Bushcare


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

Diamond-leaf Pittosporum Auranticarpa rhombifolia

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.

Environmental weeds like Easter Cassia shade out native plant species like this Diamond-leaf Pittosporum Auranticarpa rhombifolia we uncovered as we cleared the Easter Cassia.

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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 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.

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.

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.

Track sign Roly Chapman - 29 Oct 2014 - lowres

Cr Krista Adams – new bike path map

By: Michael Fox

Photography: Alan Moore

Inspecting the new bike path through Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve today with  Cr Krista Adams, I commented on the professionalism and design sensitivity the BCC Bikeways Project team and contractors working is a sensitive habitat area.

Cr Krista Adams is a strong supporter of our bush restoration work and keen to explore ways to balance pressure of our urban environment with valuable bushland remnant habitat.

Brisbane best bike path - 29 Oct 2014

Path curves to minimise tree loss

The Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan identified the bike path will support long term investment in habitat restoration within Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve as community access is enhanced. The more community members value the Reserve as peaceful place to walk or ride, the more the City Council can allocate to habitat restoration and building wild life corridors.

Connecting with the existing path, near the Hoad Street entry to the Reserve, the new bike/walking path weaves its shady way among valuable Ironbarks, Scribbly Gums and Queensland Blue Gums – Koala’s favorite food tree, before crossing Mimosa Creek to link with the Klumpp Road Park & Ride.

Vegetation Communities and Connectivity Options BAAM

Vegetation Communities – BAAM 2011

Thoughtful planning has been critical to minimise impacts on vegetation as it is boarded by two significant remnant vegetation communities identified in the 2011 BAMM corridor assessment report.

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Restoration Mimosa Creek crossing

Aside from minimising tree loss with carefully planned curves, the design required the path to be laid above ground to reduce the impact excavation would have on tree roots. Running cabling for lights still required excavation however impact was reduced by use of vacuum excavation around significant tree roots. Were trees did have to be removed the logs were distributed in the bush to create habitat required by species like Echidnas that dig for insects living under fallen timber.

Wildlife Furniture - Mimosa Creek - 30 Oct 2014

Flow disruptors to support fish movement in flood conditions

Crossing Mimosa Creek was sensitive and restoration a work particularly important to manage erosion. One  bonus was removal of a large area of invasive Balloon Vine Cardiospermum grandiflorum and Madeira Vine Anredera cordifolia, as well as, a large Camphor Laurel Cinnamomum camphora.

One unexpected design feature was installation of animal or wildlife furniture in the creek crossing. I had never heard to term “wildlife furniture” before Krista introduced the term when we inspected the creek crossing. BCC designers draw on a range of “furniture” used to create wildlife corridors for everything koalas and gliders to lizards.

In this case heavy water flows in local flood conditions required the installation flow disruptors to allow fish and turtles to move upstream.

Working with the huge City Council bureaucracy can be frustrating, however, the size of the organisation means that it also has the capacity to draw on high quality expert teams for projects.

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