Bushcare


Grey Huntsman egg sac - 25 March 2014

Grey Huntsman egg sac – Photo: A Moore

By: Michael Fox

“What is this white thing that looks like a tea bag” Alan asked, leading me to a dead tree beside the Farm Fire Trail through Fox Gully Bushcare.

The “tea bag” is actually an egg sac of a Grey Huntsman Spider Heteropoda immanis.

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Holconia immanis - Feb10

Grey Huntsman Heteropoda immanis

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A fearsome looking creature these spiders can inflict a painful but not poisonous bite. Generally timid the females will strongly maternal and will protect egg sac. http://www.arachne.org.au

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Common Gum Tree Shield Bug - egg capsules - 24 March 2014

Egg capsules – Photo: A. Moore

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Having found the spider eggs Alan explored the dead tree to see what else is living in this unexpected habitat. Macro photography of empty egg capsules show that the tree is also home to shield bugs, probably the Common Gum Tree Shield Bug.

We tend to assume a dead tree, or stag, is only useful for firewood. Alan’s photos show that this “dead” habitat is still alive with species that depend on it for breeding.

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Poecilometis patruelis - eggs - Jan10

Common Gum Tree Shield Bug

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I have photographed this Common Gum Tree Shield Bug Poecilometis patruelis laying her eggs in 2010.

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Common Gum Tree Shield Bug Egg sacs close - 25 Mar 2014

Perfectly formed egg capsule lids

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Zooming in even closer we can see that these neat capsules also have perfectly formed lids that pop off as the bugs hatch out. Click on photo to expand and look at bottom right capsule.

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Lacewing eggs - A. Moore - 25 March 2014

Lacewing eggs – Photo: A. Moore

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Alan was also fascinated by the hundreds of tiny mushrooms growing on the tree. However, when I received Alan’s macro picture I realised these were Lacewing eggs each one mounted on an individual thin stalk.

 

 

 

Koala - Fox Gully - 8 March 2014 - 7-01am

Koala with brown pelt? That is different.

By: Michael Fox

Saturday morning I was preparing to lead a guided walk for students from Griffith University and QIBT when my wife, Jude, calls to tell me there is a Koala in the tree behind our house. This is exciting because I can always find a tree with scratches to show people but if I can lead these students to a Koala in the wild right beside their university campus, that will be something special.

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Griffith and QIBT student explorers

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Rainbow Lorikeets

Laurie Deacon and I are joined by ten enthusiastic participants from all over the world – Europe, China, Japan, as well as country Victoria, all keen to explore Mt Gravatt walking tracks.

Acacia Way from Mt Gravatt Campus leads along the ridge that acts as the watershed between Ekibin/Norman Creek catchment and Mimosa/Bulimba Creek catchment passing a tree with a nest hollow being used by a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus.

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Koala Phascolarctos cinereus

I was able to introduce our visitors to bush food – Native Raspberry Rubus moluccanus, unfortunately not in fruit at the moment, and Settlers Flax Gymnostachys anceps with tough fibers used by aborigines to make fishing lines.

Joining the Geebung Track we continued onto the Fox Gully Bushcare site where I explained the nestbox project that is providing breeding habitat for Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis and Kookaburras Dacelo novaeguineae.

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Mountain explorers powering up the hill

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Our friendly Koala has moved high up into the branches, however, it was still a special opportunity to show visitors one of these amazing animals in the wild, not in a zoo, just 15 minutes from the city and right beside their campus.

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Re-energised our team powered on to Mt Gravatt Lookout for a break before returning to campus.

I was particularly pleased to photograph a Spangled Drongo on the way back. We had the Spangled Drongo on our species list but no photograph.

QIBT and Griffith students are invited to join us in our bush restoration work.See Griffith Mates for events. 

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Mt Gravatt Lookout

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Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus

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Kristen introduces Elsa to international visitors

By: Michael Fox

International students are an important group of potential volunteers for bush restoration work so Kristen and  Elsa the Koala joined us at the QIBT (Queensland Institute of Business Technology) OWeek Market.

Elsa, who normally lives at the Daisy Hill Koala Centre, was a real hit with  students from as far away as Japan, China and Sri Lanka. Kristan also amazed students with the body of a three day old joey Koala. Just 30mm long the joey would have made an extraordinary journey to its mother pouch after birth. Unfortunately the mother was hit by a car shortly after and the joey was found in the mother’s pouch.

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Elsa – Koala Phascolarctos cinereus

In south-east Queensland we are lucky to still have some significant Koala habitat with protected areas like Daisy Hill Koala Centre however development pressure is impacting. In Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve and surrounding urban areas we are seeing a return of Koalas that, as recently as 1927, were hunted for their pelts. Nature is giving us a second chance with Koalas so  students engaged in restoration of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve will be making a valuable contribution to a unique Koala habitat just fifteen minutes from Brisbane CBD and right beside their university campus. Students are also invited to visit Daisy Hill Koala Centre – free entry.

Free Dog Behaviour Seminar – Reducing your dog’s impact on Wildlife

Daisy Hill Koala Centre - Sunday 30 March. Dogs off-leash are one of the three key threats to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. Take the opportunity to learn about making your dog wildlife friendly.

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Toni – woman of action

By: Michael Fox

Restoration of Firefly Gully wildlife corridor has reached a new stage with the on Toni McDonald’s section of the gully.

Like Fox Gully, the wildlife corridor is being created on private property which includes the gully, so success is critically dependent on property owners being engaged.

Marshal has already done extensive restoration on the other side of the gully where he has nurtured the Glow in the Dark Mushrooms. Firefly Gully is named for the fireflies which are found in wet weather.

Years of rubbish dumping by previous owners and infestation of the steep slope with weeds like Guinea  Grass Panicum maximum v maximum, Castor Oil Plant Ricinus communis and Madeira Vine Anredera cordifolia has created a significant challenge.

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Toni and Marshal reflecting on a good afternoon’s work

The first step for a job like this is getting access infrastructure in-place to make a safe work place, save time and effort and retain mulch on the slope. Steps will give access to the bottom of the slope and allow easy access to planks laid across the slop at approximately one metre spacing. Planks came from Fox Gully neighbours who are currently replacing their deck. Stakes to hold planks in-place are recycled decking timber, cut to length and pointed. This not only reduces the cost of the project it also reduces waste going to landfill.

Recycling also extends to a lot of the rubbish being removed with old stair stringers being used for planks on the slope and broken bricks used as back fill to make the steps. We even found a complete roll of builder’s black plastic that will be used at our other sites for composting weeds.

Restoring Firefly Gully is part of the initiative to rebuild wildlife corridors between Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve and Mimosa Creek outlined in Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan. Koalas are already moving into these gully corridors.

 

 

Federation Track sign 1 - 10 Feb 14

Federation Track – 1.9km to top of mountain

By: Michael Fox

Part of preparing an accurate and useful map/walking guide for Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve is actually walking all the tracks to check times and signs.

This week I walked the Mt Gravatt Lookout Look starting at Gertrude Petty Place I followed the Federation Track. The track leads through the Gertrude Petty Place Bushcare site where a group led by Sue Jones has been removing weeds and restoring native grasses, vines and trees.

Ironbark Track junction - 10 Feb 2014

Ironbark Track junction – link to Logan Road

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The section of the Federation Track through to the junction with Ironbark Track is very easy walking with no steps or steep climbs. The Ironbark Track currently connects through to Logan Road via the Hillsong Carpark off Rover Street. The long term plan is to bridge the gully at the Rover Street Bushcare site creating a wheelchair accessible track from Gertrude Petty Place through to Mt Gravatt Showgrounds.

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Federation Track steps past Ironbark junction - 10 Feb 2014

Track climbs to reach Federation Lookout

From the Ironbark Track junction the track starts climbing to reach Federation Lookout.

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Federation Lookout junction - 10 Feb 2014

Federation Lookout junction

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Federation Lookout - 10 Feb 2014

Looking back to Federation Lookout

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A short side track to the right takes you Federation Lookout with excellent views over the city to the east..

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From Federation Lookout the track goes downhill over grey-white quartzite. Large quartzite rocks scattered beside the track create some interesting photographic opportunities.

Scribbly Gum junction - 10 Feb 2014

Scribbly Gum Track junction – links to Logan Road at old Scout Hut

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The Scribbly Gum Track links through to Logan Road at the old Scout Hut opposite Wishart Road. You can park at the Scout Hut to walk directly to Federation Lookout. The walk is quite interesting as it crosses Jo’s Creek before climbing towards the lookout..

Scribbly Gums - 10 Feb 2014

Scribbly Gums

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From the junction the track winds though Scribbly Gums Eucalyptus racemosa one of our iconic Australian trees that look like someone has been scribbling on the bark. “That can’t be scribbling, it is right up there metres above ground.” The scribbling is the work of moth larvae feeding on photosynthetic tissue just below the epidermal cells in the tree trunk.

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Bridge - 10 Feb 2014

Jo’s Creek Bridge

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Pause on the timber bridge crossing Jo’s Creek and watch for small forest birds..

Granby Street sign - 10 Feb 2014

Granby Street junction

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The Granby Street Track leads to Logan Road via Granby Street.

Federation Greebung junction - 10 Feb 2014

Federation Geebung Track junction

The track to Mt Gravatt Outlook is a solid climb gaining 55 metres in height over half a kilometre.

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I stopped where the Federation Track joined the Geebung Track to check restoration work on the degraded weedy area beside the track.

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Indigofera hirsuta - flower close - 7 Feb 2014
Hairy Indigo – Indigofera hirsuta

I am always pleasantly surprised at the resilience of our native flora and fauna species that hang on despite massive disruption by man and weed invasion. Among the metre high Guinea Grass Panicum maximum v maximum, Cobblers Pegs Bidens pilosa and Red Natal Grass Melinis repens, I found Slender Flat-sedge Cyperus gracilis, Creeping Beard Grass Oplismenus aemulus, Scrambling Lily Geitonoplesium cymosum and a healthy stand of Hairy Indigo Indigofera hirsuta an attractive native shrub which is caterpillar food plant for the Long-tailed Pea-blue and Common Grass-blue butterflies.

Blue Skimmer Dragonfly - close - 10 Feb 2014

Blue Skimmer Dragonfly

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I also spotted a Blue Skimmer Dragonfly Orthetrum caledonicum resting in the sun.

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Common Crow - 10 Feb 2014

Common Crow butterfly

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Following the Geebung Track to the Mt Gravatt Lookout I came across a number of Common Crow Euploea core butterflies performing mating flights.

Geebung Summit Track junction 10 Feb 2014

Geebung Summit Track junction

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The Geebung Track joins the Summit Track just short of the Lookout picnic area.

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Lookout picnic area

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Have a picnic with the family …

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Echidna Magic

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have lunch at Echidna Magic …

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Lookout playground

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enjoy the playground …

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Historical Societ plaque - 10 Feb 2014

Story of road builders

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or learn some local history.

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Old growth trees on steep slope

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After refilling my water bottle I returned to Gertrude Petty Place via the Summit Track which winds around the northern face of the mountain.

By: Jude Fox

Kookaburra feeding chicks - 25 Dec 2013

Kookaburra feeding chicks

On Christmas Day we noticed Kookaburras making regular visits to a nest box installed for Boobook Owls. Observing from the bush track, we watched as a parent Kookaburra landed in the entry of the nest box and heard a great chattering from inside as the parent bird’s head disappeared from view.

Later, using the go pro camera we were able to observe four Kookaburra chicks inside the nest box. Inspired by this finding, on Boxing Day we decided to investigate all the other nest boxes we had installed in the gully. This yielded three Glider boxes containing Gliders and two boxes containing Possums. The Possums were in a box intended for Pale Headed Rosellas and Kookaburras, proving that Possums don’t read nearly as well as do Gliders!!!

Including the nest box that the Lorikeets have used to hatch at least three clutches of chicks that we know of, this is a usage rate of about 75%…not bad for nest boxes that have only been in place just over a year.

Glider - 26 Dec 2013 Gliders - 26 Dec 2013 crop Possum - Pale Headed Box - 26 Dec 2013 crop Kookaburra chicks2 - 26 Dec 2013

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Griffith Bush Care Team

By: Michael Fox

Reviewing the photos preparing to write this blog it was like being there all over again. The laughter, the smiles, the generosity, the sharing of stories about families and different countries … it was one of the most inspiring bushcare events I have attended.

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Bamboo Team in action

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Bamboo roots grubbed out for disposal

Working on the “Bamboo Team” I learned about the different qualities of bamboo and the preferences of Pandas for the tender new shoots. I heard the story of a person so inspired by their Chinese school principal father that they followed their undergraduate business degree with a PhD focused on education so they can give back to their community with education. I talked with a student that is studying international relations and shared his vision of how his career could go in directions directions ranging from trade negotiations to more general diplomatic work, all of which will clearly be underpinned by an intelligence and  compassion that gives me hope for future global relations.

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Walking through the Sagano bamboo forest, in Arashiyama, Japan, was a special experience. A bamboo is forest is beautiful and peaceful producing strong versatile valuable wood. However bamboo does not belong in the Australian bush. Once established in the Reserve the bamboo spread and over a huge area crowding out native plants and making monoculture so thick it was impenetrable to wildlife. Removing bamboo is a hard work as all the roots have be dug out by hand for disposal off-site.

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Fishbone Team starts at bottom of slope

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The “Fishbone Team” worked to clear a huge area of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia on the slope. Working from the bottom the team removed the weeds and placed logs to stabilise the slope and provide access.

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Weilding the sledge - 24 Aug 2013

Banging in stakes to hold logs

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Bushcare participants get to do a bit of everything at Fox Gully. Wielding a sledge hammer is change from writing assignments.

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“Thanks for helping me find a feed.”

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They even met some of the local wildlife. The male Brush-turkey Alectura lathami was working on his nest mound when the team arrived. Then one of the local Kookaburras came to visit looking for a feed in the area that has been cleared.

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Huge area cleared of Fishbone and logs in place

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Morning tea time and we have achieved an amazing amount of valuable restoration work. The Fishbone Team has cleared a huge area on the slope and installed logs to manage erosion and allow safe access.

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Composting weeds

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A large pile of Fishbone leaves have been added to the compost pile and sixteen garbage bags have been filled with the roots of Fishbone and bamboo.

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Looking for lunch

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The Kookaburra has come back to inspect the results and look for lunch …

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Catching a fat spider for lunch

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Spotting a nice fat Huntsman spider he flies down right among the team, snaps the spider and flies off again.

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Mirandha hamming it up for the camera

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At the finish shaking each person’s hand and thanking them for their contribution was a real pleasure and a singular honour. However, I must acknowledge Mirandha Escott-Burton whose vision and persistence has created the Griffith Bush Care  which is becoming a valuable source of volunteers supporting our restoration work and providing a real Australian bush experience for international students.

Mirandha is building a partnership between Griffith University Student Linx and Mt Gravatt Environment Group.

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November 2011

By: Michael Fox

2011 Our first Community Gully Day, two years ago, saw the removal of six cubic metres of rubbish, poisonous Yellow Oleander Thevetia peruviana and Madeira Vine Anredera cordifolia, stabilised the banks with logs leaving the ground bare and storm water pipes a visual blight.

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November 2012

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2012 Between Gully Days restoration work continues with regular Tuesday Bushcare events. Mirandha, Griffith University Bushcare Club, feeds Chinese Elm branches into out chipper.

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August 2013

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Coin-spot Treeferns Cyathea cooperi are thriving, bush foods like Native Mulberry Pipturus argenteus will growing and the storm water pipes are disappearing under branches creating ideal habitat for lizards and improving visual amenity.

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Living mulch - 11 Aug 2013

Living Mulch reducing erosion and creating mico-habitat

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2013 8am The team getting to work, Scott, Barry, Carol, Don and Marshal in background, with Matt and myself delivering hollow logs for habitat.

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November 2012

Note the amazing mico-habitat created by the Living Mulch of native grasses – Rainforest Grass Oplismenus aemulus, Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillima, and self-sown herbs like Native Hawksbeard Youngia japonica.

Even without the tree cover this area was several degrees cooler than the area just a little down the gully.

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Marshal Carol Scott removing weeds - 11 Aug 2013

Clearing weed regrowth

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A huge change from November 2012 when the gully was still bare.

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Madeira Vine tuba - 5 Mar 13

Madeira Vine tuba removed from gully

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8:30am Scott, Carol and Marshal have been busy clearing Mother-in-law’s Tongue Sansevieria trifasciata and Madeira Vine regrowth.

Matt Mike hollow log (low) - 11 Aug 2013

Matt and I install habitat log

Matt Russ Shawn placing logs 2 - 11 Aug 2013

Matt, Russ and Shawn positioning logs

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Eradicating Madeira Vine in the gully is a long term project. The most effective removal approach for this fast growing invasive weed is simply digging out and immediately bagging the tubers. Madeira produced hundreds of tubers along the vine. Those tubers are viable for a long time and sprout like potatoes when they land in a suitable environment. The size of these tubers mean that using poison is often not an effective particularly in a vulnerable water course.

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9am Matt and I install one of the hollow logs donated by Scott at Tree Bracers (eco-friendly) Tree Removal Specialists.  Scott contacted me asking if we could use the logs as he did not want to simply chip this valuable habitat resource. Roger Medland and I collected the logs in Rogers ute.

Marshal splitting logs - 16 Jul 2013

Marshal splitting logs for stablising banks

Hollow logs are valuable habitat for wildlife and installing these logs will provide Possums and Gliders safe escape from Foxes and cats.

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9:30am Matt, Russ and Shawn are positioning logs on the bank further down the gully. Logs reduce erosion, allow mulch and leaves to collect retaining water and keeping weeds down. Restoration work is also much faster and safer as the logs create a working platform for removing weeds and planting grasses, vines and trees.

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The logs were recycled from a tree removed after the January storms. Dale from Climb n Grind returned to safely remove the tree leaving the trunk cut to useful lengths. Marshal and I then used a chainsaw and steel wedges to split the logs into manageable quarters ready for the Gully Day.

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Len Kann with Stingless Bee hive

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10:30am Time for a break. Genevieve has organised a sausage sizzle, coffee, tea, cake and fruit … mmmm.

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Teddy Bear and Blue Banded native bees

While we eat, native bee expert and Mt Gravatt Environment Group member, Len Kann shares his passion for this fascinating wildlife we can bring to our backyards to pollinate our Queensland Nut trees and vegetables.

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Stingless bee hive (low) - 11 Aug 2013

Inside the hive – Stingless Bees

Len explained that there are over 2,000 native bee species in Australia with many providing farmers with unique pollination services not provided by European Honey bees.

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Rebecca planting

Len has put together a bee presentation box using one of his own empty hive boxes, specimen boxes with Blue Banded and Teddy Bear bees that we have collected in the Reserve, and excellent macro photos taken by member Alan Moore.

Len has generously provided one of his Stingless Bee hives on secondment in the gully and for his talk he bought along a hive he could open to let us see inside. For an ex-beekeeper like me it was fascinating to see the very different structure for storing honey and pollen, and, yes, it is nice not to collect the dozen of stings I received when robbing my European bee hives.

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11am Rebecca is back to work planting the bank behind her property.

I am proud to live in a community that can come together on a long term project like this. Currently the owners of twenty properties are committed to restoration of their backyards as a wildlife corridor down Fox Gully and importantly work together to eradicate Madeira Vine.

We had twenty people participate in the 2013 Community Gully Day including people like Marshal and Carol who live beside Firefly Gully, Nancy who has propagated most of the Lomandras in the gully and Len who shared his passion for native bees.

Three hundred grasses, herbs, vines, shrubs and trees have been planted this year. Save Our Waterways Now (SOWN) generously gifted $400 worth of plants with other plants and resources purchased with over $200 in tax deductible donations from neighbours.

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Ochna removed with Tree Popper

By: Michael Fox

Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata is one of the most difficult woody weeds to remove or even poison.

One of our key Bushcare tools, the Tree Popper is an ideal weapon to attack Ochna and no poison required.

Ochna bushes commonly have extraordinarily deep tap roots out of proportion to the size of the bush. This Ochna removed at Fox Gully Bushcare is an excellent example – a thick 60cm tap root hidden under a tiny bush.

The Tree Popper is an excellent tool for Bushcare work however best results are obviously achieved when the ground is soft after rain.

Echidna - front - Demmers - 24 June 2013

Echidna - Tachyglossus aculeatus

By: Michael Fox

“My wife says this Echidna was near our house in Mt Gravatt this morning. I am very jealous!! Apparently it bumbled around for ages.” Pieter emailed me today with these amazing photos.

I am jealous as well. I am yet to see an Echidna in the Reserve even though I have walked every track and spent hundreds of hours in bushcare and taking photos.

Early mornings and late afternoon is the time to look for Echidnas as they tend to avoid the hotter times of day.

 

Echidna - Demmers - 24 June 2013

Termite exterminator at work

If you spot an Echidna you can report the sighting to Wildlife Queensland’s Echidna Watch program which is gathering information on the distribution and abundance of Echidnas.

These unique animals are not just another interesting native animal they are are also valuable urban pest controllers protecting our homes by eating termites as well as ants and, apparently, dirt.

Restoration work at our Bushcare sites is improving habitat. However all mountain neighbours can help by not dumping garden waste/lawn clippings in the bushland and not removing fallen timber for firewood.

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Click on image to enlarge for reading

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The 2011 report Mimosa Creek Precinct – Flora, Fauna and Fauna Corridor Assessment,  by Biodiversity Assessment & Management Pty Ltd, identified a lack of fallen timber as a key weakness in the mountain habitat. Fallen logs create ideal food sources for Echidnas as they attract termites and ants. These logs also provide protection as Echidnas avoid extremes in temperature by sheltering in hollow logs, rock crevices and vegetation.

Local Council Ranger, Craig Hardie, has recently distributed letters to properties adjoining the Reserve to highlight the importance of not removing vegetation including fallen logs.

We are lucky to have such a unique habitat right in at our backdoor. I often have people ask amazed: “Koalas are just roaming free?” Therefore, as a community, we have a responsibility to protect this valuable asset by:

  • not dumping rubbish or garden waste; and
  • keeping dog’s on leash within the Reserve.

Like Koalas, the main threats to Echidnas are cars and dogs. If you are walking in the Reserve please keep your dog on a leash.

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