Saturday, May 26, 2018

June Meeting and Outing



CLUB MEETING: Friday 01 June at 7.00pm at St. Anthony’s Community Centre.
Our speaker for the June meeting will be Andreas Helwig, senior lecturer in Electro-Mechanical Engineering at USQ. He will talk about USQ’s solar array and connected research.
CLUB OUTING: Sunday 03 June Pine Mountain Bush Reserve & Lakeside Bushland Walk, Wivenhoe.
After two shorter outings, this one is a bit further from home. Pine Mountain Bush Reserve near Blacksoil is a little known but very attractive reserve with a graded walking track. It is easy walking with only a slight grad-ient. Small dams hidden away make for good bird attractors and the vegetation is very interesting.
The Bushland Lakeside walk at Cormorant Bay on the southern end of Wivenhoe Dam appears seldom used, despite the proximity to the popular picnic ground. It has some interesting understory plants and is a good water bird and bush bird observation area. There are generally well-graded paths and the scenic walk is approximately three kilometres return.
Meet at Neil Street carpark at 8:00am for carpooling. For those travelling independently, travel toward Bris-bane. Take the Esk turnoff just before Blacksoil at the overpass. Then almost immediately turn right at the traffic lights into Bayley Road. Follow this road through the next roundabout then turn left into Velvet Street. This road eventually becomes Pine Mountain Quarry Road, some of which is gravel, though suitable for 2-wheel drive cars. The reserve is approximately 3.5 kilometres on the right. There are picnic tables though no toilets. We will have morning tea before our walk.
We will leave at approximately 11.00am and travel about 20 kilometres on the picturesque Pine Mountains Road to rejoin the Brisbane Valley Highway near Fernvale. There are toilets at Fernvale and the picnic area at Cormorant Bay. Park near the top toilet block at Cormorant Bay as the walk starts near there. We will have lunch at this site, either before or after our walk. Koalas are often seen in this area. The round trip is approxi-mately 200 kilometres, so please pay your driver $8-$10.
There is a shorter route home through Glamorganvale to Marburg, should drivers prefer.
This month’s outing was planned by Tricia Allen.     Phone 0458979258.
With thanks to Tricia, Sandy Eastoe’s contact number is 46385708 or 0423688225

A Report on Cullendore Camp - March 2018 by Trish Gardner

Fourteen Nats and their families travelled down to Cullendore (in New South Wales via Warwick), in March to the informal camp organised by Tricia Allen and Lesley Beaton. The site was a naturalists’ paradise. Lots to see, enjoy, and talk about among ourselves - and no traffic to be heard except the sound of our own vehicles and those belonging to the farm.
Our focus fell mostly on birds, plants, and fungi, but all life forms were grist to our mill. Tricia brought along a good selection of the club’s books, and we had plenty of time to pore over them around the campfire, identi-fying what we had seen. We were interested in the animals which we began by tentatively identifying as Red-necked Wallabies, but were puzzled by their large size. We eventually realised that they were Black-striped Wallabies. The identifying black stripe was only apparent on a few of the largest males. Adrian and Tricia Allen provided what was meant to be one campfire dinner, but the (delicious) left-overs actually stretched to two. The same happened with the generous breakfast which Adrian and John Ball provided for the rest of us. We came away feeling rather spoiled.
Thank you, Tricia, Adrian, Lesley and John, for a wonderful camp.

Field Nats at Cullendore   (Photo by Graham Rogers)

Report on May Outing: “A little gem, two sources, and a meander: enjoying water features within our city"


This month’s outing was different from many others that we have had: we actually explored Toowoomba city itself, but focussed only on its flood mitigation strategies. In this we were very ably led by Margaret Compton, who along with Bob Fuller, had attended late last year StormWater Queensland’s one day workshop entitled ‘Water Sensitive Design in Urban Areas – Toowoomba’s East Creek as an example’. John Swarbrick was also able to provide us with interesting and pertinent observations throughout the morning.

Our first stop was at the corner of Spencer and Alderley Streets, where we were shown one of the tinier stormwater detention basins. The convoy then moved to Spring Street to see how the terrain had been shaped by nature and human hand to channel the water into West Creek. This area is known as the Murray Clewett Wetland. We walked along the bottom of the sports field nearby where John Swarbrick pointed out a well that used to feed off the underground spring, but is now much neglected, judging by the quality of the water that we saw.
The convoy then moved to Ethan Street to see the beginning of East Creek. This abutted the Toowoomba Regional Council’s Nursery. The water that flowed into this detention basin and that formed the beginning of East Creek was fed by two stormwater pipes. The water from the basin flowed through a pipe outlet into a wide patch of ground before flowing into a series of swamps. Margaret Compton took us to a small street (court) opposite the car park and showed us other strategies that had been used to control more effectively water run- off during rains. One was the use of a ‘swale’ to direct run-offs towards a drain. Another was the use of permeable pavings. One other feature that is noteworthy is that the car park here faces a small native garden, the plants for which have all come from the Crows Nest Nursery.

Corner of Spencer and Alderley Streets, part of the overall flood prevention on West Creek and one that many of us just drive by not even knowing it exists

The original brick well at Kearney Springs Park
The water from the area mentioned in the previous paragraph makes its way via a culvert under Spring Street to a large detention basin in Jutsum Street. From here it goes underground to come up at the nearby Storey Farm Park where an old gum tree provided us a spot for morning tea. The water here went over stones that were set in concrete in order to minimise erosion.
Our next stop was at Ballin Drive where there is another large detention basin. The plants here have grown very quickly and now provide a very thick coverage so that the water causeway is not easily visible.
We next visited Garnet Lehmann Park where a very large detention basin has been created. It seems that a narrow-constructed channel with wide grassed, sloped verges is effective in managing sizeable flows of water, and grass resists erosion. This was our last stop before we continued to see the direction in which water would continue to flow – past Lake Annand, along Kitchener Street, and past Queens Park. After the Frog’s Hollow corner of Queens Park, the creek goes into wide culverts to pass under Hume Street and alongside Chalk Drive to the now totally reconstructed and greatly enlarged confluence with West Creek. We stopped at Hodgson Street to look at this but current work has necessitated a fence to be erected.
Half the group that started out in the morning then elected to go to Boyce Gardens for lunch in the sunshine – though the wind was getting cool and this brought the outing to an end.
It has been claimed that over 10 years TRC is spending $175 million for East and West Creeks, as part of the flood mitigation strategies. Thanks to Margaret Compton, TFNC members and guests were able to see some of the results. 

Stones here have been cemented into one of the catchment areas for the Kearney Springs area

A special way Council are using parking areas to disperse water in the event of a downpour and many of us would not be aware of this. The divided rubber is covered with small sized gravel

(Report by Francis Mangubhai; photographs by Diane Turner)
Bird List- Excursion to Water Catchment Areas of Toowoomba   (Collated by Sandy Eastoe)

Thanks to the combined efforts of Neil McKilligan, Mike Ford and Allen Parry for the collaborative list. Most birds were seen at our visits to Spring Street (source of West Creek) and Ballin Drive Park.
White Ibis, Hardhead, Great Egret, Crested Pigeon, Coot, Masked Lapwing, Wood Duck, Black Duck, Grey Teal, Noisy Minor, Currawong, Crow, Purple Swamp Hen (Moorhen), Welcome Swallow, Magpie, Scaly Breasted Lorikeet, Willie Wagtail, Rainbow Lorikeet, Magpie Lark, Crested Pigeon, Pied Butcher Bird, Pale Headed Rosella.


Report on May Speaker:Chris Cameron on “Out Bush with a Camera"


Chris spoke enthusiastically about his life in the Australian bush and illustrated his talk with numerous slides. He apologised unnecessarily that some slides were showing their age, as they supported his comments splend-idly. He was reared on the farm ‘Rockwood’ near the town of Condamine. It was a property rich in birdlife due in part to its location where eastern and western ecotypes meet but also in large measure due to the good management of grassland and retention of large areas of scrub. The birds are not so abundant now in this area, due to what might be termed ‘industrialisation’.


Young Chris lived a Huckleberry Finn sort of existence. Being an only child, he had to rely on his own resources for amusement. This took him far from the farm house into the bushland at a very tender age, with only his dog for company. His success as a fisherman and hunter provided useful supplements to the home larder.
Irruptive occurrences of bird species are common in Australia as food supplies fluctuate. But Chris described how bird communities in his area have changed both qualitatively and quantitatively in a more permanent way. Most evident in facilitating the expansion of populations of the larger parrots has been the expansion of grain growing. Birds such as corellas, cockatoos and galahs have become very numerous and more widespread than previously. On the other hand, Chris has noticed a decline in the numbers of bustards and brush turkeys. Both are insect eaters.
In addition to habitat loss impacting on some species, feral animals such as pigs, foxes and cats have taken their toll. The ecological and economic role of the dingo is ambiguous. In sheep country dingo predation can be devastating to flocks. On the other hand, up in the Burdekin where there were pigs rampaging through cane crops the dingo are doing a good job keeping pig numbers down. Chris showed us a remarkable picture of a wild dingo coming within a few metres of him as he worked on his compost.
Thank you Chris for a most informative and entertaining talk.
(Report by Neil McKilligan)

Friday, May 4, 2018

Birdwing Butterflies at Townsville

(Article and photos by Barbara Weller)

My daughter has a ‘Butterfly’ vine growing on the side fence of her house in Townsville. I am unsure whether it is an Aristolochia tagala or Pararistolochia deltantha but the Birdwing butterflies really like it. On my recent visit there were several larvae (caterpillars) living on the vine – they ranged in size from about half a centimeter to about six centimeters in length although they would be smaller when newly hatched.           
From the description they appear to be Cairns Birdwing caterpillars with colourful spines to ward off predators. Unfortunately, as described in this on-line reference, the caterpillars do tend to ringbark the vine when almost ready to pupate. Although leaves droop from water loss, the flow of nutrients is concentrated so the caterpillar gets a more nutritious meal before pupation. Pupation occurs in a cleverly camouflaged cocoon, which resembles a dead, dried leaf. (http://beforeitsgone.com.au/2011/05/03/backyard-beauties-the-cairns-birdwing-butterfly/)

Two caterpillars had pupated but the butterflies had not hatched when I left for home. However, just before I came back to Toowoomba, I was fortunate to see a female birdwing, which is not as brightly coloured as the male, fluttering around the vine and probably laying her eggs on it. I was not quick enough to take a photo.
I have planted two ‘Butterfly’ vines on my side fence in Toowoomba with the hope of attracting them to my garden and contributing to their long-term survival. However, these vines are different and designed to attract the Richmond Birdwing. So far, no luck!
Butterfly vine
Caterpillar



Pupa

Fungi at Cullendore Camp

Pycnoporus coccineus - A very common orange-red polypore found growing on wood.
It is quite persistent but fades to white in old age. Recent DNA research suggests there
may be more than one species.
Bolete (photo by Lesley Beaton)
Amauradorma rude - found growing at the base of a stump. This is a long-stalked polypore which is brownish on top and white underneath. When scratched or even touched it turns red and then later becomes almost black. (Rude = red)
Clavulinopsis (probably amoena) - When you walked from the camp across to the showers, there was a patch of what looked like yellow rods sticking out from the grass.  It belongs to the group of coral fungi. Spores are shed from the outer surface.
Gymnopilus sp. - A small yellow-brown fungus I found growing on wood. I made a spore print and it produced rusty brown spores typical of this genus.
Paneolus sp - These were everywhere growing on the cow dung. It is one of the dung fungi and had a typical bell-shaped cap. The older ones had a dark metallic sheen.
Boletus aff magnificus - Walking through the Maryland N.P. fungi were everywhere. We found five beautiful orange boletes and I picked one. Some boletes turn blue or green when cut. We cut it before dinner while everyone watched but all were disappointed when it stayed creamy white (ID thanks to Patrick Leonard).
Also in the Park there was a fungus parasitised by another fungus. (Hypomyces sp). This often happens when there has been a lot of rain. A white growth appears which covers the mushroom and it looks quite unattractive.

(Article by Gretchen Evans)

The Oakey Bottlebrush (Melaleuca quercina)

A brief reference was made in Len Mengel's obituary to the local bottlebrush, Melaleuca quercina, and our President, Trish Gardner, has kindly allowed the following information to be copied or adapted from her blogsite, “Toowoomba Plants”.

She posted on 17 November 2011:

“Apparently this very local plant was given a name by Lyn Craven, working for CSIRO at the Australian National Herb-arium. He has at last sorted out a number of closely related plants, establishing that this one, which is only known to occur in the blacksoil country from Oakey Creek to Clifton, is a separate species. It was described and named from a specimen collected in 1991 on the western side of Brookvale Park Road, 10k west of Oakey, by Betty Ballingall.”

In an Addendum, 2018, Trish explains that in 2016 Tony Bean reviewed the genus and included the plant prev-iously known as Melaleuca phratra from the Injune/Texas area with Melaleuca quercina because they are so similar. However, they are not quite the same, and Trish recommends that people carrying out serious revege-tation work should use plants grown from the seed of their local type. Plants grown at the Crows Nest Nursery from seed produced at Cambooya would be much more appropriate.

This nursery has, in fact, been able to send a lot of Melaleuca quercina back out into the environment where they belong thanks to Len Mengel drawing attention to his own fine specimen and allowing the collection of seed. Len's plant came from a small population spread along just a few miles of Emu Creek, between Camboo-ya and Felton. Trish's post on 06 February 2011, has a number of photographs of Len's plant in bloom and mature trees along the creek looking “a bit flood-bothered” with flood debris.

“These would be a good choice to plant in areas where flooding may sweep away less sturdy vegetation. They hold on tightly to the soil with their flood and drought-adapted roots and survive inundation. They have proven to be as tough and adaptable as the closely related local red bottlebrush, Melaleuca viminalis, growing well on dry slopes and hills.”

(By Diane Pagel)