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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Planting Habitat Tripod Crosby Road Bushcare

Group co-leader Nick - 27 May 2018

Group Co-leader Nick beside Habitat Tripod

By: Michael Fox

I joined the Crosby Road Bushcare team last Saturday to plant up the Habitat Tripod with vines and shrubs that will create safe habitat for small birds like Fairy Wrens to nest.

 

 

 

Climbing Guinea Flower - Hibbertia scandens - flower - 13 Oct 2016

Climbing Guinea Flower

Vines and creepers were planted to climb the legs of the tripod create an attractive garden feature that is also scrubby habitat for small birds.

Climbing Guinea Flower Hibbertia scandens with its large bright yellow flowers in Spring and Summer is popular with native bees like the Great Carpenter Bees genus Xylocopa

 

Native Sarsaparilla - Hardenbergia violacea - seed pod - 12 Sept 2016

Native Sarsaparilla

 

Native Sarsaparilla Hardenbergia violacea producing purple flowers in Winter and Spring is caterpillar food plant for the Common Grass-blue Zizina labradus butterfly and provides for for seed eating and seed eating birds.

 

 

 

 

Group co-leader Cori planting - 27 May 2018

Group Co-leader Cori planting

 

The Bushcare team also did infill planting to complement past planting.

 

 

 

Mulching new plants

Mulching new planting

 

 

Mulch was spread around new plants to retain water and keep the soil cool.

 

 

 

Creeping Boobialla - Myoporum parvifolium - flower - Crosby Road Bushcare - 26 May 2018

Creeping Boobialla

 

Effectiveness of the Crosby Road Bushcare team’s planting protocol can be seen in rapid spread of Creeping Boobialla Myoporum parvifolium which has covered large areas beside the steps, flowers winter, spring and summer, and is already producing food for fruit eating birds.

 

Grey Butcherbird - Cracticus torquatus - Crosby Road Bushcare - 26 May 2018

Grey Butcherbird

 

Inspecting the work and having lunch on insects disturbed by the team was a handsome Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus.

Plant Local to Feed Locals.

Find discount local plant species to attract birds, butterflies and bees to your Pollinator Link garden.

 

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Plant Local to Feed Locals

By: Michael Fox

I just read an interesting article in Canadian Geographic: Inside the mysterious decline of Earth’s insects

Why are insects important?

If we want to bring beautiful birds like the Variegated Fairy-wren Malurus lamberti back to our urban gardens we need to provide their preferred Food: insects. As well as Water and Shelter.

The article is Canadian, however, the relationships between insects and our local birds is still relevant:

“We have only half the birds now that we had in the 1960s,” says migratory bird researcher Bridget Stutchbury during the preamble of “Songbird SOS,” a CBC Nature of Things episode that first aired in March 2015. While the investigations into the loss of bird species span everything from habitat loss to light pollution, pet cats and collisions with buildings, severe, long-term declines in insectivorous birds stand out as a possible proxy for a decline in their insect food sources. Such a broad-based factor is suggested in the nose-diving populations of 22 of 26 aerial insectivores that breed in Canada — including swifts, flycatchers, nightjars, swallows and whip-poor-wills.

The best way to preserve insect diversity and abundance is the same as it is for all animals — maintaining habitat and habitat diversity. It’s a subject on which Simon Fraser’s Elle has much to say. “If our farming practices aim to preserve diversity, then it will wind up being good for the farmer. For instance, preserving a hedgerow creates habitat for bees to nest in, and is also habitat for birds and small mammals. Preserving species on this planet can’t just be a thing we do out in the wildest spaces — it also has to happen in human landscapes,” she notes.

Those landscapes include cities, whose less-complex insect faunas reflect an environment of mostly invasive plant species and the monocultures common to landscaping. “In urban areas, the diversity of birds and insects in native trees versus non-native trees is higher. If we’re all living in cities, then we need to make them better,” says Sandy Smith, a forestry professor at the University of Toronto. “Currently we’re reducing things to something that either looks good or is easy to manage. It’s this kind of homogenization that worries me most because you’re creating a vulnerable world.”

Inside the mysterious decline of Earth’s insects. Canadian Geographic

Black-headed Skimmer Dragonfly - Crocothemis nigrifrons - 24 Apr 2018 cropped
Black-headed Skimmer Dragonfly  Crocothemis nigrifrons

Plant Local to Feed Locals is a key to creating a diversity of Food for birds like Variegated Fairy-wren Malurus lamberti and introducing team of free specialist pest controllers to protect your vegetable garden.

You can create habitat for both small bird and insects in your Pollinator Link® based on what we are learning with our small forest bird planting in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

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Give Mum Birds, Butterflies and Bees

Order your Pollinator Link Mother’s Day Gift Pack today.

Gift pack

Pack includes:

  • Pollinator Link® garden certification
  • Pollinator Link® fence sign and Blue-banded Bee on Google maps
  • Gardman Easyclean Cat-safe Birdbath
  • The Brisbane Bird Challenge Game:
    • create a family challenge
  • Pollinator Link® Discount Card
  • Three Easy Steps to vibrant backyards guide

Price: $40 inc GST

Scaly-breasted Lorikeet - 17 Feb 2014

Providing Water, Food and Shelter is the secret to bringing your garden alive with colour and birdsong. The quiet hum of bees in your veggie patch. You leave the city behind as you come home and relax with the peaceful sounds of nature.

Start your Mum’s journey to creation of a thriving Pollinator Link® garden with an attractive, easy to clean, cat safe birdbath.

Orchard Swallowtail - female - 2 Jan 2016

Pollinator Link® is a non-profit initiative of Mt Gravatt Environment Group. All funds raised are used to support the initiative to create a mosaic wildlife habitat across all south-east Queensland urban space.

Every Pollinator Link® garden, whether a large backyard or a balcony garden in a unit block, contributes to bringing birds, butterflies and bees back to our urban habitat.

Order Mother’s Day Gift Pack

 

Supported by

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Australian National Botanic Gardens

Sticky Everlasting - Xerochrysum viscosum - 3 Apr 2018

Golden Everlasting Xerochrysum viscosum

By: Michael Fox

Bright yellow Golden Everlastings provide a cheerful welcome to the Australian National Botanic Gardens (Canberra).

I particularly like ANBG because it recreates habitats ranging from rainforest gullies to central Australian desert, to present a wide variety of Australian plant species.

 

Australian Bluebell - Wahlenbergia stricta - 3 Apr 2018

Australian Bluebell Wahlenbergia stricta

Golden Everlastings Xerochrysum viscosum occur naturally in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian National Territory and Tasmania enjoying full sun and attracting native bees and feeding caterpillars of Australian Painted Lady butterflies. These spectacular plants are a great way to create a splash of colour in your Pollinator Link garden and your home as the flower heads can be easily cut, dried and preserved whist retaining colour for floral display.

Australian Bluebells Wahlenbergia stricta make a great show lining a “rocky creek” near the Visitor Centre. Australian Bluebells are widespread in most states and may often be seen flowering alongside highways in all habitats.

Austral Storks Bill - Pelargonium australe - 3 Apr 2018 - M Fox

Austral Storks Bill Pelargonium australe

A special discovery on this visit was Austral Storks Bill Pelargonium australe in flower. This beautiful hardy native geranium is widespread being found in semi arid, alpine areas and along the coast. Easy to propagate it grows well in containers with full sun or light shade so a good choice for Pollinator Link balcony gardens in unit blocks.

 

Native Wandering Jew - Aneilema acuminatum - 3 Apr 2018 - M Fox

 

Aneilema acuminatum Native Wandering Jew is an attractive delicate groundcover that can be used as Living Mulch to control weeds, retain water and keep the soil cool promoting soil health.

 

The most unusual discovery has to be the Banana Bush Tabernaemontana pandacaqui with its banana like fruit. An attractive and interesting plant occurring naturally in coastal Qld, northern NSW, WA and NT.  While its attractive white flowers and fascinating fruit the milky sap is toxic, similar to highly poisonous Oleander, so care should be taken.

Banana Bush - Tabernaemontana pandacaqui - 3 Apr 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cooee Motel: a surprise in country NSW

By: Michael Fox Gigandra

Travelling to Canberra over Easter and planning to visit the Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo, we needed somewhere to stay overnight. We found Cooee Motel, a real gem in the small country town of Gilgandra, three hundred and thirty kilometres north-west of Sydney Harbour and surrounded by farm land.

 

We were just expecting a basic motel suitable for an overnight stay. What we found was an oasis created by our generous hosts Tony and Lois Smolders. After ten hours on the road I was surprised and delighted to be able to explore a large garden that met all the criteria of a Pollinator Link garden #WaterFoodShelter for birds, butterflies and bees.

Almost immediately I spotted a beautiful Australian Painted Lady Vanessa kershawi butterfly. I then had a pleasant thirty minutes checking out mature Casuarina and Cypress pine trees.

Cypress sp. - 30 Mar 2018

Cypress sp. 

 

 

A number of old growth trees with nest hollows providing Shelter have also been retained. Tree branches have not been trimmed close to trunk which means nest hollows are left for birds and possums.

 

 

 

Nest hollows - 30 Mar 2018Talking with Lois and Tony, I asked if the garden was public park land. I could hear the pride in their voices as they explained that the land is part of the Motel site. Rather than develop the whole site they generously chose to retain the habitat for wildlife and in the process create a relaxing space for travellers.

The Water, Food and Shelter available in this special habitat is used by Australian King-Parrots Alisterus scapularis, Western Rosella Platycercus icterotis, Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae and Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula using nest hollows and visited by Kangroos relaxing on the grass.

The generosity of our hosts was underlined when we entered a motel unit well equipped with the usual kettle, toaster and microwave. We felt really valued as customers when we realised that, unlike the majority of motel rooms we have stayed in, this unit was made welcoming and cheerful with good lighting not the parsimonious minimum low wattage lights.

Excellent habitat for wildlife and human travellers.

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