Lord Mayor's 2016 Australia Day Awards

Laurie receiving Green Heart Award

By: Michael Fox

Mt Gravatt Environment Group was honoured on Australia Day with presentation of the Lord Mayor’s Green Heart Award – Organisation 2016.

 

 

 

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The award citation:

“Mount Gravatt Environment Group is dedicated to their local environment. Their mantra ‘bringing birds and butterflies back to suburbia’, is achieved by the careful planning and implementation of many projects within the local community including mountain and gully restoration and various flora and fauna projects. The group has been responsible for the rehabilitation of Fox Gully into a vibrant wildlife corridor.

The group works closely with other community organisations to ensure maximum outcome and benefits for Mount Gravatt.”

Laurie Deacon Family and Cr Adams

Cr Krista Adams, myself, Laurie and Sigrid with Green Heart Award

Our President, Laurie Deacon, Sigrid – representing the next generation, and I all attended the award ceremony. An impressive event held in City Hall and hosting an amazing group of individuals members who are giving their time generously to our community.

As with many community groups, the achievements acknowledged with this award are the combined efforts of many individual Mt Gravatt Environment Group members, as well as, some extraordinary community partners who provide support with training, equipment, plants, grant funding, research and boots on the ground. Thank you to:

 

 

 

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By: Michael Fox

Alan Moore, Photography Workshop leader, and I were planning the trail for the participants’ photo assignment when I found this flamboyant new addition for our Flora & Fauna research.

Our 2015 Photography Workshop will focus on macro-photography like this amazing shot taken by Alan.

Want to learn see Nature Close-up? Register today for Workshop on Sunday 24th May

Only a few places left!

Tunks Park East Bushcare

Tunks Park East Bushcare

By: Michael Fox

Visiting my daughter in Sydney is a great opportunity to check out the local bushcare sites like Flat Rock Gully  on the boundaries of North Sydney and Willoughby City Councils. Flat Rock Creek is piped under Tunks Park creating a popular community space with children’s playground,  cricket pitches, football fields and great space for dogs to play with their owners.

Difficult bushcare

How do I reach that Asparagus Fern?

Weeds

Asparagus Fern and Mother of Millions on rock face

Tunks Park East & West and Mortlock Reserve Bushcare groups (North Sydney Council) are active restoring the along the southern side of Flat Rock Creek while The Drive (Flat Rock Gully) Bushcare group (Willoughby City) is working on the northern side.

The rock formations common in Sydney make very attractive landscape but challenging sites for bushcare.

Tunks Park East group leader Steve Miles who told me that a large  Privet grove had been the priority initially.

Nature is resilient

Nature is resilient

Steve explained that one of the key issues was that the site, like so many in Sydney, is narrow with housing right along the edge which means dealing constant reinfection with garden escapees.

However, Steve is still optimistic “Nature is resilient and just needs a chance.” Like this native fig finding any crack or fissure for its roots to get a hold. Steve explained that Flat Rock Gully is a diversity hot spot and wildlife is returning as restoration progresses. Aside from a Brush Turkey mound the team regularly sights green tree snakes, king parrots, scaly-breasted lorikeets and bandicoots are returning. The return of bandicoots is excellent news however it does highlight the need for gully neighbours and visitors to control their pets. Dogs on leash in bushland and cats kept inside at night.

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Cammeray Bridge

Bandicoots, like many of the small to medium-sized marsupials of Australia, have undergone several species extinctions and significant contractions in distribution since European settlement because of land clearing and the introduction of predators (foxes, dogs and cats) 

Other exciting news from 2014 is the new native plant nursery at The Coal Loader Sustainability Centre and a couple of sea lions sunning themselves on the shore-front rocks.

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The spectacular Cammeray Bridge with its castellated towers forms the boundary of Steve’s Tunks Park East site.

Following the tracks up Flat Rock Gully markers tell some of the European history, for example, the original Northbridge Suspension Bridge was a toll bridge built in 1889 and replaced in 1939 with the Cammeray Bridge, retaining the towers.

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Log boundary

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The bushcare teams have been active on both sides of Tunks Park with logs allowing weeds to be composted onsite.

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Creek crossing

Crossing Flat Rock Creek

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The track along Flat Rock Creek is cool and peaceful, very popular with walkers and runners. Unfortunately most dog walkers I passed ignored the many signs saying dogs must be on a leash in the bushland area. This is particularly disappointing considering the huge area of parkland just a short distance down the track where dogs are free to run and chase balls.

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angophora costata

Smooth-barked Apple Angophora costata

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Many of the native plant species are ones we find in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve, like Sweet Sarsaparilla Smilax glyciphylla, Tree Ferns Cyathea cooperi and Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus. There were also quite a number of species I didn’t recognise spectacular like Smooth-barked Apple Angophora costata all orange as they shed their bark.

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On-site weed recycling

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I always get new ideas when visiting other bushcare sites. One interesting idea is the separation of woody weeds from grass and soft weeds which can be covered with black plastic to compost quickly. Simple but effective. We already use black plastic but putting the woody weeds into a different pile will create good habitat for lizards while allowing the softer weeds to compost faster.

I look forward to exploring further up Flat Rock Gully on my next visit to Sydney.

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Count the Scaly’s

By: Michael Fox

We often have Scaly-breasted Lorikeets Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus visiting our birdbaths. However in the past it was always two or three at a time. A little smaller than their cousins the Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus these cute birds with their flashing orange under-wings flock with the Rainbows.

Scaly’s are often out competed for nest hollows by their larger cousins. So it was a real pleasure to see at least eight, I had trouble counting as they flitted around, having fun in the water today.

Water for wildlife is really important in the current dry spell we are having in SE Queensland and we are rewarded by a constant stream of colourful visitors.

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Scaly-breasted Lorikeets

 

Kookaburra family - 15 Feb 2014

Kookaburra parents with three juveniles

By: Michael Fox

Just a few minutes ago I heard a couple of loud thumps on the large glass doors at the back of our house. On investigating I found a young (must be young to be so foolish) Kookaburra, sitting on the fence looking very shaken. It seems that flying into the glass once was not enough; it had to have a second go.

Just beyond the fence was the rest of the family sitting in the waiting tree above the bird baths. I have been refilling the bird baths twice a day this week as the dry weather drives our wildlife to look for water.

The Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) parents hatched four chicks in the Boobook Owl nest box over Christmas. Only three chicks survived the fight for survival to become fledglings. It is good to have the family visit regularly.

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18 January – three fledglings ready to leave home

By: Michael Fox

2014 is off to a good start. Lots of Koala sightings, including a joey which gives us two joey in Fox Gully in the last twelve months, Kookaburras hatching chicks and Squirrel Gliders breeding in our nest boxes and today a Brush-turkey chick.

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Very neat gardener – Brush-turkey pinching mulch

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Mmmm … do I like this place?

We have been watching the male Brush-turkey building his mound and playing host to visiting females since July last year. One morning we looked out to find him pinching mulch … a very tidy gardener, he neatly scraped the mulch about 4o metres from our yard to his mound and left the grass spotless by the end of the day.

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I can fly … whoops … what is that invisible wall?

We have been worried that we missed any hatching’s or that chicks had been taken by a fox or a cat. Today that changed when I walked into the lounge to find this beautiful and confused Turkey chick standing on my clean washing – fortunately just the old jeans I wear for bushcare.

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Released in relative safety of Fox Gully

I quickly grabbed the camera and recorded the visit. Obviously the chick decided the bush was more attractive than my old jeans, however, while he could fly he still has to learn about windows.

I caught him(or her) before he could hurt himself and released him in the safety of the tree cover of the gully.

I hope we have more Turkey chicks visit … perhaps outside so I don’t have to clean up the little gifts they leave behind on the furniture.

By: Susan Jones

Female Koala at Gertrude Petty Place
Photo by Susan Jones

This afternoon about 4pm we stopped clearing weeds and sat down at Gertrude Petty Place for a cool drink and something to eat.

To my amazement, a female koala jumped to the ground from a sapling gum a few metres away and headed out onto the grass.  I squatted with the camera to take a shot, not realising that the Tallowwood gum I was hiding behind was the koala’s next destination!  It shot up the Tallowwood, only stopping once to look back disdainfully at me.

People sometimes forget that Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve is an enviromental park where visitors share the habitat with koalas, echidnas and many other species.

It is wonderful to see people enjoying the Summit and Federation Outlook tracks, particularly with the increasing sightings of koalas.  However, many people parking at Gertrude Petty Place then go walking dogs off-leash in our conservation reserve.

The presence of this  koala at Gertrude Petty Place today, is a very good reason why we should be encouraging dog owners to keep their animals on-leash in the Reserve.

Your dog wants to play off-leash? Visit Abbeville Street Park.