Fox Gully Bushcare is a finalist in the 2011 Keep Australia BeautifulSpotless Suburbs Award.

Fox Gully Bushcare, located on the southern face of Mt Gravatt, is one of four communtiy bushcare groups working with Mt Gravat Environment Group on restoration of this unique pieces of Australian bushland.

Reaching the finals of the Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs competition is recognition of the strength of our local community, the important role of sponsoring organisations and the quality of the BCC Habitat Brisbane program.

Walking the Summit Track on Saturday I saw this extraordinary looking growth on the underside a branch high up in a Spotted Gum Corymbia citriodra.

Spotted Gums grow to 45m so this photo was taken at about x60 digital zoom on my Canon SX20. So viewing the photo later it looked like some sort of sculpture made of concrete and hung on a tree 30 or 40 metres in the air.

My excellent network of experts came to my rescue suggesting a wasp nest. Some more research on Google gave me the answer: Yellow Paper Wasp Ropalidia romandi . Links:  Queensland Museum Fact Sheet and Queensland Naturalists Club article.

I have photographed Yellow Paper Wasp for Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Reserve however I did not realise that this tiny wasp: at 6-8mm it is the smallest of our local paper wasps, builds these huge paper nests. Up to 1 metre long these amazing sculptures are made up of multiple paper combs all wrapped in a paper skin.

I found this nest while researching our new self-guided Summit Track tail brochure. If you are walking the Summit track stop at Station 6 and look west-north-west for a large Spotted Gum then follow the trunk up to the branch growing out to the right. The nest looks like a concrete sculpture hanging under the branch.

You can see the Mt Gravatt Summit Track on MapMyWalk

Our new trail guide will be available early August ready for the Environmental & Photography Workshops. The guide will also be available online and copies available at a local BCC Library.

Please join us at the Fox Gully Bushcare site for our first Environmental & Photography Workshops.

Experienced Field Botanist and local photographer Alan Moore will combine to deliver an amazing bushland experience in on the Mountain.

Book early because early booking mean there are only six places left for the Photography Workshop.

This event is sponsored by Brisbane City Council Environmental Grant scheme.

Workshop flyer – 2011 Environmental & Photographic Workshops

Bookings:

Email – megoutlook@gmail.com or

Michael Fox 0408 769 405

2:30am Still can’t go back to sleep because our visitor is exploring the deck trying to find a tree to climb down. Read about 11:40am visit.

We thought he was ok when he started to climb down on the corner post but he could not figure out how to get his butt over the projecting deck planks. Then it was exploring along the 50mm edge outside the wire … no good … mmmm …. let’s slide backwards through the wire back onto the deck. Now we can sit back and think …. perhaps the other corner post.

At this point we decided he was just going to hurt himself and we needed to move him on. So thick jumper and heavy coat to protect my arms, did I mention the claws, and thick leather bushcare gloves to protect my hands. Koalas look cute and cuddly but they must be 80% muscle, 18% teeth and claws, and 2% everything else. I had to remove Koalas from our property on two occasions when we lived at Victoria Point in Redlands City, so I knew from experience that it would be like wrestling a tiger with the bite of a crocodile.

So much growling, biting and scratching as I scooped him up, carried him through the house, downstairs and out to the backyard. Out through the fence, straight up the Eucalyptus grandis and we were able to get back to sleep.

When I checked this morning, our midnight visitor was asleep in the highest possible branch in the Grandis. He woke up for a few minutes when some of the neighbourhood kids came see then tucked his head back down and back to sleep.

Sue Jones and I (Mike Fox) attended the BCC Creek Ranger Forum today at Walkabout Creek Conference Centre. An ideal location for a workshop discussing environmental restoration, with Butcher Birds, Bell Minors (Bellbirds), Kookaburras and Whipbirds providing a background for our presenters.

The presence of Councillor Peter Matic: Chair of the Environment, Parks and Sustainability Committee, was a stong statement about the political commitment to our restoration work. However, for me Peter’s welcome was overshadowed by the welcome to country and amazing didgeridoo playing of a young nephew of Maroochy Barambah: Turrbal Association. My apologies, I did not make a note of his name, so you will have to contact Maroochy if you want to hear a didgeridoo do things I did not know was possible. I have heard about the concept of circular breathing and I have heard didgeridoos being played but not only was there no pause for breath, it sounded like two didgeridoos playing harmony!

The key note speaker was Simon Warner: CEO of SEQ Catchments Ltd, a community not-for-profit with the vision: to deliver a sustainable future for our community. It was heartening to listen to such a business-like pragmatic analysis of the issues of managing south-east Queensland growth, without destroying the very environment that underpins our business economy and the very communities where we live. Simon is very clear-eyed about about the complexity of driving change, acknowledging that the SEQ Natural Resource Management Plan is not perfect just the most comprehensive plan and targets of any region in Australia. Importantly, he recognises that plans converted to legislation are not enough, so implementation and monitoring of the SEQ NRM Plan is driven by the Chief Executive Officer’s Committee for Natural Resource Management in SEQ which reports to the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning.

Maggie Scattini, of private company Brisbane Bushcare gave a very practical presentation based on a decade of contracting in ecosystem restoration. I particularly liked the way Maggie layered up our understanding of the complex relationships starting with soil: my next article for the Southside Community News will have to be about Maggie’s insights on dirt, moving onto the role of  fungi in the forest, then fauna: apparently our glow-in-the-dark mushrooms are actually food for Rainforest Snails. Leave them to the snails, they are poisonous to people. Talking to Maggie and Bill (her husband) we discovered that Brisbane Bushcare was involved in some of the very first bushcare work on the mountain: at what is now the Rover Street Bushcare site.

The final two speakers, Adrian Caneris of Biodiversity Assessment and Management BAAM, and Prof. Carla Catterall of School of Environment, Griffith University, are both strong supporters of Mt Gravatt Environment Group work.

Mike, Sue, Adrian (L-R)

Adrian gave us a guided walk to the shore of Enoggera Reservoir where he helped us see the significant differences in  four habitat types and how that will change what fauna will use each habitat.

Adrian’s presentation then provided a valuable and fascinating insight into the equipment and techniques in researching fauna living in a particular habitat. Everything from pit traps to scats (animal droppings) have a role in identifying fauna.

Carla Catterall passion for her research is imediately apparent when she stands in front of an audience!

Carla’s presentation introduced some challenging ideas derived from research into habitat recovery after cyclone Larry in 2006, also cyclone Yasi and the floods this year. The most surprising for me was the Connell diversity hypothesis which proposes that maximum species diversity depends on some disturbance: fire, flood, cyclone.

This was particularly challenging when reflecting on Maggie’s recommendation to minimise any disturbance of the soil at our bushcare sites and Adrian’s caution to minimise any disturbance of fauna in research activities. The relationships in nature are complex and we need to draw on the expertise of the amazing people. Carla provided a valuable link to research: Griffith Environmental Futures Centre.

I was honoured to present our Mt Gravatt Environment Group vision,  to sixty members of our Mt Gravatt Men’s Shed last Monday.

The Men’s Shed is an interesting collection of retired tradesmen, professionals and farmers who share an interest in practical projects for the community, particularly focused on woodworking, wood-turning, carpentry and welding.

Over a barbecue lunch I talked with a food scientist who still does voluntary work for CSIRO, an accountant/actuary, farmer/landscaper, electrician and engineer. I was also able to demonstrate some of the specialist bushcare tools like the TreePopper.

My Men’s Shed Presentation covered our vision of a Mountain centred community actively engaged in consolidating healthy habitat areas and reducing habitat isolation with wildlife links. I also covered the threats to the Reserve:

  • Garden waste dumping: garden plants become weeds in bushland
  • Downhill mountain biking: erosion, damage to vegetation, danger to walkers
  • Feral/domestic animals: smell of dog waste not picked up keeps Koalas away

And our habitat restoration at four bushcare sites:

  • Gertrude Petty Place – over 2,000 hours volunteer contribution
  • Rover Street – Koalas and Gliders returning to site
  • Roly Chapman Reserve – looking for a new group leader
  • Fox Gully Bushcare – 2,095 native grasses, vines and trees planted

Discussion of how the Men’s Shed could be actively involved covered the potential for nest boxes and, longer term, construction of an environmental/historical display at the Rover Street bushcare site.

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“I get a real feeling of achievement when I find a new bird species on the mountain.” Sue Jones

Golden Whistler - Pachycephala pectoralis

Sue and I walked the Summit Track yesterday morning to prepare the new self-guided trail brochure. Morning is always a great time to see birds on the mountain. We were looking around to spot the Pardalote we could hear calling when we spotted this spectacular yellow, black and white bird.

Fortunately I was able to get one quick photo before he moved, so we were able to identify this as a male Golden Whistler which has not been listed in any of the species lists for Mt Gravatt Reserve. We now have forty-six bird species identified in the Reserve.

Like Sue, I love walking in the Reserve. There is always something new to find in this amazing bit of bushland only ten minutes from the city. As well as the Pardalote and the Golden Whistler, we saw a Grey Fantail and several Firetails. Unfortunately even Sue’s excellent bird imitations could not tempt the Firetails close enough for a photo, however, it did have me looking around until I realised it was Sue calling.

If you would like more information on these birds and their calls, follow the links to Birds in Backyards:

Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis – listen to call

Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus – listen to call

Grey Fantail
Rhipidura fuliginosa listen to call

Firetail or Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis listen to call

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Hon. Kate Jones, Minister for Environment and Resource Management joined us today at the Summit of Mt Gravatt to share our vision for restoration of this special part of our community.

L-R Hon. Kate Jones, Helen Schwencke, Michael Fox, Hon. Phil Reeves

Phil Reeves, local member and Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Sport joined myself and butterfly expert Helen Schwencke of Earthling Enterprises, hosted our Environment Minister.

Like most visitors Minister Jones was blown away by the beauty of the mountain which recalled her days of walking the eastern slopes of Mt Cootha as a child.

Our discussion covered everything from public toilets at the Summit, to habitat consolidation and wildlife corridors linking the Reserve with Mimosa Creek Precinct and Roly Chapman Reserve. The Minister asked about Koala sightings: Fox Gully and Rover Street Bushcare sites, also behind houses in Mountain Street. Also discussed were the species diversity with Echidnas and two hundred and fifty-four native plant species, as well as, the need for nest boxes to support Squirrel & Sugar Gliders in a forest with only a small proportion trees over one hundred years old.

The reality of flood recovery priorities means that government funds, for bushland restoration in the Reserve, will be limited in the short-term. However, Mt Gravatt Environment Group is currently revising our five-year Strategic Plan, so it was encouraging and valuable to be able to brief the Minister on our vision and plans for the Mountain habitat. The Minister was particularly impressed with our efforts to build relationships with Griffith University and corporate sponsors like ANZ Bank, which will help with some short-term projects.

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Our Vision is the first step in revising the Mt Gravatt Environment Group’s Strategic Plan.

Mt Gravatt is the heart of a special community. Indigenous and European histories both have strong links with the mountain.  Although it has been farmed, harvested for timber and increasingly isolated by suburban development over one hundred years, the mountain still supports the most amazing diversity of plant and animal life.  This ecological and cultural landmark exists just ten kilometres from the CBD of the fastest growing city in Australia.

Restoring and strengthening the ecosystems of the mountain and its corridors, will have positive community and environmental outcomes, and is increasingly urgent as the population in the area grows.  Mt Gravatt Environment Group is already working to actively engage the whole community in consolidating healthy habitat areas and reducing habitat isolation with wildlife links.

Why a whole of community focus?

Wildlife does not recognise human created property boundaries or roads. Effective habitat consolidation and linking requires co-operation of a diverse range of property owners – private, corporate, local/state/federal government, community groups, schools and university. Therefore, a key part of our strategy is to identify investments in the environment that also deliver excellent community and business outcomes.

Mt Gravatt Envrionment Group

Please comment. How can we engage the community in this vision?

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Listen to my interview with Kelly Higgins-Devine: 612ABC Drive.

See our own local Glow-in-the-dark Mushrooms.