Noisy Miner - feeding chicks2 - Roly C - 16 Oct 2015

Noisy Miner feeding chicks in nest

By: Michael Fox

Some species, like the Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala, are quite happy to share our urban environment. These Miners like to make their nest in the protective wire basket on the lights. Very clever … protection from bigger birds and warmth at night for the eggs.

Now they just need food for the chicks. Nectar feeders, Noisy Miners are honeyeaters, still need protein from insects for their growing chicks.

So it was interesting to have Helen Schwencke, Earthling Enterprises, join us for Roly Chapman Reserve Bushcase last Friday.

Monarch Danaus plexippus - caterpillar - Roly C - 16 Oct 2015

Monarch butterfly caterpillar feeding on Red-headed Cotton Bush

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We found a number of fascinating and photogenic insects in the Reserve.

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Sometimes environmental weeds are the place to look for some of our most attractive insects. The milkweed species, Red-headed Cotton Bush Asclepias curassavica is a favourite of the Monarch or Wanderer butterfly Danaus plexippus.

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Small Green-banded Blue - Psychonotis caelius - caterpillar2 - Roly C - 16 Oct 2015

Small Green-banded Blue caterpillar on Red Ash

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One way to find micro-locals is to look for chewed leaves. An expert like Helen Schwencke can even tell what insect she is looking for just from the pattern of chewing on a leaf.

Caterpillars of the Small Green-banded Blue Psychonotis caelius feed on leaves of the Red Ash/Soapy Ash Alphitonia excelsa. The caterpillar’s lime green colour blends perfectly with the underside of the leaves.

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Native Hibiscus Hibiscus heterophyllus

The name Soapy Ash comes from the effects of saponins on the leaves which create a foaming soapy action. A useful bush soap.

The attractive Native Hibiscus Hibiscus heterophyllus growing in the Pollinator Link display gardens are fast growing and good plants for attracting food for insect eating birds.

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Small Brown-black Leaf Beetle - Nisotra bicolorata - Roly C - 16 Oct 2015

Small Brown-black Leaf Beetle on Native Hibiscus

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We found a number of Small Brown-black Leaf Beetle Nisotra bicolorata feeding on Native Hibiscus.

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Ladybird Coelophora inaequalis - wings - 16 Oct 2015

Ladybird Coelophora inaequalis

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Seeing a Ladybird Coelophora inaequalis spreading its wings is something special. The pattern of dots is a key to identification of Ladybird species.

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Milkweed Aphid - Aphis nerii - 16 Oct 2015 crop

Infestation of Milkweed Aphid Aphis nerii

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Ladybirds are particularly valuable for control of infestations of Aphids.

Aphid infestations can cause massive damage as they suck juice from plants. Ladybirds are particularly valuable for garden pest control as both adult and larvae Ladybirds are predators.

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Sawfly - 16 Oct 2015

Sawfly – species not identified

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We found this beautiful Sawfly adult feeding on Sandpaper Fig Ficus opposita. We have not identified the particular species of Sawfly. I have sent the photo to the Queensland Museum Ask a question team for identification.

Sawfly larvae are curious looking caterpillars that feed on native plants.

The Sandpaper Fig is often called the Supermarket Tree. It attracts birds, can be used for shade, food, medicine, tools, fire and string to make nets and traps.

Geocaching family - Southern Star - Sept 2014

Southern Star – 24 September 2014

By: Michael Fox

Marshal Kloske and I met the Wood family at Mt Gravatt Summit the morning they were there to meet the Southern Star photographer and we were there to photograph butterfly mating displays as part of our research for the new interpretative track signs.

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Noisy Miner chicks calling for food

Marshal showed the family the large new sign with maps and information about local history and environment. Like most people the family were surprised to learn about the local “glow-in-the-dark” mushrooms and they were very interesting our research and restoration work.

Nest watching

Nest watching team in action

Heather, Eloise and Lincoln then joined Liz, Marshal and I on Wednesday afternoon for our regular Fox Gully Bushcare. Knowing we would be joined by young children, I planned a special afternoon of activities including checking the nest-boxes and making a portable plant nursery to propagate native seedlings for re-vegetation work. When the family arrived we found out that Marshal and I are now officially called “the Bush Men” … definitely an honour.

First stop was to check on the Noisy Miner family nesting in the Lillypilly hedge. A mobile scaffold makes an ideal place to look down into the nest. Checking the nest boxes we found two Squirrel Gliders at home in one nest box and three possibly four Gliders in another box.

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Kids and sand – always a success

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Watering in with Seasol

The next job is potting up Creeping Beard or Rainforest Grass Oplismenus aemulus and Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variable. Rainforest Grass is ideal for creating Living Mulch that keeps the weeds down, controls erosion, feeds butterflies and creates a natural fire break with its low fuel load. Love Flower spreads rapidly in the garden and is considered of nuisance by some gardeners. However, this pretty little native herb is host plant for the caterpillars of a number of butterflies including Australian Leafwing Doleschallia bisaltide and Varied Eggfly Hypolimnas bolina. Also Bearded Dragons Pogona barbata like to eat the flowers.

First Eloise and Lincoln helped build a self-watering seedling nursery … sand and water … a recipe forfun.

The idea for this neat seedling nursery came from a Gardening Australia segment on building a simple hothouse. It was a productive and fun afternoon. I will provide an update on the success of the seedling nursery which may become a valuable project for Pollinator Link gardeners.