Building homes for birds and bees

 

By: Michael Fox

Kids and mud … always a winning formula.

Jake Slinger and I led a Pollinator Link® workshop for the Nature Rangers at Downfall Creek Bushland Centre yesterday.

Australia has over 2,000 species of solitary native bees. Solitary bees do not form live in a hive or produce honey however they are the most effective pollinators for our backyard vegetable gardens.

Blue Banded Amegilla sp. and Teddy Bear Amegilla sp. native bees do buzz pollination. Blue Banded bees shake pollen out by banging the flower with its head. Common edible plants such as tomatoes, blueberries and eggplant need buzz pollination which cannot be provided by European Honey bees.

Mud Puddling - 16 April 2019

Kids and mud 

Homes for Burrowers (Shelter)

Female Blue Banded and Teddy Bear bees make nests in the ground which they fill with pollen and nectar, lay their eggs then seal. When the egg hatch in spring the young bees feed on the stored food before burrowing out and getting to work pollinating our vegetable gardens.

Step 1: Make the mud. Garden soil, add water then stir with lots of laughter.

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Make a mud pie in concrete block. Add more laughter.

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Finish with starter holes for bees wanting to nest.

Leave Bee Home to dry then install in a place sheltered from rain.

 

 

Homes for Birds 

Bee Homes completed, the Nature Rangers worked on building nest boxes to provide homes for birds. Clearing trees for building houses means that there is a lack of nest hollows for birds and other species like Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis.

Timber for the nest boxes is reused hardwood ply donated by Benchmark Scaffolding at Yatala and pre-cut at Carina Mens Shed. Box design came from “Nest boxes for wildlife: A practical guide” by Alan & Stacey Franks of Hollow Log Homes.

First step in box construction is learning to use a hammer correctly. It is less about size and strength and more about letting the weight of the hammer to do the work.

Blunting nails - 16 April 2019

Blunting nails

 

Everyone had a go at using a hammer and quickly got the hang of letting the hammer do the work. “That is much easier.”

Another tip we shared is to blunt nail heads when nailing timber that splits easily.

 

 

 

 

Jigs simplify assembly - 16 Aprild 2019

Jigs simplify construction

 

Jigs prepared at Carina Mens Shed are used to simplify assembly.

 

 

 

New bird homes - 16 April 2019

Finished nest boxes ready for installation

 

New homes ready for installation. The Downfall Creek team will arrange installation of the new homes for our homeless urban birds.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bushcare, Pollinator Link, Wildlife Corridor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fox Gully Wildlife Corridor

By: Michael Fox

Kookaburra Legless Lizard - 11 March 2019

 

 

Benno and I spent Thursday morning restoring another section of Fox Gully Wildlife Corridor.

Laughing Kookaburras Dacelo novaeguineae love to join us at Bushcare, typically finding a handy perch where they are ready to swoop on any tasty snack like this legless lizard.

 

Some of the wildlife avoided the attentions of our Kookaburra visitor. We found a female Common Net-casting Spider Deinopis ravidus. Net-casting spiders have a fascinating technique for catching lunch. They don’t make a permanent web but sit with a net between their front legs ready to to catch ants, beetles or spiders.

Bark Cockroach - Laxta sp. - 11 April 2019

Bark Cockroach Laxta sp.

 

Bark Cockroachs Laxta sp. provide valuable recycling services composting leaf litter and improving soil.

 

 

 

Steps to gully - 11 April 2019

Gully access steps

 

Steep sides make gully restoration complex so the first step is building access steps. Working from the bottom clearing weeds facing uphill is much safer and faster. Logs or recycled hardwood can then be installed to provide a safe work place and manage erosion.

Restoring the Wildlife Corridor is community effort to clear rubbish and remove the invasive Madeira Vine Anredera cordifolia in the backyards linking Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve down to Klumpp Road. We are working with Cr Steve Hung to develop a plan for a wildlife bridge across Klumpp Road to link to Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve.

 

 

Posted in Bushcare, Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve, Pollinator Link, Roly Chapman Reserve Bushcare, Wildlife Corridor | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rail Trails

Disused country and urban rail easements present excellent opportunities to create wildlife corridors as well as people paths.

Bush, Beaches and Being Alive: My Queensland

“We power on, trying to sense the walls beside us, ears and eyes straining for anyone coming from the other direction. It’s like holding your breath with your eyes.”

Cycling through a tunnel on the rail trail near Matarraña, Spain. Scary, but exciting, according to Con O’Brien, author of The Ebro Drift blog.

The Matarraña trail is just one of thousands of rail trails all over the world. Rail tracks no longer in use are pulled up, railbeds resurfaced, bridges and tunnels checked for safety. In some places old station buildings are converted to cafes or guesthouses. Railway gradient is perfect for cyclists and walkers, the countryside is interesting, and whether for long journeys or short sections, the trails provide great opportunities to exercise and travel at the same time.

Rail trails are international tourism magnets.

IMG_1996 Railway track just visible through the wildflowers on The High Line, NYC

In New…

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Building highway for wildlife Karawatha Forest

Compton Road fauna bridge lr

Compton Road Wildlife Bridge 2018

By: Michael Fox

A beautiful day for a walk in the bush. I joined Professor Darryl Jones, Griffith University and members of Karawatha Protection Society for a field trip to explore the Fauna Movement Solutions linking Kuraby Forest and Karawatha Forest across Compton Road.

The discipline of Movement Ecology only developed around 2002 so building this innovative wildlife bridge in 2005 was a bold step. At the time traffic on the two lane Compton Road was rapidly increasing with a consequent increase in road kill. The Brisbane City Council decision to widen the road to four lanes was both a threat and an opportunity if the partnership of Karawatha Protection Society and Griffith University could change the existing thinking from protect wildlife by keeping it off the road to making the road ‘transparent’ to wildlife.

Micro-bat corridor use lr

Micro-bats use wildlife bridge

In his presentation Darryl Jones highlighted the importance of community groups in driving change even when the science is clear. What makes this project courageous is the fact that the science of Movement Ecology was only just evolving and researchers have since found many unexpected results.

 

Small birds are one surprising user of the wildlife bridge. Small birds will normally not cross a wide gap in the forest canopy so being limited to an island habitat they are vulnerable local extinction events like bushfire. The other surprise is the behaviour of micro-bats. The concrete arch sections have become unexpected Shelter with micro-bats making homes in the gaps in arch sections. Each night the bats emerge to forage in the surrounding forests. Monitoring with ultrasonic (anabat) recorders shows no activity above the road (white), significant activity about 100 metres from the road (yellow) however the wildlife bridge itself was a hotspot (bright red) for micro-bat activity transiting from forest to forest.

Wildlife corridor

New Illaweena Street wildlife bridge

As part of the Logan [Motorway] Enhancement Project Transurban Queensland is building sophisticated fauna movement solutions including a new wildlife bridge across Illaweena Street which will reduce the road kill on that increasingly busy road and allow for future expansion to four lanes. Combined with underpasses and rope bridges this will create excellent fauna movement solutions linking Kuraby through Karawatha Forest to habitat at Parkinson.

 

Posted in B4C Bulimba Creek Catchement Coordinating Committee, Wildlife Corridor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nature Rangers make Backyard Bee Homes

Downfall Creek Bushland CentreBy: Michael Fox

I’m not sure who was having more fun  during the Backyard Bee Home Workshop at Downfall Creek Bushland Centre yesterday.

The Downfall Team host a number of school holiday Nature Ranger activities. Jake Slinger and I represented Pollinator Link® building Bee Homes with the Nature Rangers.Solitary Bee Homes ver 2.5

 

Working with the Nature Rangers was great fun.

I introduced them to some of the 2,000 species of solitary native bees and the different types of nests the female creates in hollows, in the ground or by carpenter bees chewing into soft timber.

The Rangers then dived into assembling their individual Bee Homes using bamboo for Leaf-cutter Bees and Lantana for carpenter bees.

Backyard Bee Homes - 25 Sept 2018

Amazing artists decorating Bee Homes

What really blew me away was the artwork they created. We provided a “How to draw a bee” guide from ArtforKidsHub.com, multi-coloured Sharpies and the Rangers went to work producing amazing artwork to decorated their Bee Homes.

 

 

 

Downfall Creek Bushland Centre is a great location for environment related workshops with conference facilities and outdoor areas.

 

 

 

 

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Building homes for Brisbane birds

By: Michael Fox

Building team - 12 Sept 2018

Home Building team: (l-r) Frank, Mabanza, myself, Andy, Salinda, Greg, Jackson, Dulcie, Ryan and Jack

Meet the proud team building new homes for Brisbane birds.

Yesterday, I joined Frank, Mabanza, Andy, Salinda, Greg, Jackson, Dulcie, Ryan, Jack and Chris Lockhart SQW Project Supervisor at the Hendra Pony Club site for our second workshop making nest boxes.

Skilling Queenslanders for Work project of the Nundah Community Living Association Inc. is training and inspiring participants in environmental habitat restoration.

Presenting SQW - 12 Sept 2018

Introducing Pollinator Link

A nest box building workshop for future habitat heroes is a great opportunity to share the Pollinator Link® vision.

I first introduced participants to the threat of urban habitat loss and opportunities for creation for of a new city wide wildlife habitat by providing Water, Food and Shelter in backyards, balcony gardens, school yards and council parks to complement the island habitats like Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

Team in action - 12 Sept 2018

Build team in action

We then moved onto the reason for the workshop: a critical shortage of tree hollows for hollow nesting birds and other species like Brisbane’s vulnerable Squirrel Glider.

Working with the build team was a real pleasure. They loved learning new skills and were happy to step up and show other team members how to something.

Painting - 12 Sept 2018

Waterproofing

Box design was from Hollow Log Homes’ book “Nest boxes for wildlife : a practical guide”. Also available from BCC Libraries. Timber for the nest boxes was cut to size by the Carina Men’s Shed. The Shed also provided invaluable assembly jigs that allowed the team to produce a consistent quality box.

Last step was a coat of Lanotec Timber Seal an eco-friendly low toxicity lanolin-based waterproofing.

Salinda on the job - 13 Sept 2018

Salinda installing Scaly-breasted Lorikeet box

 

This morning I re-joined the team to install two nest boxes in trees at the Pony Club site.

 

 

 

Frank installing Rainbow box - 13 Sept 2018

Frank installing Rainbow Lorikeet box

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun in the sun: Installation Team

Installation team - 13 Sept 2018

Enter a Fun in the sun: Installation Team (l-r) Frank, Salinda, Halima, Greg, Andy, Jackson, Gilby, Ryan, Abraham (CLA), Mabanza, Jack, Chris Lockhart

 

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Greening Moorooka Pollinator Link

Lifetime Service Award 2 - 17 June 2018 lowres

(l-r) Cr Steve Griffiths, John, Maureen, Barbara, Mark Bailey MP

By: Michael Fox

 

Today I had the honour of meeting the Greening Moorooka [Bushcare] Group who have been building a Pollinator Link between the western section of Toohey Forest and Moolabin Creek.

Today’s event was a community planting in Moolabin Park to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Greening Moorooka Group’s work restoring and protecting a chain of parkland forming a wildlife corridor linking Toohey Forest with Moolabin Creek which feeds into Oxley Creek.

The chain of parks: Mayfield Gardens, Peggs Park, Koala Park, Moolabin Park, follow the line of a creek that originally rose in Toohey Forest.

In 1998 the Group started planting in Mayfield Gardens then progressively move through restoring Peggs and Koala Parks to Moolabin Park.

This has been a real community partnership with Brisbane City Council with the Group taking anonymous green spaces and bringing them to life with names for the individual parks. In the process approximately thirty parcels of land have been protected from development as housing. The Group have also been instrumental in facilitating the enhancement of the parks for community use with:

  •  creation of a pond and viewing platform in Pegg’s Park;
  • installation of a half-court basketball court, interpretative signs and playground equipment; and
  • bike paths.

Maureen is particularly proud of the way the bike paths  and amenities have brought young and old into the park as a destination in itself and as an avenue for exercise and recreation: safe community space.

Bushcare Family - 17 June 2018 lowres

A special family: John, Maureen, Rachel and Ryan

“The bike paths have made a huge difference for community members. I was a really pleased when one day I saw a woman drop off an elderly man at the entry to one of the parks and then drive around to the other end to pick him up. The bike paths have created a place where he can get his exercise.” Jean Rousseaux

A founding member, Jean’s vision fuelled the group for many years.

John and Maureen have a special story of their own. Two of the original founding members of Greening Moorooka Group they have been joined first by Rachel then Ryan. The smiles tell the story of a special family proud of what they have achieved for their community.

Long-term/founding members including Cr Steve Griffiths, Kathleen, Barbara, Helen, MaryAnne were also there to celebrate.

Pollinator Link fence sign - 17 June 2018 lowres

Register to receive your Pollinator Link fence sign.

A beautiful sunny morning in the park, what a great opportunity to introduce Pollinator Link  to community members who really understand the importance creating habitat for our urban wildlife.

I fielded a lot of questions about building Habitat Tripods to provide food and shelter for small birds, the importance of Planting Local to Feed Locals, using GroNative app and where to get local south-east Queensland plants: Community Nurseries.

Congratulations to the Greening Moorooka Group on 20 years of valuable visionary contribution to our wildlife and community.

Greening Moorooka members also acknowledge ongoing support of the Habitat Brisbane team and lobbying by the local councillors whose efforts have been instrumental in facilitating our work and the provision of amenities in the parks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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