By: Michael Fox

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(clockwise) Mik Petter, Wayne Cameron, Ian Walker, Dr. Christian Rowan, Michael Fox, Sienna Harris

Our local MP Ian Walker gave us to opportunity yesterday to brief Dr. Christian Rowan, state Shadow Minister for Environment, about our restoration work around the mountain and the broader Brisbane catchment. We met at the Love Well Project … excellent coffee and an outstanding place to meet with a view over Brisbane City.
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Mik Petter – B4C President and Wayne Cameron – Catchment Manager, represented Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C). Sienna Harris represented Griffith Mates and Alan Moore, Photography Workshop leader, and I represented Mt Gravatt Environment Group.
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Mik and Wayne shared information on the history of Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee Inc. (B4C): established in 1997 as a community based social enterprise that provides coordination, support and specialised ecological services to protect, restore and maintain Bulimba Creek catchment in partnership with our members and wider community to build a web of green across the region.

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Particularly significant points were the business like management of B4C which complements grant funding and volunteer contribution with commercial projects across Brisbane and as far as Esk. This combination of financial strength and depth of on ground experience across both technical environmental areas and community engagement allows B4C to provide valuable support for groups like ours: technical advice, legal framework, insurance and bookkeeping.

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Explaining the value of interpretative signs.

The excellent support our five Bushcare groups receive from BCC Habitat Brisbane is complemented by B4C’s support that allows us to source grant funding for printing our popular Walking Mt Gravatt track maps and the interpretative signs which help create a real “National Park” experience for visitors to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.
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Sienna talked about Griffith Mates, a Griffith University initiative that organises events for students, including Volunteering at Bushcare. A powerful partnership we find ourselves working with students studying engineering, international business as well as the expected environmental science. Listening to students talking about home in Hong Kong or Zimbabwe, seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter.
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(l-r) Ian Walker and Christian Rowan

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Alan told us about the 2017 Photography Workshop, our fifth year helping visitors “See the forest in a new way” through the lens of their camera. Each year Alan focuses of a new theme and many participants return each year … so it is important to book early as we have limited numbers.
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Time to get the politicians out to experience this special Conservation Reserve in the middle of the city.
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I explained that the butterfly sign was positioned at the entry to the Summit Track where the natural amphitheatre creates a speed dating site for dozens of butterflies of different species.

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.

 

 

 

By: Michael Fox

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Griffith Mates Sophie, Jocelyn and Ryan with Noel

 

Our Griffith Mates partners have again provided valuable for restoration of our Fox Gully Bushcare site. At the last event for 2016 we first checked what species can now be found in the Small Bird Habitat.

Griffith Mates participated in the 2015 National Tree Day planting of the Small Bird Habitat so it was great to be able to show the increase in species diversity in just one year.

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Painted Pine Moth Orgyia australis caterpillar

The Small Bird Habitat is an initiative to create the specialised habitat our small forest birds like Variegated Fair Wrens Malurus lamberti. These small insect eating birds are valuable partners in controlling pests in our backyards. Building an effective habitat requires attracting a diverse range of insect species to provide food.

Finding several Painted Pine Moth Orgyia australis caterpillars on site is a good excellent start.

 

 

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Lydia Lichen Moth Astura lydia

We inspected the Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras butterfly caterpillars on Sickle Leaved Wattle Acacia falcata. I explained that the caterpillars are protected by “Kropotkin” ants – Small Meat Ant Iridomyrmex sp.

We also found a Lydia Lichen Moth Asura lydia with its curious eyelash like antlers.

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Sickle Leaved Wattle Acacia falcata

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Other excellent signs of habitat building progress was finding seed on Sickle Leaved Wattle Acacia falcataNative Sarsaparilla Hardenbergia violacea and Kangaroo Grass Themeda triandra which will provide food for seed eating birds.

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Ochna Blitz

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After inspecting the Small Bird Habitat progress we moved onto our Ochna Blitz. Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata is a deep rooted invasive garden plant with attractive red and green berries that are eaten by birds then spread into our bush habitat. The objective is to start breaking the weed cycle by collecting, bagging and dumping the seeds then poisoning the plant. Eradicating or at least reducing Ochna in the Reserve will take years but systematic clearing of smaller areas will progressively reduce the spread.

We look forward to partnering with Griffith Mates again in 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

https://megoutlook.org/2016/04/24/griffith-mates-lantana-busters/

Join Griffith Mates for the Ochna Blitz Challenge!

Saturday 24 September 8am to 11am

Map

2016 National Tree Day planting

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Location: Junction of Geebung and Federation Tracks (behind green water reservoir)

We will do a walk through the National Tree Day planting and some light weeding then move onto the Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata.

The planting site is looking great with trees and vines planted in 2015 now flowering and producing seed. A Sickle Leaved Wattle Acacia falcata is already hosting caterpillars of the Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras butterfly.

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The caterpillar is protected by “Kropotkin” ants – Small Meat Ant Iridomyrmex sp. The ants provide protection in return for sugary fluids secreted by caterpillar. Imperial Hairstreaks will only return to breed where both caterpillar food plants and the ants are present.
Kropotkin is a reference to Russian biologist Peter Kropotkin who proposed a concept of evolution based on “mutual aid” between species helping species from ants to higher mammals survive.

The combination of rain and clearing Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidensis means the Ochna is thriving and it is covered in flowers and seeds. However, the rain also means must easier to pull our either by hand or Treepopper.

 

Citizen Scientists checking nest boxes - 27 Aug 2016 low res

Citizen Scientists using iPads to check nest box

By: Michael Fox

On Saturday morning our Griffith Mates partners joined us at the National Tree Day planting site for some Citizen Science: doing an initial check on the nest boxes installed in July, to see if any boxes were occupied and meeting some of the local wildlife.

Carl checking Boobook Owl box - 27 Aug 2016 lowres

Carl checking BooBook Owl box

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I led the team on an off track adventure to reach the nest boxes. While Carl operated the GoPro camera on the extendable pole the ground crew monitored on iPads using WiFi connection.

Carl became a real professional keeping the tall wobbly pole under control while he lifted the lid on each box and inserted the camera.

Lantana Busters - 27 Aug 2016 lowres

Lantana Busters at work

Not surprisingly none of the boxes had been occupied in the short time since installation. However, it is valuable to get a information on how long it takes before boxes are adopted.

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Then is was back through the bush to the Lantana Busting site.

Scolopendrid centipede - 27 Aug 2016 lowres

Scolopendrid centipede – tail to left

1,600 square metres of Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidensis were cleared and raked into swales on National Tree Day. Now we are doing the detail work of clearing the remaining roots to eradicate this invasive garden escapee.

There is an amazing about of wildlife among the leaf litter as well as in the trees. We disturbed a Scolopendrid centipede which I think Baoyi wanted to keep as a pet. Be careful handling centipedes as they may bite if disturbed or handled. The bite may cause severe pain and associated swelling.

Griffith Mates team - 27 Aug 2016 lowres

Home made cakes a reward for hard work. (l-r) Sophie, Jocelyn, Harry, Baoyi, Carl, Amanda and Dana in front

Centipedes are predatory and will kill and consume a variety of other invertebrates such as spiders, molluscs, many insects, slaters and other centipedes. Prey is usually immobilised by venom injected through the fangs and then torn into pieces by the mandibles and the soft parts are eaten.

All that hard work deserves a reward. Thanks to Mt Gravatt Environment Group member Dana for the home made cakes.

By: Michael Fox
Photos: Alan Moore

Sunday morning 31 July and one hundred and thirteen volunteers have arrived for 2016 National Tree Day. So I took one team to tackle the Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses while Sue Jones organised the other team to start the planting. The teams swapped jobs after morning tea.

Lantana Busters hard at work
Lantana Busters hard at work clearing 1,600 square metres of Creeping Lantana

Creeping Lantana is a major weed threat in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. Lantana competes for native plants for scarce water reserves and nutrients, physically smothers other plant and the chemicals in Lantana have a significant negative effects on native plant species.

The Lantana Busting teams cleared an amazing 1,600 square metres with one group raking the weed into long swales to manage erosion and retain water while others followed up, hand pulling the remaining roots. I explained that once the roots are removed the Lantana can be left piled up without regrowing. Slow, detailed but amazingly effective work. I showed the teams the natural regeneration of native grasses: Pademelon Grass Oplismenus imbecillis and Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus, Tufted Scleria Scleria mackaviensis (native sedge) and Slender Grape Cayratia clematidea (native vine). Nature works 24/7 to build on our work and the forest will regenerate naturally if we clear the weeds.

Planting - 31 July 2016

Over with the planting team it was all action, lots of smiles and a big job in hand. This year the team is building on the work from 2015 National Tree Day with in-fill planting of 564 creepers, grasses, shrubs and trees to provide safe habitat and food for small forest birds, including nectar, pollen, insects and seeds. 2016 National Tree Day Planting List

Like last year, this was real cross-cultural event with the Griffith Mates Bushcare Team, Ahmadiyya Muslim Association and Alpha Phi Omega teams returning. This year we welcomed a new team representing carbon neutral energy supply company Viridian Energy Australia. Viridian team members traveled from the Sunshine and Gold Coasts to join us making a practical contribution carbon sequestration to protect our children’s future.

Kids having fun - 31 July 2016

And the kids were there digging in to build their own future. Kids love digging in dirt and look at the skill development! Let’s invite these future builders back for 2017 National Tree Day.

Morning tea - 31 July 2016

All that hard work deserves some tea and bikkies and time to learn about our native bees from Len Kann.

 

Ross Vasta - National Tree Day - Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve

I show Ross Vasta and his son an Acacia Falcata planted in 2015 and already flowering.

Of course events like this are not possible without the strong support we receive from our local, state and federal politicians. We were pleased to welcome Ross Vasta MP, Federal Member for Bonner and Jo Kelly MP, State Member for Greenslopes.

Ian Walker MP, State Member for Mansfield and Cr Krista Adams, Councillor for Holland Park both wanted to attend but had other prior commitments.

Event supported by:

BCC Habitat Brisbane
Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C)
Planet Ark National Tree Day
Peaks to Points Festival

supporters

An amazing event – see Stats below, and importantly it looks like 2017 National Tree Day will be even bigger with all the teams and local community members telling me they want to come back.

Stats:

115 participants including two BCC Habitat Brisbane team members

  • Three groups from 2015 returned this year, one new group and lots of locals
  • All fours groups want to return next year when I hope to hold the event at the Summit

273.5 volunteer hours

564 plants

  • 30 creepers
  • 230 grasses
  • 114 shrubs
  • 190 trees

1,600 square metres of Creeping Lantana cleared.

 

 

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.