Rain, frogs, flowers, butterflies and a semi-retired British Colombian species-at-risk biologist!
World Heritage K’gari township Happy Valley has been deeply watered and awash with all sorts of sounds, scents and colours during and after the rain. Our beautiful Fraser Coast Regional Council (FCRC) Community Environment Program (CEP) sites are thriving and our team’s ecological restoration and nurturing of local biodiversity is showing its true colours.
At first, there were heavy rains…then the frogs – with all night audio performances that gave us the biggest smiles but left us sleepless! Then came the heady scent and floriferous vision of mass simultaneous flowering of Acronychia imperforata (beach Acronychia) and Alphitonia excelsa (soap bush) along with other species flowering such as Parsonsia straminea (monkey rope) and lingering Alyxia ruscifolia (chain fruit). All this was followed by trails and splashes of colour crossing autumn crisp skies.
All summer there had been a boom in butterflies but weeks of thousands of Tirumala hamata (blue tiger) migrating north has been an unforgettable spectacle – made even more spectacular as other migrating and local species peppered themselves through the tiger’s blue – Belenois java (caper whites), Catopsilia pomona (lemon migrant), Eurema hecabe (common grass yellow), Hypolimnas bolina (great eggfly), Papilino aegeus (orchard swallowtail), Papilio fuscus (fuscous Swallowtail), and the not often seen Danaus affinis (swamp tiger) to name but a few.
For MRCCC’s ‘Find a Frog in February’ (co-ordinated by Eva Ford) and the CEP teams, the timing of so much rain was perfect. We have always kept our ears and eyes on frogs in Happy Valley and especially so, since our frog identification workshop some years ago with Eva. This February there was a very strong presence of Litoria caerulea (green tree frog), Litoria gracilenta (graceful tree frog), Litoria latopalmata (broad-palmed rocket frog) along with the exquisite IUCN listed (EN) Endangered wallum sedgefrog Litoria cooloolensis also listed as (NT) Near Threatened under the QLD Nature Conservation Act 1992. Outside of February there had also been other threatened wallum frog species present – Crinia Tinnula (wallum froglet) and Litoria freycineti (wallum rocketfrog) both listed as (V) Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and (V) Vulnerable under the QLD Nature Conservation Act 1992.
All three of these threatened frog species are represented in National and State recovery programs which identify and address threatening processes, such as – poor urban infrastructure design and implementation, inappropriate fire regimes and clearing, the use of biocides in weed management and rising sea levels due to anthropogenic climate change – all of which contribute to changes in hydrology, habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation. We are in an incredibly unique situation here to live side by side with these fragile creatures. Frogs are struggling globally and they need our help. Our CEP teams’ restoration methodologies align with this and we stand firm in our commitment to preservation through the nurturing of natural processes on our sites and the enhancement of the exquisite natural amenity of this tiny township on World Heritage K’gari.
While there are other things to report, I will just mention the most ‘out of the blue’.
A semi-retired species-at-risk biologist from British Columbia with an interest in restoration, heard about our zero chemical ecological restoration project and found her way to K’gari, and, Happy Valley after having walked from One Tree Rocks! She slogged it out with us amongst the Abrus precatorius africanus in the heat for a couple of days and returned to BC just before COVID-19 lockdown.
Trudy’s work and understanding of the project was excellent and she was a real joy to work with. I was very much surprised when Trudy insisted there was a section she had not finished and that we needed to start at 6.00am on her last morning for a two-hour session before being picked up by the Fraser Island Taxi! Thanks for your great work Trudy, and thanks to our dedicated volunteers and the FCRC Natural Environment Team who have all worked incredibly hard on the ground despite the heat, march flies and wild weather and to Air Fraser Island for always getting us all here.
Article submitted by Bree Jashin Volunteer Team Leader, Zero Chemical K’gari FCRC CEP