Bushcare


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“Keep up the good work. I can find more worms.”

By: Michael Fox

The locals definitely approve of our Friday Bushcare at Roly Chapman Reserve. Every Friday morning a family of Grey Butcherbirds Cracticus torquatus joins us to hunt worms, spiders and bush cockroaches uncovered as we clear the weeds and let in the sun.

Cheese Tree - regrowth - 19 June 2015 - Roly Chapman

Regrowth of Cheese Trees

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As we clear the weeds and let the light in, Cheese Trees Glochidion and other native species are sprouting new growth.

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Arrowhead Vine Syngonium podophyllum - 19 June 2015 - Roly Chapman

Weed regrowth – Arrowhead Vine

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Unfortunately, letting in the sun also allows the weed species to regenerate. Most weed can be composted on-site, however, in future we will bag and remove any Arrowhead Vine Syngonium podophyllum.

The Weeds of Australia Fact Sheet describes Arrowhead Vine as:

Arrowhead Vine Syngonium podophyllum - roots - 19 June 2015 - Roly Chapman

Roots on Arrowhead Vine

A rampant creeper or climbing plant that grows over other vegetation, often reaching 5-10 m or more in height when climbing larger trees.

Stem segments and cuttings are commonly dispersed in dumped garden waste and woodchips. Once established, a plant will spread outwards, forming a colony, and taking root wherever its stems touch the ground. Stem segments can also be spread by mowers, slashes and floodwaters.

Weeds of Australia Fact Sheet

Most of the weeds in our first compost pile have rotted down to soil. However, the Arrowhead Vine is not composting but growing through up to 300mm of mulch cover to sprout new leaves.Normally we use black plastic to promote heat aid composting and cook weed seeds. Because the current restoration site at Roly Chapman is so close to the path people were removing the plastic covering. A Security Planting of Lomandras beside the track will progressively reduce random access to the restored area.

Small Leaved Privet - bush - 5 June 2015 lr

Small Leaved Privet

By: Michael Fox

Discriminating between environmental weeds and similar looking native species can be difficult at times:

Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) may also be confused with native privet (Ligustrum australianum), which is present in northern and central Queensland. Native privet is not a pest plant. (Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries)

Working at Roly Chapman Reserve Bushcare with Liz and Marshal, I was confident we were dealing with a grove of Small Leaved Privet but to be sure I Googled the Ag and Fisheries site.

Small Leaved Privet - 5 June 2015 - cropped

Small Leaved Privet – seeds

The description matched except for “Deep-green finely hairy leaves”. Deep-green was right but the leaves looked smooth not hairy.

Liz and I had both watched Todd Sampson’s Redesign My Brain on ABC the night before. In the series Todd works with Dr. Michael Merzenich, Chief Scientific Officer, Posit Science, to explore brain training. Our sense of touch was one area explored in the program so Liz and I decided to experiment with our sense of touch to detect fine hairs we could not see.

Running our fingers then thumbs over the leaves we could feel the “finely hairy” even though we could not see it. Apparently we have 3,000 touch receptors or neurons in each finger tip. However, we lose neurons as we age reducing our touch sensitivity. Brain training can help compensate for the loss of neurons. Interestingly both Liz and I found that, like Todd, our thumbs were more sensitive to touch.

To actually see the fine hairs on the Privet leaf I had to take a macro-photo with my iPhone and AlloClip adapter. Click on photo to enlarge further.

Small Leaved Privet - finely hairy - 5 June 2015 - cropped

.Small Leaved Privet Ligustrum sinense …. Finely hairy too fine to see? Use your touch instead. Photo: iPhone with alloclip

2015 National Tree Day

Small Forest Bird Habitat Planting

Sunday 26 July – 9am to 12noon

Eastern Spinebill 3 - 23 June 2014

Eastern Spinebill Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris

Meet at junction of Federation and Geebung Tracks
Fox Gully Bushcare – Mt Gravatt Environment Group
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Small forest birds need a variety of food ranging from nectar and grass seeds to insects. Also vegetation that provides safety for feed and nesting.

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G Mates group - 26 July 2014

Griffith Mates – 2014 National Tree Day

Join Griffith Mates students and community members for 2015 National Tree Day planting to establish the Small Bird Habitat display garden and plant Koala trees.

Children welcome with adults.

Wear enclosed shoes & hat.
Morning tea and equipment provided.

Easter Cassia flower - 15 May 2015

Easter Cassia Senna pendula var. glabrata

By: Michael Fox

Around Easter each year you can see the beautiful yellow splashes of colour in our urban bushland as the environmental weed Easter Cassia Senna pendula var. glabrata comes into flower.

Our last Friday Bushcare at Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve focused on clearing Easter Cassia before another season’s crop of seed matures and spreads the weed further.

Easter Cassia seed pods - 15 May 2015

Easter Cassia seed pods

Diamond-leaf Pittosporum - Auranticarpa rhombifolia - 15 May 2015 lr

Australian Holly/Christmas Berry Ardisia crenata

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Easter Cassia produces beautiful flowers for much of the year. However, it also produces large numbers of seed pods spreading from gardens into urban bushland and shading out native plant species.

You can help protect our bushland by replacing Easter Cassia with native Sennas which have yellow flowers, grow to a similar 2 to 3 metres in height and attract a range of butterflies to your garden. See Toowoomba Plants article on native Sennas and butterflies.

Attractive garden plants like Australian Holly/Christmas Berry Ardisia crenata often become environmental weeds in our urban bushland as they are dumped at garden waste or spread by birds. The moist conditions within Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve make this important habitat particularly vulnerable to invasion by Ardisia crenata.

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Chinese Elm - 15 May 2015

Chinese Elm removed with Treepopper

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We also used the Treepopper to remove a well established Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis. Another garden escapee that crowds out native plant species vital to our native birds, butterflies and bees.

When ever possible we avoid using poison. Instead we pull woody weeds up roots and all with the Treepopper.

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Grey Butcherbird - 15 May 2015

Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus

Our bush restoration work is very satisfying as we clear the weeds and watch the regrowth of native habitat. And every Friday as we work we are joined by a family of Grey Butcherbirds Cracticus torquatus looking for breakfast of spiders, centipedes and bush cockroaches. These birds are so used to us now that they will land on a branch right beside you and pose while you take photos or sing cheerful tunes that seem to be thank-you songs.

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Griffith Mates (l-r) Laura, Lothar, Vikram, Sienna and Herman

By: Michael Fox

The Griffith Mates team helped us reach an important milestone last week. The final stage of a five year project was reached as the last patch of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia has been cleared at our Fox Gully Bushcare site Zone 13.

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Fishbone jungle - 11 May 2013

Lost in Fishbone jungle

A team from FWR Group started the daunting task of clearing the Fishbone jungle from the gully.

In its natural environment, Fishbone Fern is usually found growing in rocky areas, on rainforest margins, or as an epiphyte on palm trees in the wetter parts of tropical and sub-tropical Australia. (Weeds of Australia)

CVA team Fox Gully - 22 May 2013 2

Conservation Volunteers (CVA) team

In urban areas where Fishbone Fern has been cultivated as a garden plant it has escaped into remaining patches of bushland crowding out indigenous species. Six species of native fern are indigenous to the Fox Gully habitat. Removal of the weed is allowing natural regeneration of indigenous grasses, ferns and vines.

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Removing Fishbone Fern is a time consuming job so the support of a team from Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) was a major boost for the project.

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White-banded Plane -25 Apr 2015

Common or Varied Eggfly Hypolimnas bolina

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It is a particular pleasure to welcome Griffith Mates back as they always have a great interest in our local wildlife. They even insisted on walking through the forest from Mt Gravatt Campus.

So it was good to be able to show this perfect specimen of Common Aeroplane Phaedyma shepherdi butterfly posing on a Spotted Gum Corymbia citriodora.

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Squirrel Glider - 25 Apr 2015

Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis

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We finished the morning by checking the nest-boxes introducing our visitors to some of our cutest wildlife.

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Magnified Native Cherry

“That is a tiny flower.” Photo: Herman Kai

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And Australia’s smallest flower on Native Cherry Exocarpos cupressiformis. Looking for flowering bushfood trees is difficult when you need to carry a magnifying glass.

Willow Bottlebrush -Flower - 20 Mar 2015

Willow Bottlebrush Callistemon salignus

By: Michael Fox

If you want a gentle walk or ride though the bush, Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve is worth a visit and the new cycle path crossing Mimosa Creek expands community access to this special place.

Damselfly - 30 Mar 2015

Damselfly (blue) – not identified

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Kate and Liz inspecting new planting

Walking through the Reserve last Friday morning with Liz Pell, restoration project leader and Kate Flink, BCC Habitat Brisbane, was particularly special as I was immersed in a world filled with the scent of honey from the flowering Willow Bottlebrush trees Callistemon salignus and the chattering of dozens of Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus drunk on the nectar.

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Mimosa Creek in flood – 23 March 2015

Roly Chapman Bushland is very different to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve because it has permanent water flowing though Mimosa Creek. Walk quietly as you cross Mimosa Creek. It is common to see turtles in the creek, Eastern Water Dragons Pogona barbata sunning on the rocks. Last Friday Dragonflies and Damselflies were also everywhere resting on leaves or skimming over the water.

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Post flood – no damage to planting

The new cycle path  is a credit to the Brisbane City Council Bikeways Project team and the contractors who did the work. The BCC designers minimised the impact on this sensitive habitat. The new track weaves to reduce loss of trees and, at the same time, creating an interesting and pleasant route instead of a straight strip of concrete. Even the installation of cabling for lights minimised impact on trees by using vacuum excavation around the roots.

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The quality of the restoration planting is evidenced by seeing virtually no damage after the flood water over the track in January. None of the new Lomandras were lost and the fibre matting is hardly disturbed.

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Orchard Swallowtail caterpillar - 20 Mar 2015

Orchard Swallowtail caterpillar

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Further along the track only one of the new trees has been lost – we normally consider anything than 80% survival is very good for restoration planting. Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus butterflies are already breeding on the advanced Crow’s Ash Flindersia australis planted.

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Blue Tiger - 5 Jan 2014

Blue Tiger feeding on Blackthorn 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 Blackthorn 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.

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