Koala mapping - Mar 2015

First Koala sightings 2015

By: Michael Fox

2015 is off to a good start with six sightings of Koalas reported already, and, importantly, the sightings have been right around the Reserve.

Koala - Mt Gravatt Campus - 23 Feb 2015 - Michael McGeever

Koala – Griffith Uni Mt Gravatt Campus

The latest sighting was on Sunday while we were doing a guided walk for our Griffith Mates visitors. Pieter Demmers spotted the Koala high in a tree beside Acacia Way. Seeing this Koala in the bush was particularly special for our visitors from Germany, France and China.

Michael McGeever spotted another Koala, probably a male,  just at the entry to the Mt Gravatt Campus

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Koala - Fox Gully - 27 Feb 2015

Young Koala Fox Gully

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Then we were woken about 4am last week. A young Koala seemed to be calling its mother with the short squeal – almost a ‘yip’, they use to communicate. I was able to get a photo when is climbed an Acacia near the house.

In 2014 at least two Joeys (baby Koalas) were born in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. In 2015 we want to do more tracking of Koalas with the aim of identifying and tracking individuals to help us understand their movement patterns and how to reduce the number killed on the South-east Freeway.

So if you see a Koala, please take a photo – phone camera is ok, note the location and any comments eg. mother with joey or walking along the road.

Sightings can be reported to Koala Tracker and/or emailed to megoutlook@gmail.com.

Roly Chapman - Zone 2 - 27 Feb 2015

Restoration team at work – Liz, Heather, Eloise & Lincon

By: Michael Fox

Our Roly Chapman restoration team has made good progress clearing Guinea Grass Panicum maximum, Sword/Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia and Easter Cassia Senna pendula from Zone 2.

Natural regen - Zone 2 - 27 Feb 2015

Parsonsia vine, Creeping Beard Grass, Slender Grape and Native Wandering Jew (blue flower)

Bushland restoration can be slow as breaking the cycle of weeds retuning means removing seeds and roots left in the ground. Seed heads need to be clipped off Guinea Grass then bagged. Fishbone Fern is particularly slow as all the brown fibrous roots need to be dug up and bagged for removal, leaves can be composted on-site.

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Marshal chatting to a local Magpie

However, watching the natural regeneration of native species provides inspiration to keep going with the work. Each time we come on-site the Slender Grape Cayratia clematidea, Wombat Berry Eustrephus latifolius, Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus, Native Wandering Jew Commelina diffusa and Parsonsia vines are returning where the weeds have been removed.

Restoration of Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve will take another ten or twenty years however with the new cycle path and bridge over Mimosa Creek this is already becoming a special place to walk or cycle.

Water Dragon - 16 Oct 2014

Eastern Water Dragon

Marshal and I took at walk through the Reserve to check out the fungi that has appeared after the rain. Eastern Water Dragons Physignathus lesueurii and turtles can often be seen beside the causeway across Mimosa Creek. This morning it was just a family of Australian Magpies Gymnorhna tibicen. One Magpie was particularly taken with Marshal when he stopped for a chat.

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Yellow Fleshy Pore Fungi

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Some beautiful fungi fruit have appeared, like the Yellow Fleshy Pore Fungi with its charismatic underside with pores rather than the more common finned underside. Click on image to enlarge.

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White Mushroom fungi - 27 Feb 2015

White gilled fungi in composting weeds

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This white gilled fungi is growing out of one the weed composting piles.

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Gilled fungi - 27 Feb 2015

Gilled fungi

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Delicate gilled fungi.

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Mushroom cluster - 27 Feb 2015

Gilled fungi cluster

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Gilled fungi cluster on stick.

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Laughing Kookaburra

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While we are working we always have local wildlife visiting. Laughing Kookaburras Dacelo novaeguineae and Grey Butcherbirds Cracticus torquatus arrive as soon as we start clearing weeds exposing small insects and spiders.

Grey Butcherbird - 27 Feb 2015

Grey Butcherbird looking for breakfast

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Blue Tiger - 5 Jan 2014

Blue Tiger feeding on Prickly Pine nectar

By: Michael Fox

Blue Tiger butterflies Tirumala hamata are one of the most beautiful found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve and this has been amazing season for all butterflies as reported by ABC News – Butterflies booming in south-east Queensland

Blue Tiger butterfly caterpillars feed on only three plant species, none of which are found in the Reserve. Reference: Butterfly host plants of south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales (2013) – Moss, J. T.

Fortunately the adult Blue Tigers are less choosy, visiting the Reserve to feed on nectar of the Prickly Pine Bursaria spinosa.

Imperial Hairstreak - pupation - 2 Feb 2015

Imperial Hairstreak caterpillar forming pupa

Watch carefully to see the butterfly’s proboscis flicking in and out the reach the nectar deep in the flower.

Imperial Hairstreak - roosting - 4 Feb 2015

Imperial Hairstreak roosting at night

Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras butterflies are breeding in the Reserve with caterpillars feeding on Early Black Wattle Acacia leiocalyx. Imperial Hairstreak caterpillar and chrysalis also depend on attendant “Kropotkin” ants – Small Meat Ant Ants Iridomyrmex sp. which provide protection in return for sugary fluids secreted by caterpillar. Click on photo to enlarge.

Last night I learned something new about Imperial Hairstreak butterflies, they roost at night on their caterpillar food trees. At great time to get a close up photo as they slow moving in the cool night air. I was helping Helen Schwencke – Earthling Enterprises, as she collected Acacia leaves for the Hairstreak butterflies she is raising for her life-cycle research. We were both surprised to find the adult butterflies roosting on the same trees.

Yellow Albatross - close - 20 Jan 2015

Yellow Albatross Appias paulina

By: Michael Fox

Finding a new butterfly species in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve is special, a small surprise adding colour to your walk in the bush. The Yellow Albatross Appias paulina brings the number of butterfly species found in the Reserve to forty-eight.

Caterpillar food plant for the Yellow Albatross is the attractive Native Holly Alchornea ilicifolia.

Glasswing - 26 Apr 12

Glasswing Acraea andromacha

Glasswing - caterpillar - crop - 5 Jan 2015

Glasswing caterpillar on Spade Flower

 

Our butterfly species information has also been updated with a photo of a Glasswing caterpillar on a Spade Flower Hybanthus stellarioides.

Visit the Flora & Fauna pages to explore the amazing species diversity in the Reserve.

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.

Xanthorrhoea macronema - 22 Nov 2014

Bottle Brush Grass Tree

By: Michael Fox

After the long dry period it is a pleasure to see the bush come back to life. Walking the Eastern Outlook Track this morning we found a number of the uncommon Bottle Brush Grass Trees Xanthorrhoea macronema in flower or getting ready to flower.

Xanthorrhoea macronema - 9 Oct 2014 - Alan Moore low res

New flower ready to burst into life

The Bottle Brush Grass Tree is very different to the better known Grass Tree Xanthorrhoea johnsonii. The johnsonii has tall flower spike (scape) reaching up to 1.9 metres with flowers covering most of its length and over time the tree develops the characteristic fire blackened trunk. The Bottle Brush Grass Tree on the other hand has a scape reaching only 1.6 metres with a striking cream-white bottle brush shaped flower that is only about 13cm at the top of the scape and it remains just a crown of leaves at ground level never developing the characteristic fire blackened trunk of other species.

The furry bottle brush flowers are very popular with native bees both the small black Stingless Native Bees Trigona carbonaria and the solitary Blue Banded Bees Amegilla cingulata.

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If you are walking keep an eye out for the new flower spikes … they will be ready in a couple of days.

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Drynaria rigidula - 22 Nov 2014

New life in Basket Fern

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The Basket Ferns Drynaria rigidula are all sending forth new leaves after dying off in the long dry.

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Coracina novaehollandiae - 22 Nov 2014

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

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A little further along the track you may be lucky to see or hear the Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike Coracina novaehollandiae we met on our walk. Listen to the call on Birds in Backyards site.

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Todiramphus sanctus - 19 Nov 2014

Forest Kingfisher

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Or you might see the handsome Forest Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus.

Please let us know if you have any sightings and photos to share – megoutlook@gmail.com

 

 

Exocarpos cupressiformis - 22 Nov 2014By: Michael Fox

Identification of Native Cherry Exocarpos cupressiformis brings to two hundred and seventy-four plant species identified within Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

 Mt Gravatt Then and Now, Mt Gravatt Historical Society, records that in July 1883 our local Mt Gravatt community convinced the state government to protect the Reserve which had previously been logged as railway timber reserve.

In 2014 it is our turn to protect this unique high diversity habitat. The 274 native plant species our 66 hectare Reserve is equal to 11% of of all species in Great Britain which is 22.6 million hectares.

Protecting and restoring this habitat is a whole of community effort with Griffith Mates joining our Bushcare teams, Mt Gravatt Kindy protecting their part of the habitat and installing nest boxes  so the next generation learns, Mt Gravatt State High School and Fox Gully neighbours supporting efforts to build Pollinator Link wildlife corridors linking the Reserve to other habitats.

Koalas breeding successfully is one measure of our progress.

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