Nov 10, 2010

Summer in Franke Scrub

Another species to add to the list, Bar-shouldered Dove. It was sitting in a thicket of vine on the eastern side of the scrub calling forlornly. The only bird that answered was the resident Spotted Dove. I now make the bird list 51 species of which 41 have been recorded in Franke Scrub, and 10 more species recorded on the road reserve, adjacent areas or flying overhead.

As usual butterflies were everywhere, mainly Orchard Swallowtail, Black Jezabel and Caper White though there were a couple of other Whites flying around that I didn’t identify although I think one was the Chalk (or Striated Pearl) White.

The Flying Foxes are still there, although I only saw three, hanging in the same tree as last month.

Cheers, Lesley

P.S. Can either of you tell me what the large, high canopy tree is that is flowering in the centre of the scrub at the moment? Birds don't seem to be too attracted to it though the Scarlet Honeyeater was calling from the high branches.

Oct 29, 2010

Excitement in the Scrub

We felt a great sense of achievement at the last working bee, when we discovered a plant we hadn’t seen before.
Fawcett’s Clematis
Clematis fawcettii

This little plant is listed both nationally and in Queensland as “vulnerable”.

It grows in dry rainforest environments like Franke scrub, usually on stream banks, and has become very difficult to find, in the district. Threats to the plant, nationally, are destruction of the habitat by clearing, fire, and grazing.
We all appreciated the importance of saving Franke Scrub because it is a threatened environment type. While it contains some other species which are uncommon in the district, it was the whole environment which we knew needed to be saved from destruction, simply because preserved patches like this often turn out to be the home of rarer species than we knew. And so it has turned out to be!
We found a number of small plants growing in a group. There must have been seeds surviving in the soil all through the long drought, as all but one of the plants are very small. None were flowering. It will be interesting to see, when flowers do appear, whether we have both male and female plants. We can hope for it, as both are needed for seed production.

Oct 12, 2010

More rain

What a wet season we are having. We decided not to churn up the road in September and had a bit of a chat at the intersection of Franke Road instead. It will be interesting to see the growth in the scrub after all this rain.
Hopefully we have got all the big asparagus ferns in the canopy and there will be limited flowering and seed set this year.
We will however be busy dealing with the young plants before they climb into the canopy.
The nice thing about this work, apart from the sounds of birds and the company over smoko, is that we see all the small plants that are now growing since we have cleared up the scrub.

Aug 23, 2010

August meeting

The rain should be cleared away for our monthly meeting at Franke Scrub this week. After our very successful information stand at Peacehaven Botanic Garden on National Tree Day we hope to see some new faces. Bring smoko, chair, camera, secateurs, chipping tool and weed bag if you are so inclined. We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday morning 25th August.

Aug 3, 2010

National Tree Day at Peacehaven

We were lucky with the weather for our display at Peacehaven. It turned out to be a pleasant sunny morning with good crowds who found our display interesting, so we probably achieved our purpose of letting people in the Highfields area know more about their remnant vegetation and also of our existence.

It was nice to see young people interested in using local plants in their gardens.
Personally I am finding these plants, which I have obtained from the Crows Nest Council nursery and some friends, to be quite fascinating in my new garden. They are growing very well despite the difficult conditions in the past few years.

Jul 31, 2010

You name it!

Some people think the name SCRUB does not do justice to our remnant vegetation, but that is what is has been called for a long time. More correctly, it is a MICROPHYLL VINE FOREST, referring to the small leaves, as opposed to tropical rainforest with its larger leaf forms.
The sign tells us it is Dry Rainforest Remnant. A sheltered pocket of diverse species which nurtures plants which have become less common as the surrounding area has been cleared. And the birds love it, as we do.
Should we stick with the name FRANKE SCRUB? A name should encourage us to respect and protect it.
It certainly was a vine thicket when we started clearing the asparagus vine from the canopy in 2006. These days there are few asparagus vines making it up to the canopy although they continue to germinate and threaten to take over once more. Now we watch the native plants grow and make their way up to replace the weeds.
Please add your comments and thoughts.

National Tree Day

We will have an information stall at Peacehaven Botanic Park, Highfields on Sunday 1 August from 8.30 am. Come along and plant a tree, find out more about your local vegetation and how you can use it around your home and for recreation in your local area.
How to get there on Kuhls Road off Cawdor Road.

Updated Bird List

Birds in Franke Scrub November 2009 - July 2010 Total 34 birds.

observed by Lesley Beaton

Boobook, Southern (First recorded Nov 2009)

Butcherbird, Grey (First recorded Nov 2009)

Butcherbird, Pied (First recorded Feb 2010)

Crow, Torresian (First recorded Nov 2009)

Cuckoo-shrike, Black-faced (First recorded Nov 2009)

Cuckoo-shrike, Ground (First recorded Nov 2009)

Duck, Black - adjacent paddock (First recorded Feb 2010)

Fairy-wren, Superb (First recorded Feb 2010)

Fantail, Grey (First recorded May 2010)

Fantail, Rufous (First recorded Nov 2009)

Finch, Double-barred (First recorded Nov 2009)

Finch, Zebra - adjacent paddock (First recorded Feb 2010)

Friarbird, Noisy (First recorded Feb 2010)

Galah - adjacent paddock (First recorded Feb 2010)

Gerygone, white-throated (First recorded Feb 2010)

Honeyeater, Lewin’s (First recorded Nov 2009)

Ibis, Straw-necked - adjacent paddock (First recorded Nov 2009)

Kingfisher, Sacred (First recorded Nov 2009)

Lorikeet, Rainbow (First recorded Feb 2010)

Magpie, Australian (First recorded Nov 2009)

Magpie-lark (First recorded Feb 2010)

Mistletoebird (First recorded Feb 2010)

Robin, Rose (First recorded Apr 2010)

Rosella, Pale-headed (First recorded Feb 2010)

Scrubwren, White-throated (First recorded May 2010)

Scrubwren, White-browed (First recorded Nov 2009)

Silvereye (First recorded Nov 2009)

Sparrow, House (First recorded Nov 2009)

Thornbill, Brown (First recorded Nov 2009)

Thornbill, striated (First recorded Feb 2010)

Thornbill, Yellow-rumped (First recorded May 2010)

Weebill (First recorded Nov 2009)

Willie Wagtail (First recorded May 2010)

Figbird (First recorded Feb 2010)

Jun 30, 2010

Never mind the weather

Whatever the weather - and it wasn't bad this morning - it is always nice under the canopy in our scrub. Five of us were out working this morning.
We found a Parsonsia leichhardtii in flower.

[click on the photo to see the flower in detail.]
When you are visiting, have a look at the corky bark on the vine.
The Silver Croton is also in bud and, above us while we had smoko, we found the Scrub Wilga in flower.

Down in the creek the native plumbago is doing well.

Have you had a look at the Mistletoes on the Flindersia on the NW corner?

Jun 29, 2010

A winter visitor

A Rose Robin visited us recently. It is a winter visitor and on the edge of its range here.

Jun 28, 2010

June meeting

Once again we are meeting at Franke Scrub this coming Wednesday morning 9-11 am to see how the place is going. We must be approaching the stage of awarding prizes for the discovery of large asparagus vines in the canopy. They are becoming rare.
Bring the usual gear and smoko.

May 31, 2010

National Tree Day in August

Friends of Peacehaven are having a community field day at Peacehaven Botanic Park in Highfields on Sunday 1 August.
This will be National Tree Day and Toowoomba Landcare will be marking their 10th anniversary on the day.
A joint display with Friends of Franke Scrub is proposed. We have much in common as many of the plantings at Peacehaven are of species surviving in our remnant scrub on the edge of Highfields.
We are looking for ideas and assistance for this display.

May 28, 2010

Under supervision

Graham and Judy noticed some movement in the canopy while working, and we then found that our owl was keeping a close eye on activities just above us. We enjoyed our morning in late May, sheltered from cold winds.
The diversity of plants in the scrub is quite challenging when one is more accustomed to other vegetation types where a few species predominate. Perhaps it is a reason why this type is endangered? We just can't get our heads around it?

May 24, 2010

May meeting

A late reminder that the May working bee is on this week Wednesday 26th May. It looks like being a pleasant morning out there, so let's hope you can join us sometime between 9 and 11 am for a spot of weeding or a chat, wander and smoko. Bring your own tools, smoko, chair, camera etc.

May 19, 2010

A grant for our patch

Rachel Pignat of Toowoomba Landcare tells us she has been successful in applying for a "Caring for our Country" grant for Franke Scrub to help pay for an interpretive sign.

Flutterings at Franke Scrub

The dam adjacent to Franke Scrub

My latest visit to the scrub was on a beautiful autumn morning. It was still quite cool in the scrub but the edges were alive with fluttering. Along the road verge it was all Caper White Belenois java, Cabbage White Pieris rapae, Wanderer Danaus Plexippus, and Large Grass Yellow Eurema hecabe butterflies. As I walked down the fenceline towards the water course my eye was caught by fluttering at the edge of the neighbour’s dam. Although in heavy shade there was much bird activity so perhaps the water was warming up enough to stir the insects. A number of small birds were flying down to the water then back to the wires on the fence or the scrub. They included, Willie Wagtail, Grey Fantail, Double-barred Finch, Superb Fairy-wren, White-throated Scrubwren and Yellow-rumped Thornbill.

The constant to-and-fro made me pause and I sat on the grass to watch for about fifteen minutes. They were mainly after insects and I watched a beautifully coloured male Superb Fairy-wren bash the living daylights out of a large moth it had caught. The finches were more involved in drinking and bathing, but what interested me the most was one White-throated Scrubwren that looked as if it was actually after insects in the water. It was dipping its face into the water and making small movements. When it raised its head it didn’t seem to drink, but neither did I see it catch anything. I’ve never seen or heard of this with Scrubwrens before.


Apr 29, 2010

April in the scrub

A small group attended our monthly working bee.
It is very pleasant in there with the birds and seeing small scrub plants appearing as we remove the asparagus vine. We still come across occasional large vines which we hope to eradicate before they next set seed. With the favourable weather in recent months the reserve is coming on well and we are doing a good job of keeping the new asparagus plants under control. The results of our efforts are seen in the interesting canopy now almost devoid of strangling asparagus vine.

Apr 23, 2010

April meeting reminder

We will be meeting again next Wednesday 28th April from 9-11 am at Franke Scrub for working bee/social stroll/morning tea.
Hope to see you there.
The place is looking great after the good rains.

More on Franke Scrub

For those of you who do not regularly follow the Toowoomba Plants blog, our local plants gardner has a couple of recent items of interest to us.

Butterflies at Franke Scrub and


Lobelia purpurescens (Pratia purpurescens)

Apr 8, 2010

Autumn in Franke Scrub

Went to Franke Scrub on Tuesday. Beautiful weather with plenty of bird and butterfly activity. In fact it was difficult to pick out the birds because the butterflies were everywhere. Especially Yellow-spotted Jezabel Delias nysa I took a couple of photos.
Just as I arrived a couple of Magpies flushed something large from the upper canopy. All I got was an impression of grey and large. It may have been an Australian Goshawk, but don't quote me on that. Another one to not quote me is a female Rose Robin. I quite distinctly heard a robin 'tick' call and saw the face with it's pale rimmed eye. It likes moist gullies so Franke is perfect habitat. However I didn't see enough of the bird to give it a positive identification.

Rufous fantail taken by William Jolly.
The changing season
For a birdo the change of season is not so much the cooler weather, shorter days or changing leaf colour. It is the birds that disappear or reappear. Franke Scrub is the home to a pair of Rufous Fantails Rhipidura rufifrons from Spring to Autumn but as soon as April arrives they depart. They tend to leave us for warmer climes moving away from the Great Divide to the coast or inland to about Chinchilla, or north with some even crossing to New Guinea. There are individuals that will stay over winter but the majority of Rufous Fantails are hugging the coast north of the Queensland border. In summer they can be found as far south as the South Australia/Victoria border.
They are such chirpy residents and I miss seeing the flash of rufous as they search through the mid-canopy after insects. However, nature always compensates and a Grey Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa has moved in to replace them. A close cousin to the Rufous Fantail, the Grey is just as active but has a sharper, more scolding call. In fact one of it's bush names is Cranky Fan. Though often seen in our area throughout the year, the majority of Grey Fantails spend their summers south of the Queensland/NSW border returning to Queensland in large numbers for the winter. Who can blame them?
Toowoomba Field Naturalist Club Inc

Have you seen our blog?

Apr 5, 2010

March meeting

With some members away last Wednesday, a small team of 4 still managed to remove 2 full bags of older roots of asparagus fern. "Asparagus fern has certainly been reduced.. it was a good feeling not seeing too much of it."
At this rate we will be starting a competition to find the bigger ones.

Mar 1, 2010

The indignant owl

Our resident Southern Boobook is not impressed with twitchy people poking around in his scrub. [photo - Don Gardner]

Feb 24, 2010

A good spot for a kingfisher

A Sacred Kingfisher was fishing in the dam and returning to a vantage post in the scrub. It will be heading north soon on its migration back to northern Qld, New Guinea and Indonesia.
It would be really good to hear of other bird sightings and anecdotes, nesting records, etc.
[from Lesley].

A new plant for our list

Our twitcher, Lesley, has added a new plant to our list this week. It is a small climber called "small leafed Tylophora" (Tylophora grandiflora) in flower. We haven't noticed this plant before.

After the recent rains, there's a lot going on, with flowers and seeds, as well as young plants appearing and new growth.
We have made such a difference to this reserve by removing the asparagus vine from the canopy, although we will continue to need to remove young plants as they germinate and attempt to climb back up.
We hope to see you in 4 weeks time.

Feb 17, 2010

First meeting after the recent rain

A reminder that we are meeting again next week on Wednesday 24th February at 9 am.
With the recent rain, things are growing well in our lovely reserve.
We hope you can find time to join us there.
Bring secateurs, chipping tools and a bag for weeds if you feel inclined to work, or your camera, binoculars, a book to read, or just a chair and smoko.
We hope you can join us to experience our local vegetation as it was before we cleared it.
If you can't make it, we will be meeting again on the last Wednesday in March.

Jan 25, 2010

A new schedule

We have decided to increase our efforts on our little patch of remnant vegetation and will meet on the last Wednesday of each month this year - except January and December.
We hope this will make it easier for everyone to make it and get to know the seasonal delights which it offers.
Best wishes for 2010.