Griffith Mates Team in action

By: Michael Fox

Welcoming our Griffith Mates Bushcare Team back on Saturday was a real pleasure for me.

Young an energetic is obvious. What always blows me away is the diversity of study areas … nano-technology, business, education and of course environmental studies: undergrad and masters levels, and the diversity of family heritage with students from East Timor, Malaysia and PNG.

The Team worked with me clearing weeds: Guinea Grass Megathyrsus maximus var. maximus, Cobblers Pegs Bidens pilosa and Perennial Horse Gram Macrotyloma axillare var. axillare.

Congratulations Team. Great to have you back!

Saturday’s job was site prep for this year’s National Tree Day planting which will restore the missing mid-story habitat so vital for birds, butterflies and bees.

First step in preparing for our yearly planting clearing the site and the Team removed fifteen bags of weeds.

And we have found a couple of new Koala spotters … one was in a tree just above where we were working and another was spotted beside the track up to the Summit.

Thank you to our Griffith Mates partners. Together we are making a difference.

By: Michael Fox

One of my real pleasures with Bushcare is sighting wildlife to add to add to our Flora and Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

Today’s special find is a Swamp Wallaby Wallabia bicolor. For years I have been getting reports of wallabies in the Reserve and Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve across Klumpp Road. So it was a particular pleasure to sight this visitor this morning while doing Bushcare near our 2018 National Tree Day planting.

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See a small cloud of Dainty Swallowtails Papilio anactus doing a bit of speed dating in the sun above our National Tree Day planting was very special.

I had to wait patiently till this cute specimen decided to pose for me.

Dainty Swallowtail caterpillars like Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus feed on our backyard citrus. So please be patient with your caterpillar friends who will only eat a few leaves and reward you with beautiful new butterflies to brighten your garden.

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One of the curious creatures we found is a Wattle Notodontid Moth Neola semiaurata caterpillar. When disturbed the caterpillar will “ferociously” react by raising its tail with its horn and eye patches.

The caterpillar was feeding on Large-leaf Hop Bush Dodonaea triquetra. The caterpillars also feed on Brisbane Fringed Wattle Acacia fimbriata at the same site.

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The Magpie Moth Nyctemera secundiana caterpillar is a useful weed controller feeding on invasive weeds like Climbing Groundsel Senecio scandens*. This specimen was doing useful Bushcare work feeding on Cobblers Pegs Bidens pilosa*.

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Two-tailed Leaf Beetle Aproida balyi

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A Two-tailed Leaf Beetle Aproida balyi was also found feeding on Cobblers Pegs. An attractive bright grass-green with dark brown edges and characteristic horns.

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Torresian Crow (left) and Cuckoo chick

We stopped for a coffee at the Love Well Project after Bushcare. Above us a Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae was screaming for food from its Torresian Crow Corvus orru “parent”.

Channel-billed Cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of other species and depend on those birds to hatch and feed their chicks. In this case a pair of Torresian Crows are playing host to this chick that is already larger than its “parents”. The Crows average size: 50cm, while the Channel-billed Cuckoo has an average size of 62cm.

By: Michael Fox

2020 has been a difficult year with most of our Bushcare events cancelled. So I decided to check in with our partner “nature” to see what has been happening while we have been distracted by a COVID pandemic.

National Tree Day planting 2016 …………………….2021

2016 National Tree Day planting expanded the previous year’s planting of small forest bird habitat. A combination of Habitat Tripods and insect attracting plants to feed Fairy Wrens.

National Tree Day 2017 site ……………………………. 2021

Our 2017 National Tree Day site was a closed car park blocked off and overgrown with weeds. Cleared of weeds, mulched and replanted the site is starting to regenerate healthy habitat for Koalas and small forest birds. .

National Tree Day 2018 site prep …………………….. 2021

The 2018 National Tree Day site needed special preparation because the large amount of asbestos (fibro) dumped there. The BCC Habitat Brisbane team organised professional asbestos removal contractors to clear the site. We then covered the site in a thick layer of cardboard fridge boxes from Harvey Norman. The cardboard was then covered in mulch and planted so any residual asbestos will be locked in by plant roots.

National Tree Day 2019 planting ……………………… 2021

2019 National Tree Day was restoration of a very degraded area where BCC contractors had cleared a large area of Lantana Lantana camara. Plants were chosen to maintain the view while restoring native habitat. The special site has an amazing view out to the Bay Islands hence the track name: Eastern Outlook Track. A great spot to sit and enjoy the winter morning sun.

Australia China Youth Assoc. 2018 …………………… 2021

The Australian Chinese Youth Association are a diverse group of Griffith University students from China, Japan and Australia, all passionate about working with China. The students were studying a wide range of subjects including medical, business and environment. I have never worked with a group so good at finding wildlife: everything from spiders to bugs fascinated them. The group happily worked on a challenging steep site removing invasive Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia and doing such a good job the fern has not returned while natural regeneration has already bought back native grasses including Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus – butterfly caterpillar food and Poison Peach Trema tomentosa – feeds fruiting eating birds.

Clairvaux Bushcarers 2018

I missed working with our Clairvaux Mackillop College students over the past twelve months. The Clairvaux Bushcarers worked hard clearing weeds to allow natural regeneration to restore the habitat. The students with all their energy are a real pleasure to work alongside. It is always a pleasure to introduce our local wildlife to this fascinated audience. Everything interests them: Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus, St Andrew’s Cross Spider Argiope Keyserlingi or learning that Ladybeetles have a larval stage Variable Ladybird Beetle Coelophora inaequalis: adult beetle and larvae (right). I am already working with the College to set event dates for 2021.

National Tree Day 2020 had to be cancelled however the BCC Natural Areas team stepped up and organised contractors to plant a large area at the Summit.

2021 is already looking good with Clean Up Australia on Sunday March 7th.

Find a full range of volunteer opportunities.

By: Michael Fox

Yesterday Laurie Deacon, my Co-president and I were honoured to welcome our state Environment Minster Hon. Leeanne Enoch to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. Minister Enoch was accompanied by our local MPs Corinne McMillan and Joe Kelly. We were also joined by Wayne Cameron, Bulimba Creek Catchment Co-ordinating Committee (B4C), Rob Janson and Greg Neill representing N4C and Coorparoo Finger Gullies Bushcare, and Greg Wellard, Mackenzie Bushcare.

Butterfly Hill-topping Site
Koala inspecting visitors

First stop on our tour is the butterfly speed dating site: look for the butterfly sign near the Summit Track entry. Some butterfly species practice “hilltopping behaviour” where males gather on in locations like the amphitheatre like space with the protection of trees along the edge for safety, all with the objective of attracting a female.

Our visitors were particularly interested in the Koala Phascolarctos cinereus population in the Reserve. One of our Koala Drinker team, Jake Slinger, spotted a Koala watching from the trees right where we were standing.

(l-r) Greg Wellard, Rob Janson, Greg Neill, Leeanne Enoch, Wayne Cameron, Corinne McMillan, Joe Kelly, Greg Neill, Laurie Deacon, Michael Fox

Our visitors were very impressed with restoration at the 2017 National Tree Day planting site.

I particularly complemented our political representatives on the impact of the Containers for Change initiative which has caused a very positive problem. When I look back at past CleanUp’s for comparison:

The reduction in rubbish meant our 2020 CleanUp not only had our largest team of volunteers but also our largest Weeding Team. A very positive problem!

Little Eagle 3 - Hieraaetus morphnoides - 13 May 2020 - P Demmers

Square-tailed Kite (pair)

By: Michael Fox

A pair of Square-tailed Kite Lophoictinia isura seem to be making our Reserve their home. Pieter Demmers sighted the pair at a possible nest site at the top of the Goodenia Track near Mt Gravatt Campus. Stacey McLean kindly provided the correct identification.

Friday, I actually watched one of these impressive birds circling over our National Tree Day plantings. I’m hoping this is a sign of habitat health, as large raptors are unlikely to take up residence in the Reserve if there is not plenty of food.

 

Eupanacra splendens - Hawkmoth -11 May 2020

Eupanacra splendens Hawk Moth

This been a great season for butterflies and moths with thousands of sightings of Hummingbird like creatures hovering in front of flowers. Hawk Moths long tongues allow them to hover in front of flowers while drinking the nectar.

We love butterflies in our gardens tend to ignore moths. However, moths vastly outnumber butterflies with 11,000 species compared to about 400 species of butterflies.

Eupanacra splendens - 13 Apr 2018

Eupanacra splendens caterpillar

On Gardening Australia, Professor Ken Walker, senior curator of entomology at Museums Victoria, explained the importance moths in our gardens. Moths work hard under cover of darkness providing valuable pollination services. Moths are also valuable food for birds visiting our gardens as well as lizards and other animals.

 

Butterfly and moth caterpillars feed on our garden plants, like this Eupanacra splendens caterpillar on my Peace Lily Spathiphyllum sp. However, they rarely do a much damage and we end up beautiful butterflies and interesting and valuable moth pollinators.

 

Banded pupa parasite wasp - Gotra sp. - female - ovipositor 2 - 2 May 2020

Banded Pupa Parasite Wasp

 

Professor Walker also refers to beneficial garden insects which includes some some of the ichneumon parasitic wasps found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. The ichneumon wasps have no sting and perform valuable pest control activities.

The female Banded Pupa Parasite Wasp – Gotra sp. has no sting but a long ovipositor used to lay eggs on caterpillars. (Latin ovi = egg, posit = placed)

 

Tiger Ichneumon Wasp - Metopius sp. 2- 1 May 2020

Tiger Ichneumon Wasp

 

Tiger Ichneumon Wasp Metopius sp.

Ichneumon wasps are some of the most attractive insects you can see in the Reserve.

 

 

Alan Moore photographed this Yellow-banded Ichneumon Wasp Echthromorpha agrestoria 

Yellow-banded Ichneumon Wasp - Echthromorpha agrestoria - A Moore 28 May 2020 lr

Yellow-banded Ichneumon Wasp Echthromorpha agrestoria

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Chinese Scouts - 28 July 2019

Brisbane First Chinese Scout Group

By: Michael Fox

130 participants planted 450 native shrubs, vines and grasses … another successful National Tree Day and another large area of Fox Gully Bushcare restored.

 

As in past years many community groups returned for our 2019 event:

Shinnyoen - National Tree Day 2019, Mt Gravatt Environmental Group

Welcome to Resurge Digital Team … looking forward to meeting again in 2020

Planting Team - 28 July 2019

Holes ready: planting underway

Please accept my apologies if I got any names wrong or missed any groups. I normally do this report soon after the event.

Thank you to the BCC Habitat Brisbane team who organised the plants, mulch and holes for the planting.

National Tree Day is always an inspiration, having all these community members helping us restore the Reserve.

Weeding Team - 28 July 2019

Weeding team returns

The Weeding Team cleared a huge area of the invasive Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia, Fishbone is a native but not to Brisbane bushland and parks where it is an invasive weed.

Thanks to the Teams work Fishbone is well on the way to be eradicated from another part of Fox Gully Bushcare.

Griffith Mates Team - 28 July 2019

Griffith Mates Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tree Day fun - 29 July 2019

Of course it is never all work and no play.

 

 

 

Jake and Georgia - 18 Oct 2019

Georgia (left) and Jake planting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three months on and thanks to the watering done by Jake, Georgia and Robyn while I was away, only four plants have  died, our best result ever. And click on the photos to see the amazing growth of Native Sarsaparilla Hardenbergia violacea which is already growing out the top of the green plant shelters.

Spangled Drongo - Dicrurus bracteatus - 18 Oct 2019

Spangled Drongo

 

 

 

Jake, Georgia and Griffith Mates have been working with me to finish the planting. Watched over by a Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus.

 

 

 

 

By: Michael Fox

Guinea Grass gone - 27 April 2019

Clearing Guinea Grass                                                             Weeds busted

Red Natel Grass - 27 April 2019

Red Natal Grass Busted

I welcomed the Australia China Youth Association (ACYA) team yesterday to weed the  2015/16 National Tree Day planting.

The Small Bird Planting is thriving, however, the Guinea Grass Megathyrsus maximus and Red Natal Grass Melinis repens that covered the site before restoration are still regrowing from seed. By clearing the weed grasses before a new crop of seed sets we will break the cycle of infestation.

The team got stuck right in bagging the seed heads for removal off site before they removed the grasses.

Common Crow - Euploea core - male sex brand - 27 April 2019

Common Crow sex brand

 

 

The ACYA team are always interested in finding native wildlife when they come to Bushcare.

The first find was a handsome male Common Crow Euploea core butterfly. I explained that some male butterflies have sex brands they use to store pheromones impress the girls.

Blue Tiger - claws 1 - 6 Feb 2015 cropped

Blue Tiger butterfly claws

 

Common Crow butterflies use their claws to scratch the leaves on Parsonsia vines. Butterflies taste with their feed to check they have the correct species of plant and males store alkaloids from the leaves to help with breeding.

Imperial Hairstreak - Jalmenus evagoras - butterflies - 27 April 2019

Imperial Hairstreak butterflies

 

 

 

 

We also found lots of Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras butterflies at the 2018 National Tree Day planting site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We found Imperial Hairstreak chrysalis on the Brisbane Fringed Wattle Acacia fimbriata planted in July 2018. The caterpillars and chrysalis are protected by native Small Meat Ants in return for sugary extrusions.

 

 

Variable Ladybird Beetle - Coelophora inaequalis - 27 April 2019

Variable Ladybird Beetle

 

 

 

A number of Variable Ladybird Beetles Coelophora inaequalis were found by Wento.

It is very encouraging to find bugs visiting the replanted habitat. The more insects the more insect eating small birds will return.

 

 

 

 

Stingless Native Bee - Tetragonula sp. - hive - 27 April 2019

Stingless Native Bee hive

 

 

To finish the morning I showed the team a Stingless Native Bee hive in an old log.

 

 

 

Stingless Native Bee - Tetragonula sp. - 27 April 2019

Stingless Native Bee

 

 

 

 

They had heard about our Stingless Native Bees but they were surprised to see how small they are: small than a house fly.

While these tiny bees are stingless they have very powerful jaws.

Team - 27 April 2019

ACYA team

 

 

 

Thank you team. It is always a pleasure to welcome you to Bushcare, hear your stories and share my knowledge.

Help build on our success. Register for 2019 National Tree Day.

 

By: Michael Fox

 

Members of the Australian Chinese Youth Association (ACYA) joined me yesterday to restore Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. A diverse group with students from China, Japan and Australia, all passionate about working with China.

The team were also all interested in everything I showed them, like the Basket Fern Drynaria rigidula growing, not in cool shady gullies but on dry rocky Mt Gravatt.

Proud Bushcare team - 23 March 2019

Weed Busters at work removing Fishbone Fern

 

Casey asked what we do in the forest so I showed the National Tree Day plantings and explained our work educating and engaging community members with grant funding for interpretive signs and maps of walking tracks.

I put the team to work removing invasive Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia. A native species indigenous to north Queensland it is an environmental weed in Brisbane spreading from garden waste dumped in bushland and smothering local natives.

Bark Cockroach - Laxta sp. - 23 March 2019

Bark Cockroach

 

 

Remember I said the team were interested in everything?

We have never found so many different species at one time. Casey found one of our bush cockroaches: Bark Cockroaches Laxta sp. live in the leaf litter preforming valuable recycling work.

 

Black Woodland Cockroach - Platyzosteria melanaria - 23 March 2019

Black Woodland Cockroach

 

 

A Black Woodland Cockroach Platyzosteria melanaria is a new addition to our Flora and Fauna species list.

 

 

 

Brisbane brush-footed trapdoor - Seqocrypta jakara - 23 March 2019

Brisbane Brush-footed Trapdoor Spider

 

Brisbane Brush-footed Trapdoor Spider  Seqocrypta jakara is another new species identified.

 

 

 

Net-casting Spider - Deinopis sp. - young - 23 March 2019

Net-casting Spider

 

 

 

 

 

A newly hatched Net-casting Spider Deinopis sp.

Brown Huntsman - Heteropoda sp. - 23 March 2019

Brown Huntsman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think Wentao (right) set a new record for finding wildlife including a Brown Huntsman Heteropoda sp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weeding disturbed a  Sugar Ant Camponotus sp. The ants immediately got busy relocating their larvae and when I checked today the site was completely clear.

 

 

 

Fungi - 23 March 2019

 

 

 

 

Cute fungi were also found.

 

 

Tiny mushroom fungi - 23 March 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny mushroom fungi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eight plus bags of weeds - 23 March 2019

Proud Weed Busters

 

 

Eight and quarter bags of weeds removed and ready to go to Green Waste at the dump. We compost most weeds onsite however the roots and nodules of Fishbone need to be removed from site or they regrow.

Thank you to the ACYA team. Looking forward to welcoming you back in two weeks.

 

By: Michael Fox

 

I inspected the National Tree Day planting site today and as always I am impressed how local natives can thrive even in the dry weather we have been having. Rain this week will be a real boost however even before the rain most of the plants our community team put in have been thriving. Brisbane Fringed Wattle - Acacia fimbriata - 5 Feb 2019 lowres

Seven months on the Brisbane Fringed Wattles  Acacia fimbriata are outgrowing the green plant shelters, Blady Grass Imperata cylindrica and Kangaroo Grass Themeda triandra are standing tall, and Dusky Coral Pea Kennedia rubicunda is draped over the Habitat Tripod.

Native Hibiscus - Hibiscus heterophyllus - 5 Feb 2019 lowres

 

 

 

Native Hibiscus/Rosella Hibiscus heterophyllus are thriving and already feeding local insects which is the first step in attracting insect eating birds like Variegated Fairy Wrens Malurus lamberti. Native Hibiscus not only feeds insects it is also a versatile bush food for your Pollinator Link garden.

By: Michael Fox

Clairvaux Bushcarers - 14 May 2018

Clairvaux Bushcarers

Our new partnership with Clairvaux MacKillop College is off to a great start. Clairvaux Bushcarers joined us last Monday to help prepare the 2018 National Tree Day site.

The team worked so hard removing weeds and moving branches to make the site safe, our Tuesday Bushcare group was able to finalise the preparation ready for spreading mulch.

 

Proud Weed Busters - 14 May 2018

Proud Weed Busters

It was a real pleasure to work with the students, a bit like herding cats, but still a real pleasure.

Over fifty years ago Frederick Herzberg identified recognition and a sense of achievement as two key factors in helping individuals build their motivation. Watching the students’ level of engagement and energy grow as they worked was an excellent example of Hertzberg’s research in action.

Variable Ladybird Beetles - Coelophora inaequalis - 14 May 2018

Variable Ladybird Beetle

Removing huge clumps of Guinea Grass Megathyrsus maximus really does provide a great sense of achievement and by removing and bagging the seed heads dramatically reduces weed regrowth.

The Clairvaux Bushcarers also had a wonderful time finding “bugs” for me to photograph. Like this Variable Ladybird Beetle Coelophora inaequalis.

26-spotted Potato Ladybird - Epilachna vigintisexpunctata - 14 May 2018

26-spotted Potato Ladybird

 

The students also found  26-spotted Potato Ladybird Epilachna vigintisexpunctata which is a new addition to our Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

 

 

Variable Ladybird Beetles - Coelophora inaequalis - larve - 14 May 2018

Variable Ladybird Beetle larvae

 

 

I was also able to introduce the students to the strange looking Ladybird Beetle larvae.

 

Variable Ladybird Beetle Coelophora inaequalis larvae.

Common Spotted Ladybird - Harmonia conformis - larva - 14 May 2018

Common Spotted Ladybird Beetle

 

 

 

Common Spotted Ladybird Beetle Harmonia conformis larvae.

 

Common Assassin Bug - Pristhesancus plagipennis - 5th Instar - 14 May 2018

Common Assassin Bug 5th Instar

 

 

 

 

 

Common Assassin Bug Pristhesancus plagipennis 5th Instar. As the name suggests Assassin Bugs are pest controllers for your garden feeding on spiders and other insects.

Common Methana - Methana marginalis - large nymph - native cocoroach - 14 May 2018

Common Methana

 

 

 

 

Common Methana Methana marginalis large nymph. A native cockroach, the Common Methana are great recyclers turning leaves into soil and food for lizards and birds.

Bark Cockroach - Laxta sp. - 14 May 2018

Bark Cockroach

 

 

 

 

 

Bark Cockroach Laxta sp. are another curious native cockroach working hard to recycle leaf litter.

 

 

Yellow-shouldered Stout Hover Fly - Simosyrphus grandicornis - 14 May 2018

Yellow-shouldered Stout Hover Fly

 

 

 

 

Yellow-shouldered Stout Hover Fly Simosyrphus grandicornis 

 

 

Clairvaux Bushwalkers - Weed Busting - 10 May 2018

Creeping Lantana

 

 

 

 

The Clairvaux Bushwalkers helped the previous week, removing Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses* (the asterisk * is used to identify non-native species).

 

Small Dusky Blue - Candalides erinus - topside - 10 May 2018

Small Dusky Blue butterfly feeding

 

 

 

 

 

Small Dusky Blue Candalides erinus butterfly feeding on nectar from the flower of a Purple Fleabane Cyanthillium cinereum. Look for the proboscis: a hollow drinking straw the butterfly unrolls. Natives like the Purple Fleabane are returning as Creeping Lantana is removed.

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday we hosted the Clairvaux Scientists who checked water quality in Mimosa Creek.

 

 

 

Checking acidy - 18 May 2018

Acid Test

 

 

The water sample was then tested with litmus paper which established a healthy neutral water.

 

 

Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly - Orthetrum villosovittatum - 18 May 2018

Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly

 

 

We also spotted a new dragonfly species to add to the species list. Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly Orthetrum villosovittatum

 

Thank you to all the Clairvaux students and staff.

I am looking forward to growing a long partnership restoring Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve and learning environmental skills.