By: Michael Fox

Gertrude Petty picnic area 8 March, Ann, Sarah, Liz and Mike

………….(l-r) Ann, Sarah, Liz & myself

I was honoured to lead an enthusiastic group of YHA Bushwalkers Queensland – variety YHA Bushies. The Bushies were interested in everything from plants and animals to the geology of the mountain.

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Starting from Gertrude Petty Place we visited two Stingless Native Bee Trigona carbonaria hives then followed the Federation Track to Federation Lookout.

View from Federation lookout, 8 March

…………View from Federation Lookout

The Federation Lookout faces east with views to Mt Petrie, Mt Cotton and Stradbroke Island in the distance.

The track downhill from the Lookout shows the amount of quartz found on the mountain. There were some attempts to find gold but nothing came of it.

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Pink Planthoppers - 8 Mar 2016 low res

…………..Pink Planthopper Colgar sp

The next stage of the Federation Track, from the junction with the Scribbly Gum Track, took us past a number of Scribbly Gums Eucalyptus racemosa. The characteristic scribbles on the bark are created by caterpillars of the tiny Scribbly Gum moth.

We also found a new addition for our fauna species list. This cute Pink Planthopper Colgar sp. stayed still long enough for a photograph.

Galas cleaning nest hollow - 8 Mar 2016

…………..Galahs cleaning nest hollow

Just above use a pair of Galahs Eolophus roseicapillus were cleaning out a nest hollow where a branch has broken off the tree.

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At the top of Federation Track we inspected the small forest bird planting and one of the new interpretative signs. Small Forest Bird sign

Sarah and Liz are members of the West End Greening Group – restoring the habitat at the end of Dauphin Terrace, Highgate Hill. So they were particularly interested in the signs and our methodology for creating the small bird habitat.

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Bitter Bark Petalostigma pubescens 8 Mar 2016 low res

Quinine Bush/Bitter Bark Petalostigma pubescens

A break for tea and chocolate cake. I am told the Bushies consider cake an important resource for any walk in the bush.

We inspected the work eradicating Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus

I also showed them the Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana and Quinine Bush/Bitter Bark Petalostigma pubescens.

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Mt Gravatt Walk 8 March (2)

……….Basket Fern Drynaria rigidula

On to the main Fox Gully Bushcare site we talked about the nest boxes and the resident Squirrel Glider family.

The Bushies were very impressed with the way Basket Fern Drynaria rigidula is recovering with the removal of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia.

It was a real pleasure to show the Bushies Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

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Small bird planting - sign - 13 July 2015

Planning a habitat haven

By: Michael Fox

Brisbane winters are just stunning … as long as you are in the sun and out of the westerly wind.

I spent time this morning laying out the site for our National Tree Day planting. Two sets of concentric circles will create both the protection for nesting and the food – insects, nectar and seeds, required by our small forest birds.

Our two habitat havens will each be 8 metres in diameter and based on the Habitat Network model – Creating a small bird habitat haven.

The Inner Sanctum planted with Coastal Banksia Banksia integrifolia, Prickly Pine Bursaria spinosa and Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana to provide height and tangled habit that larger birds cannot get into making it safe for building nests.

How to plant tubestock

Planting guide for participants

The Protective Circle will be a thick planting of spiky plants like Creek Mat-rush Lomandra hystrix  and Saw Sedge Gahnia aspera. This habit will be attractive for lizards and butterflies while restricting access from feral cats and foxes.

The Shrub Circle will include a range of native herbs and vines with different flowering times and different colours to attract a range of insects. Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variable is a small herb with delicate flowers that Eastern Bearded Dragons Physignathus lesueurii like to eat and provides caterpillar food for a number of different butterflies.

The Eating Out planting of native grasses will provide year round food for seed eating birds like the Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis which will duck out of the safety of the Protective Circle to feed.

Thirty-three participants are registered for the National Tree Day planting so we may have a many as fifty at the event. To help us manage the work I have sourced an excellent “How to plant tubestock” guide from SOWN.

Variegated Fairy Wren - 22 June 2015

Variegated Fairy-wren Malurus lamberti

By: Michael Fox

Our 2015 National Tree Day planting will restore important small forest bird habitat. So it was a real pleasure to see a family of Variegated Fairy-wrens Malurus lamberti among the Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana growing just 100 metres south-east of the site.

This is the first reported sighting near the Eastern Outlook Track. I was not able to get a photo of the male with all his bright colours.

Variegated Fairy Wren - habitat - 22 June 2015

Small Forest Bird habitat

The aim is to create the scrubby tangled habitat where larger like Crows and Butcher Birds cannot get in to rob nests of egg or chicks.

Habitat Network has published an excellent guide for creating small bird habitat.

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Habiat haven

Pandorea pandorana - close - 24 Sept 2014

Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana

By: Michael Fox

Every now and then I come across something really special when doing my bush restoration work. This morning it was coming across this Wonga Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana covered in hundreds of flowers.

I have been working in the area around this vine for months creating a barrier to stop the spread of Guinea Grass Panicum maximum and remove carpet of huge Asparagus Fern Asparagus aethiopicus. I was in the area only a few days ago and didn’t see any flowers then when I arrived this morning the vine was covered in flowers.

Pandorea pandorana - tree - 24 Sept 2014

Wonga Wonga Vine covering an old stag

I have seen Wonga Wonga Vine in Toohey Forest around the Nathan Campus but never in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. This exciting find means we have not identified two hundred and seventy-two different native plant species found in this special island of bushland surrounded by the suburban matrix of houses and roads. That means in 66 hectares we have 11% of the total native plant diversity in the whole of the 22 million hectares of Great Britain.

Wonga Wonga Vine is a vigorous twining plant with this patch almost covering a huge old stag (dead tree) creating great habitat for the small forest birds to hide and nest.

Being right in the middle of the area I have been clearing of weeds, this vine will have a great opportunity to spread as part of the natural regeneration that is all ready occurring with Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variable,  Pink Tongues Rostellularia adscendens and Scrambling Lilly Geitonoplesium cymosum returning.