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.

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.

By: Michael Foximg272

Aldi have bought back their excellent, and at $129 excellent value, Maginon wildlife cameras. If you want one be quick because they will sell out fast.

We have been using two of an older version of these cameras for a couple of years now with excellent results. This new one is of course better with higher resolution video and sound recording. Sound recording would be great at the moment when we are capturing video of the very shy Noisy Pitta living in Firefly Gully. Marshal can hear its call but our camera does not handle sound.

The only issue we have found with these cameras is the intensity of the infrared leds used for video. I have fixed this with masking tape covering two thirds of the leds to reduce the intensity and make the camera less noticeable to our Squirrel Gliders.

See some samples:

Noisy Pitta – day time in colour

Koala at night

Squirrel Gliders at night

Bob Hawke

The Hon. Bob Hawke AC launches Landcare

By: Michael Fox

It was a real pleasure to watch Gardening Australia over the weekend as Costa interviewed The Hon. Bob Hawke AC about his support to establish Landcare Australia in 1989, then followed up later in the program interviewing an amazing 84 year old ball of energy, Don Wilson of Clive Park Bushcare in Sydney and founder of Bushcare’s Major Day Out.

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Click on link to watch the two segments: 25 Years of Landcare Australia

Don Wilson with Costa - Gardening Australia

Don Wilson talking with Costa at Clive Park

I met Don Wilson last year and visited Clive Park Bushcare. Don really is an inspiration. Not only is he out there pulling weeds … I hate Asparagus Fern too Don … he has also pulled together an amazing group of professionals who are behind the annual Bushcare’s Major Day Out. In 2014 BMDO has spread to every Australian state except NT with a record 58 events in Queensland.

Mt Gravatt Environment Group was not involved this year however our 2013 Bushcare’s Major Day Out – Photography Workshop was a great success with participants really starting to see the bush in a different way.

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View over Sailor’s Bay & Middle Harbour

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The Clive Park Bushcare site is worth a visit. With views over Sailor’s Bay and Middle Harbour …

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Clive Park - tree - 2 April 2013

Picnic in the park with water, trees and wildlife

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… it has some of the most beautiful picnic spots you will find in Sydney.

Click on photo to fully appreciate this majestic tree.

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Nest box monitoring - 3 Sept 2014

(l-r) Marshal, Alan, Saki and myself. Liz is on the camera

 

By: Michael Fox

Kyoto University student, Saki, joined Marshal, Alan, Saki, Liz and myself at Bushcare on Wednesday to check the nest boxes providing important habitat for hollow dwelling wildlife.

We the GoPro camera to  drop in on the Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis family were at home in one of the glider boxes.

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Squirrel Glider family

Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis family

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A bundle of Gliders.

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Brushtail & baby - 3 Sept 2014

Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula & baby

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Then we visited mother Brushtail and her baby (called a joey like Kangaroos) in the Kookaburra nest box. The Brushtail took over the nest box not long after the installation by Hollow Log Homes. The Kookaburras took over the Boobook Owl box to raise their family.

Mia & Camilla - Griffith Mates 1 - 23 Aug 2014

Mia & Camilla dressed for action

By: Michael Fox

I was very proud of our Griffith Mates partners today. Rain and mud did not stop Camilla and Mia.

The rain meant it was unsafe to work removing Fishbone Fern on the steeper areas of the gully, so our focus was restoring and strengthening the silt filters along the Farm Fire Trail.

Simon Fox checking silt level - 20 Aug 2014

Simon Fox checking level of silt captured

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The silt filters are proving very effective. Simon Fox, our BCC Habitat Brisbane coordinator, is impressed with our simple low-tech solution to reduce erosion. Recycled deck timber is used to make stakes and timber barriers to hold the mulch forming the silt filter.

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Mia & Camilla - Griffith Mates insert - 23 Aug 2014

Muddy silty water

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The filters slow muddy water so the silt has time to settle out while the water filters away. In some areas up to 100mm of silt has been captured and stopped from flowing into Mimosa Creek.

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Restoring mulch around Koala trees

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We also restored mulch around the Koala trees Griffith Mates planted for National Tree Day.

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Golden-tailed Ant nest - 23 Aug 2014

Golden-tailed Spiny Ant nest

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Camilla and Mia were fascinated by what we found while we were looking for rocks to help manage erosion. The first two rocks we turned over we found ant nests so we carefully restored their home.

The first nest was a Golden-tailed Spiny Ant Polyrhachis ammon. When they named it spiny they were not kidding. Aside from the spines over the head and caster (tail) this ant has extraordinary sharp horns on the body.

Black-headed Strobe Ants - composite - 23 Aug 2014

Black-headed Strobe Ant nest

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Under the second rock we found a new ant to add to the species list for the Reserve. Black-headed Strobe Ant Opisthopsis rufithorax.

Enough work. Time to get out of the rain, have a hot drink and warm up.

 

 

 

 

By: Michael Fox

Noisy Pittas are normally found in rainforest habitat like Lamington National Park or Tamborine National Parks where our New Zealand visitor captured the video above.

Marshal Kloske rang today really excited. A brightly coloured plump bird he had never seen before was pecking around the ground under his bird feeder. Initially he thought it was some sort of parrot then it turned its head … no curved beak. Marshal had a Noisy Pitta Pitta versicolour in the Firefly Gully wildlife corridor. First glow in the dark mushrooms now my favourite bird.

We had another sighting of this cute little bird in March 2013. It is a hopeful sign that small forest birds are returning to our mountain gullies.

Let us know if you see a Pitta – megoutlook@gmail.com

 

 

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