Thursday, 16 March 2017

Suburb Guide: Annerley

Norman Creek, as it passes to the south of Arnwood Place.

Just under three square kilometres in size, Annerley might be a small inner-suburb of Brisbane, but it is rich in wildlife nevertheless. This is largely due to the life-sustaining qualities of Norman Creek flowing through the eastern extremity of the suburb—elsewhere, with Ipswich Road splitting the area right down the middle, urbanisation has taken its toll.

Featured areas: (1) Arnwood Place, (2) Lagonda Park,
(3) Suburban Annerley, (4) Fanny Street Park, and
(5) Ekibin Park South; Image courtesy of Google Maps.
Situated just a short distance away from the Brisbane River, Annerley sits upon soils derived from sedimentary rock, and would have been cloaked in a mix of dry and wet eucalypt forest before it was cleared for dairy farming; the vegetation along Norman Creek would have been particularly dense, being home to a mix of littoral rainforest species. This latter ecosystem would have been an especially rich hunting and foraging ground for a small Indigenous camp that lived in the area where the Arnwood Place childcare centre sits today.

In the present day, the green spaces in the suburb are quite limited, but this hasn’t stopped a dedicated bushcare community from restoring these areas into impressive revegetation sites teeming with wildlife, some of which are looked at below.

A female pale ciliate-blue (Anthene lycaenoides), resting at Arnwood Place. This tropical butterfly has, until this record-breakingly hot summer, only been recorded as far south as Mackay. Thank you to Peter Ewin for the ID.

1. Arnwood Place
This small but beautiful revegetation site is the result of seventeen years of hard work from the Norman Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee and the Arnwood Place Bushcare Group, and is definitely worth a visit. From the bridge over Norman Creek looking south, a variety of water animals can be spotted, including dusky moorhens (Gallinula tenebrosa), Macquarie turtles (Emydura macquarii) and—if you’re lucky—water rats (Hydromys chrysogaster). Even just the view of the creek itself is something to enjoy, however; bordered by a magnificent Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla), the scenery made me feel much more remote than my actual position, just four kilometres out from the city centre.

Little black cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris).
Alongside the creek, a small path runs adjacent to some shady rainforest trees, and allows glimpses of shy creatures like the buff-banded rail (Gallirallus philippensis) and white-banded plane (Phaedyma shepherdi). Pause quietly at the numerous arboreal termite mounds, and you might find tenants such as a common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) or a sacred kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) family.

If you are keen to pitch in and help restore such a beautiful area, please follow the Arnwood Place Bushcare Group Facebook page for updates on meetings and working bees.

There are several kookaburra families in Annerley.

Boardwalk at Lagonda Park.
2. Lagonda Park
Another revegetation site in Annerley is at Lagonda Park. At first glance, the park consists of a small playground and picnic shelter, surrounded by jacarandas (Jacaranda mimosifolia), but continue along the pathway and you will come to a gully that has been replanted with dry rainforest trees. Here, the pathway suddenly becomes a boardwalk through the tree canopy, allowing a closer look at beauties like the tulipwood (Harpullia pendula) and red kamala (Mallotus philippensis).  In the gully below, small creatures like the eastern dwarf tree frog (Litoria fallax) and wandering ringtail (Austrolestes leda) are swooped upon by laughing kookaburras (Dacelo novaeguineae).

Growing to only eight metres tall, tuckeroos are a small rainforest tree.

3. Suburban Annerley
The residential areas of Annerley seem to be undergoing a lot of change at the moment, with new townhouse blocks and apartments appearing everywhere, and iconic Queenslander-style houses being remodelled to the nth degree. Sadly, the landscaping styles are being updated too, with gardens shrinking in size and featuring mostly cheap, foreign, ubiquitous Bunnings plants like mock orange (Murraya paniculata) and golden cane palms (Dypsis lutescens). On a walk down McIvor Street, I found no birds, but plenty of coastal golden orb-weavers (Nephila plumipes). Street plantings heavily feature the Brazilian leopard tree (Libidibia ferrea), but the occasional native tuckeroo (Cupaniopsis anacardioides) can be found as well.

Apart from a few weeks of the year, magpies are one of the most friendly suburban birds.

4. Fanny Street Park
Fanny Street Park entrance.
We take for granted that although common suburban birds wander into our gardens, they are mostly visitors from nearby parks and bush corridors that have large trees for them to nest in. This is why even tiny parks like this one, entered by a steep staircase off Fanny Street, are valuable, as they allow birds like the Australian magpie (Cracticus tibicen) and Torresian crow (Corvus orru) to remain common in the inner-city. Surrounded by gardens, most of the trees on this site are invasive varieties like the umbrella tree (Schefflera acutinophylla) from North Queensland, and the Cocos palm (Syragrus romanzoffiana) from South America. A gully at the bottom of the hillside is likely to become an ephemeral wetland after heavy rainfall, and may harbour an urban frog population.

Weeds that threaten our local environment are like a many-headed hydra—when one problem plant is cut down, a different species will appear and take its place. One weed that is springing up in the damp areas around Annerley, particularly along Norman Creek, is the white shrimp plant (Justicia betonica). A tough riparian plant from Africa and India, it looks fairly unremarkable until its pretty white flower spires develop. Established as a garden ‘runaway’, it was first noted as a problem in Australia almost twenty years ago, in a nature reserve near Tweed Heads. Although it outcompetes and eliminates native wetland plants from a site, its blooms are at least beneficial to native insects, including skipper butterflies (Hesperiidae family) and blue-banded bees (Amegilla cingulata).

Fig trees offer some much-appreciated shade on sunny days at Ekibin Park South.

5. Ekibin Park South
Situated immediately north of Arnwood Place, this park is a popular sporting ground for locals, but is also of value to wildlife. Some years ago, the banks of Norman Creek in this section were covered in a dense tangle of Japanese sunflowers (Tithonia diversifolia), but the Brisbane-wide "What's Your Nature?" project, funded by the federal government and supported by Healthy Land and Water, brought contractors onto the site to remove this serious weed. The largest tree in this park is also unfortunately a weed, in the form of a giant camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphorum), but at least it provides an abundant food supply for the local blue triangle (Graphium sarpedon) population.

Macquarie turtles are friendly residents of Arnwood Place.

4 comments:

  1. An informative post, Christian!

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  2. Christian,

    This is a fantastic account of Annerley's flora and fauna, thanks so much for all the work you put into it. I especially love how you acknowledged the work of the community including my group at Arnwood Place. But you've inspired me to do more!

    I should mention that the Japanese sunflower was removed by contractors as part of the Brisbane-wide "What's Your Nature?" project, funded by the federal government and supported by Healthy Land and Water. Our bushcare group is about to do an infill planting there at Ekibin Park South this weekend, to add more of a ground and shrub layer. Sat 25 March 2pm.

    Regards
    Stephanie Ford, N4C

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    Replies
    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Thanks so much for your positive feedback and sorry it has taken me a while to reply, I've been under the weather for the past week. You and everyone involved with the Arnwood / Ekibin site should feel VERY proud and accomplished with what you've achieved, it's really quite a stunning parcel of land, all the more amazing given its urban location!

      And thank you for the sunflower info, I will amend the post to reflect the information you've provided me.

      Keep up the great work!

      Cheers,
      Christian

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