Team 1 July 2017

Griffith Mates Bushcare Team

By: Michael Fox

Our Griffith Mates partners were back today, again led by Sienna Harris, Griffith University Ecological Science student.

 

Rainbow Lorikeet - 22 July 2017 low res

Rainbow Lorikeet checking nest hollow

 

 

 

Koala scratches - 22 July 2017 low res

Koala scratches

 

Just before the Team arrived I spotted a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus checking out a tree hollow as a potential nest sight.

International students are always interested in our wildlife and they loved the bright coloured Rainbows. Rainbow Lorikeets are thought to mate for life (like most parrots) pairs preen and nibble each other during rest periods.

 

I was also able to point out a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita high in the top branches of a eucalypt. It was high up but hard to miss because of its loud screech.

We also looked at Koala scratches on a Queensland Blue Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis.

 

 

 

Lantana Busters at work - 22 July 2017 low res

Lantana Buster Team

 

 

Lantana Buster - 22 July 2017 low res

Weeding is fun

 

 

We then split into two groups:

  • Sienna leading the Lantana Busters
  • I went with the Log Team.

The Lantana Busters worked on clearing the invasive Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses by rolling it up into swales across the slope retain water and reduce erosion by slowing water flow.

Pulling weeds may not sound exciting but there are always lots of smiles.

Hand saw team - 22 July 2017 low res

We can use a hand saw!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Griffith Mates always love to learn new skills, like using a hand saw …

Ochna buster - 22 July 2017 low res

Look at me! I pulled this out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… and pulling deep rooted Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata with the specialist TreePopper bushcare weeding tool.

The Treepopper allows almost anyone to pull difficult weeds by clamping jaws around the trunk then using the leverage of the long handle to slowly pull the deep roots without breaking.

 

Burtons Legless Lizard (Lialis burtonis) - 22 July 2017 cropped

Burtons Legless Lizard Lialis burtonis

 

 

 

 

 

Even finding what she thought was a snake did not spook one of the Lantana Busters. Everyone gathered around, even the log moving team, to inspect what Sienna identified as a Legless Lizard. The lizard was very cooperative and hardly moved while dozens of photos recorded our unusual wildlife.

 

 

How do we move that - 22 July 2017 low res

Mmm … a bit heavy for one of us to lift

The Log Team were also learning new skills.

Brains over brawn - 22 July 2017

Cross beams allow a team lift

This team are all from China and studying microbiology at Griffith University. So they loved the challenge of learning the power of applying more brains and less brawn. None of the team had used ropes before. However, they caught on fast, using a branch as a lever lift the log to get the rope underneath before learning to tie a knot that would not slip.

 

Brains win over brawn. Using two hardwood cross beams a log too heavy for one person can be carried by a team of six. Still hard work and slow going but achievable.

Team Success - 22 July 2017 low res

Team success!

 

 

 

 

The log is in place across the slope and nestled into the mulch so it will not move.

And they were very proud of themselves.

Well done team!

We finished up with a short guided walk inspecting the 2016, 2015 and 2014 National Tree Day planting and explaining the role of nest boxes providing shelter for Squirrel Gliders, Rainbow Lorikeets and Kookaburras.

 

 

 

Amanda McArthur 2 - 26 Sept 2016

Amanda launched her attack on Ochna

By: Michael Fox

Our Griffith Mates friends returned for Fox Gully Bushcare last Saturday.

The job for the day was attacking our three most invasive weeds.

Amanda launched her attack on the Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata. Ochna is a garden escapee that spreads when birds eat the bright coloured berries then fly into the bush, then spreads quickly as the shrubs get established.

Ochna is a particularly difficult weed to remove because of the deep tap-root.  The Treepopper is the ideal weapon attack these woody weeds and you get a great sense of satisfaction as you pull these weeds out roots and all, and no poison needed.

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Emmanuel - 26 Sept 2015

Emmanuel attacks Asparagus Fern

Emmanuel launched his attack on another garden escapee – Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus – again spread by birds eating the red fruit.

Emmanuel used a Cyclone 2 Prong Hoe to remove the Asparagus Fern before trimming off the leaves and roots and collecting the crown for removal off-site. The crown is the brain of the Asparagus Fern, so removal means the plant will not regrow.

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Tomorrow - 26 Sept 2015

Tomorrow identifies Basket Fern from her visit to Cairns

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It is a real pleasure to share the forest with our international visitors. I was particularly impressed when Tomorrow identified Basket Fern Drynaria rigidula.

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Emmanuel and Tomorrow - team - 26 Sept 2015

Emmanuel and Tomorrow team up against Ochna

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Emmanuel and Tomorrow teamed up to tackle the Ochna.

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Emmanuel and Tomorrow - 26 Sept 2015

WOW! That is a big Ochna root

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With Tomorrow digging using the 2 Prong Hoe and Emmanuel on the Treepopper the team managed to pull out the largest Ochna trunk I have seen.

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Lantana team - 26 Sept 2015

Lantana team (l-r) Sienna, Amanda, Ho Yi and Sau To

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Sienna, Amanda, Ho Yi and Sau To attacked the Creeping Lantana Lantana montevidenses again a garden escapee spread by birds eating the purple fruit.

The Lantana team cleared a large area of weed, raking it into swales to compost, control water runoff and reduce spread of weed seed.

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Stick Case Moth - 26 Sept 2015

Stick Case Moth Clania lewinii

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A successful morning for all. Amanda filled her five specimen containers with a bush cockroach, butterfly and other insects for her university collection.

We also added Stick Case Moth Clania lewinii to our species list for the Reserve.

The shape and construction materials of a case moth’s portable home allow identification of the moth species. Stick Case Moths build their case moth bags using sticks of similar length. Similar bags are built the Faggot Case Moth Clania ignobilis with one or two longer sticks.

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Ants - 26 Sept 2015

Meeting the locals – Golden-tailed Spiny Ant nest

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How better to finish the day?

I showed how turning over a couple of rocks could expose a whole new world.

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Golden-tailed Spiny Ant - 22 July 2014 - Alan Moore - close

Golden-tailed Spiny Ant up close

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The Golden-tailed Spiny Ant Polyrhachis ammon really are spiny. Click on photo to enlarge.

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Easter Cassia flower - 15 May 2015

Easter Cassia Senna pendula var. glabrata

By: Michael Fox

Around Easter each year you can see the beautiful yellow splashes of colour in our urban bushland as the environmental weed Easter Cassia Senna pendula var. glabrata comes into flower.

Our last Friday Bushcare at Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve focused on clearing Easter Cassia before another season’s crop of seed matures and spreads the weed further.

Easter Cassia seed pods - 15 May 2015

Easter Cassia seed pods

Diamond-leaf Pittosporum - Auranticarpa rhombifolia - 15 May 2015 lr

Australian Holly/Christmas Berry Ardisia crenata

Australian

Easter Cassia produces beautiful flowers for much of the year. However, it also produces large numbers of seed pods spreading from gardens into urban bushland and shading out native plant species.

You can help protect our bushland by replacing Easter Cassia with native Sennas which have yellow flowers, grow to a similar 2 to 3 metres in height and attract a range of butterflies to your garden. See Toowoomba Plants article on native Sennas and butterflies.

Attractive garden plants like Australian Holly/Christmas Berry Ardisia crenata often become environmental weeds in our urban bushland as they are dumped at garden waste or spread by birds. The moist conditions within Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve make this important habitat particularly vulnerable to invasion by Ardisia crenata.

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Chinese Elm - 15 May 2015

Chinese Elm removed with Treepopper

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We also used the Treepopper to remove a well established Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis. Another garden escapee that crowds out native plant species vital to our native birds, butterflies and bees.

When ever possible we avoid using poison. Instead we pull woody weeds up roots and all with the Treepopper.

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Grey Butcherbird - 15 May 2015

Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus

Our bush restoration work is very satisfying as we clear the weeds and watch the regrowth of native habitat. And every Friday as we work we are joined by a family of Grey Butcherbirds Cracticus torquatus looking for breakfast of spiders, centipedes and bush cockroaches. These birds are so used to us now that they will land on a branch right beside you and pose while you take photos or sing cheerful tunes that seem to be thank-you songs.

Pied Butcherbird - 15 Oct 2014

Pied Butcherbird (adult)

By: Michael Fox

Marshal’s brother Dennis joined us at bushcare today.

We were also joined by a family of three Pied Butcherbirds Cracticus nigrogularis, a parent and two juveniles, as well as two Laughing Kookaburras Dacelo novaeguineae.

We were clearing Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia and disturbed a number of Centipedes Cryptops spinipes. This made us very popular with our bird visitors.

Kookaburra - 15 Oct 2014

Kookaburra with blind snake

It was fascinating to watch the Butcherbirds beat the slower moving Kookaburras. I tossed one Centipede to a juvenile Butcherbird which quickly snatched it up and flew off just before a Kookaburra landed on the same spot.

Marshal and Dennis - 15 Oct 2015

Marshal and Dennis – productive team

The Kookaburras did have some success. This one caught what looks like a blind snake, possibly a Common Eastern Blind Snake Ramphotyhlops nigrescens which has been found in the area (Catterall & Wallace (1987) An Island in Suburbia). Blind snakes are non-venomous and harmless, living in soft surface soil and debris typically feeding on small ants.

The Mt Gravatt Bush Men had a great afternoon of tall tales and laughter. We even managed to clear a lot of weeds, collecting six bags of Fishbone roots, a bile of compost and Marshal used the Treepopper to remove another sixteen Ochna bushes.

 

Campbell Newman & Ian trying Treepopper

We were honoured to host local LNP candidate Ian Walker with Campbell Newman and Jeff Seeney at our Fox Gully Bushcare site yesterday.

Late in day and the light was fading however our visitors were still keen get out into the bush and see our restoration work. Campbell was particularly impressed with the elegant design of the Treepopper we use to remove difficult weed trees like Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis and Micky Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata. Specialist tools like the Treepopper dramatically increase productivity of our bushcare team allowing us to start getting ahead of these invasive weeds.

(l-r) Michael Fox, Campbell Newman, Jeff Seeney, Ian Walker

Jeff Seeney, with his Landcare experience, was particularly interested in our focus on natural regeneration. I was happy to show how, in less than twelve months, native Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillima has returned to act as Green Mulch in the area cleared of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia.

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Briefing on Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan

I was proud to explain that sixteen households in our community have committed to restoring the gully wildlife corridors on their properties. However, briefing these experienced professionals on the Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan was challenging, with Campbell in particular, cutting right to the core in critiquing our cost estimates for some initiatives. So we can be proud as a community group to have Campbell Newman sum up the visit with: “Having seen first hand what is being done here I am not surprised that MEG has won two Spotless Suburbs awards in the recent 2011 announcements.”

My thanks to Ian Walker for the opportunity to present our community initiative and Alan Moore, a Fox Gully Bushcare volunteer, who tackled to fading light to provide our excellent photos.

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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