common Ringtail Possum – not that common

Please be patient with these cute creatures if they eat some of your fruit. During the 1950’s Common Ringtail Possum populations severely declined in numbers. Currently populations seem to have recovered but they are at risk of attack by cats loose at night.

Unlike Brushtail Possums Trichosurus vulpecula, Ringtails tend to avoid house ceilings, preferring to nest in trees or the tops of staghorns, so they are not considered pests in suburban areas.
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Reference: Animal Diversity Web (ADW) is an online database of animal natural history, distribution, classification, and conservation biology at the University of Michigan

Sunday morning 4th December and John McCrystal and a friend were riding Shire Road to the summit of Mt Gravatt. John, a member of Team Fatboyz, was practicing for the Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer – August 18-19, 2012, he certainly didn’t expect to encounter two Koalas running down the road towards him!

Koalas travel 5 to 10km to find new home territory.

“They came running down the mountain and then starting running toward us on the road. They then froze in front of us started snorting, I think they were scared. We had to shoo them off the road. They then climbed the first tree they found.” John

John grew up on the side of Mt Gravatt and he had never heard of Koalas on the Mountain. I have heard from others that there have “never been” Koalas on Mt Gravatt and any animals found must have been relocated there after recovery from injury. This has always seemed to be an unlikely explanation because injured animals, including Koalas, are returned to locations as close as possible to where they were found.

Koalas on Mt Gravatt – What is the answer?

Southside Community News – Jan 2012

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Professor Carla Catterall, Griffith School of Environment, advises that from the 1970s to the 1990s koalas were not seen in Toohey Forest, in spite of many naturalists  walking in the forest and doing ecological surveys there.  This has been a puzzle given that Koala food trees are present in reasonable numbers.  Professor Catterall suggests that Koalas may have previously been in the forest then extirpated (local extinction) in the early 20th century.

Koala fur industry

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Hunting for Koala pelts was a major industry after European settlement. Who would want to wear Koala fur? The Koalas I have handled didn’t exactly feel luxurious and soft. Glenn Fowler’s 1993 report, “BLACK AUGUST” Queensland’s Open Season On Koalas in 1927 available at Australian Koala Foundation site, provides and insight into this unlikely trade.

‘Although (fortunately for the koala) not highly valued, the koala’s thick soft fur soon acquired the reputation as being a particularly effective insulator against the cold – ideal for protecting the human body from “the icy blasts of winter in Northern Canada and Europe”. Koala fur was renowned for its ability to withstand any amount of hard usage.’ Fowler, 1993.

For me, the really sobering thing was realising that as recently as 1927 the Queensland Government approved a six month open season on Koalas. More than 500,000 Koala pelts were delivered to market – a huge impact given the number of pelts that would have been unusable and the joeys left to starve.

Koalas returning to Mt Gravatt

Koala sightings Mimosa Creek Precinct

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Nature is now giving us a second chance with Koalas now breeding successfully in the Reserve and increasing sightings particularly around our Fox Gully Bushcare site: Mimosa Creek Precinct.

Griffith University researchers believe that there is more functional linkage between Toohey Forest and other forest areas in the western past of Brisbane than might easily be assumed: in spite of the hazards of roads. We have one sighting of a Koala successfully crossing the Motorway onramp however the recent death of a Koala hit by a car on Klump Road highlights the need for safe wildlife corridors connecting Mt Gravatt Reserve with Mimosa Creek, Roly Chapman Reserve and Toohey Forest.

Cathyrn Dexter, Griffith University, is leading a project with Main Roads Department which aims to create permeable landscapes that will allow animals to move around without having to interact with roadways: safer for wildlife and drivers.

We will draw on Cathyrn’s research as we restore the Fox Gully wildlife corridor to improve the chance for Koalas to move safely across Klumpp Road. In the short term we are working with Cr Krista Adams to have Koala crossing signs erected on Klumpp Road. While the active police presence is likely to have much greater impact on speeding, Koala crossing signs will be a valuable community education tools building awareness that nature is returning a special animal to our urban bushland environment.

I represented Mt Gravatt Environment Group at the recent Threatened Species Week event at Griffith University EcoCentre.

Click to read Southside Community News report

My presentation Blurring the Boundaries addressed our community effort to restore wildlife corridors on the southern face of Mt Gravatt. Two key corridors, Fox Gully and Firefly Gully, are almost totally made up of household blocks. To date we have owners of nineteen properties committed to restoration of these corridors.

Blurring the Boundaries refers to the fact that wildlife does not recognize human created boundaries, effective habitat consolidation and linking requires cooperation of a diverse range of property owners. Our Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan is a community initiative to blur the property boundaries by creating a vision for sustainable restoration based on initiatives that create community and business benefits, as well as, environmental benefits. Download my presentation: Blurring the Boundaries

Cathryn Dexter’s earlier presentation focused on creating a permeable landscape that will allow animals to move around without having to interact with roadways. A member of Griffith’s Environmental Futures Centre, Cathryn is the Project Manager for a major koala road kill mitigation project funded by the Qld Government.  The first study of its kind in Australia, the project’s ultimate goal is to have wildlife mitigation become standard government policy for all linear infrastructure (roads) design.

In a powerful presentation Cathryn shared horrifying road kill statistics balanced with a hopeful view of a future where roads are not barriers to connected habitat and risks to wildlife are dramatically reduced. particularly interesting were the creative solutions being used in Europe and the US where wildlife movement solutions have been actively pursued for decades.

Home to koalas, echidnas, gliders, frogs, fireflies, forty-two butterfly species and two hundred and fifty-one native plant species Mt Gravatt Reserve is a unique haven in our city only 10 km from Brisbane CBD.

I realised just how valuable this resource is when we visited Wivenhoe Outlook picnic area in Brisbane Forest Park. Approximately 60 minutes from the CBD, via a slow winding road the Outlook is still definitely worth a visit. However, even protected by 25,000 hectares of national park, the first plant I noticed when I got out of the car was the familiar Cobblers Peg Bidens pilosa, a common weed on Mt Gravatt.  Seeing this familiar weed actually gave me a perverse sense of optimism. We have similar weeds but we have a tiny fraction of the area to restore and we have a growing population, read: potential bushcare workforce, only a few minutes walk from the mountain.

Mt Gravatt Reserve is only 66 hectares however the native plant diversity is equal to 10% of all plant species in the 22,600,000 hectares of Great Britain. This extraordinary level of plant diversity is also why we have a wide range of native animal species living just across our back fences. The opportunity exists right now, to strengthen and grow something that could never be recreated in places like Great Britain or Europe.

Something truly unique to our Mt Gravatt community: waking with Kookaburras, walking with echidnas, reading by firefly light. Ok, that last one is a stretch however we do have fireflies in our gullies so keep your eyes open. Thanks to Carol Kloske for these photos of these surprising insects. Firefly Luciola nigra

Population growth is putting pressure on our natural areas and in particular the expected population growth outlined in the Mt Gravatt Corridor Neighbourhood Plan will impact on how we relate to Mt Gravatt Reserve.

How is MEG working to turn population growth into a powerful positive for Mt Gravatt Reserve?

Active restoration work:

  • MEG has four bushcare groups: Gertrude Petty Place, Rover Street, Fox Gully and Roly Chapman Reserve. For details see: 2011 MEG Calendar
  • Restoration focused on:
    • edges of the Reserve to reduce edge-effect of private gardens
    • wildlife corridors linking Reserve with other habitat

Build awareness and change damaging behaviour:

  • MEG focuses on reducing three key threats:
    • Weeds, garden waste and rubbish dumping
    • Downhill mountain biking, trail bikes & unofficial tracks
    • Feral and domestic animals
  • Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Reserve – available on CD from B4C Nursery
  • Environmental Workshop in Spring – details available closer to date

As our community members start to really “see” what is around them every day they will discover a miniture Brisbane Forest Park just over their back fence.