Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Outings Report - May 2016

Young’s Property at Hampton   (Report by Jean and Ben Gundry, and Francis Mangubhai)

Twenty Toowoomba Field Naturalists spent a fine Mothers’ Day at Peter and Margie Young’s 40 acre retreat, nestled just off the highway a little east of Hampton. This is an elongated, east/west aligned block in ridge and creek country (Perseverance catchment), so it takes in a fair variety of topography.
Peter is the Land for Wildlife Co-ordinator for Brisbane City Council and says their purchase of this block five years ago was motivated by an ultimate retirement plan and a chance to put into effect the principles from his own workplace of saving and regenerating our bushland environment.
The original subdivision was intended to be a working farm and the timber was largely cleared, therefore what we see today is maturing regrowth. There are few habitat trees with hollows, so Peter has sited nest-boxes which have attracted residents in the form of owlet nightjars, microbats, brushtail possums and, he suspects, gliders. Interestingly, an antechinus family has taken more of a liking to nesting on a shelf in their hut. The property has not been grazed for many years, though the Youngs receive occasional visits from two horses or a cow, via an opportune weak point in the fence across this creek. Even in these current dry conditions the long grasses gave evidence of this no/low grazing regime.

 Left: neighbour's property 
(grazed by horses). Right: Young's property with no grazing (photos: F. Mangubhai)

Of note is that Peter has occasionally seen a dingo, but no foxes or feral cats. He believes the dingo has kept these other predators away – therefore the smaller native creatures are having a better chance here. (Echidnas, dunnarts, antechinus, bandicoots, wallabies etc.). Goannas, water and bearded dragons are the usual reptiles, while five species of frog have been identified by call.
Our group arrived a little ahead of our scheduled 9.00am and it was a great pleasure to catch up with Garth and Mary Hockly, “almost” neighbours of Peter and Margie who live a few kilometres further down the road, and who are long time TFNC members.
The main walk was down to the creek, to the eastern and lower end of the property. This took us through a patch of she oaks (Casuarina littoralis) in a little gully where Peter immediately located some “orts” – chewed-up cone matter that is discarded by the glossy black cockatoos, which, unfortunately, we did not see on the day.

Tallowwood (Eucalyptus microcorys)

Walk to the Casuarina gully
 (Both photos above by Jean Gundry)

Above the she oaks, we found our way to the fence line, where Tallowoods (E.microcorys) and Ironbarks (E. crebra) were the dominant trees, with Red ash (Alphitonia excelsa) and others providing the mid canopy. The understorey in this open forest provided particular interest as it was tangibly at our level: Maytenus silvestris (Narrow-leaf Orangebark), Notalaea sp. ( Mock Olive), Eremophila debilis (Winter Apple) Leucopogon sp. – perhaps L.mitchellii ( Whitebeard), Breynia oblongifolia (Coffee Bush), Hakea florulenta (Clothes-peg hakea), Cassinia laevis (Cough Bush -rice paper type of flower) Pisonia aculeate ( Thorny pisonia), Bursaria sp., Cryptocarya sp.
At the creek, we could see the evidence of Peter’s five-year battle with his privet invaders. Once almost impenetrable at this site, it is now an open environment above the waterhole again. In the 2011 floods, the side creek course was laid totally bare, with lots of rocks being redistributed from upstream. Lomandra longifolia were the first new colonizers and are still the dominant occupiers, but now others are becoming established for example Hovea longipes (Long-stalked hovea), Eustrephus latifolius (Wombat Berry), and Plectanthrus sp.
Our second shorter walk, after an unhurried Morning Tea, took us to a ridge-top perhaps exclusively occupied by Corymbia maculata (Spotted Gum) – clean-barked but dimpled and majestic. At ground level, we saw Hardenbergia violacea and Maytenus bilocularus, and Peter reported that he has seen donkey and hyacinth orchids at one location in this little zone.

Peter Young and Ben Gundry with the ridge of Spotted Gums (photo: Jean Gundry)

Peter then concluded with his Regeneration Project where he has been applying Jack Mitchell’s Forest Farming principles, as developed in coastal areas to the north of Brisbane. However, this hasn’t been totally successful here because of greater frost incidence. The principle is to plant some rows of pioneer species such as Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood or Black Wattle) and Lophostemon confertus (Brush Box) in alternate rows, to pro-vide protection for more valued but slower growing species, such as: Toona ciliate ( Red Cedar -doing very well so far), Grevillea robusta (Silky Oak), Melia azedarach (White Cedar), Flindersia australis (Crows Ash), Araucaria cunninghamii (Hoop Pine), Castanospermum australe (Black Bean), Gmelina leichardtii (White Beech). Deer and wallabies present a challenge to this experimental planting.

Bird List (compiled by Trish Allen)
Birds seen: Pied Butcherbird, Noisy Miner, Brown Honeyeater, Weebill, Red-browed Finch.
Birds heard but not seen: Eastern Yellow Robin, Currawong, White-throated Treecreeper, Grey Fantail.

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