FOSI Newsletter #81 September 2019

In this issue

FOSI AGM 2019 Update 

Rare Richmond birdwing butterfly spotted at Pt Lookout

Cylinder Lagoon Contamination - Health Hazard

New Mt Vane walk

Feral Animal Control Update

Minjerribah futures: Beyond Sandmining 

Toondah Harbour Update

The Moreton Bay Foundation launched

Nature Guide - New 2019 Edition

Facebook Activities

FOSI AGM 2019 UPDATE

Thank you to our members who attended our AGM and to our guest speaker, Geoff Moore, who gave an excellent presentation on the history of sandmining on NSI and the mine closure process. Another highlight was the awarding of Life Membership of FOSI to Edith McPhee for her many years of service to FOSI and North Stradbroke Island. Unfortunately for FOSI, Edith, who was a founding member of FOSI and a member of the committee for 24 years, has retired this year - we still miss her greatly. 

The FOSI Committee for 2019 consists of: 
Mary Barram - President
Julia Marler - Vice-President
Michael Kennedy – Treasurer
Angela McLeod – Secretary
Susan Hill, Dick Copeman and Sophie Mor – members.

The Power of nature - Beach erosion Frenchman's Beach 25 August 2019

Rare Richmond birdwing butterfly spotted at Pt Lookout

In April, ecologist Harry Hines, spotted a lovely Richmond birdwing butterfly in Bambara Street, Point Lookout. This was the first time this beautiful butterfly - the largest butterfly in subtropical eastern Australia - has been recorded on the island. The female Richmond birdwing (Ornithoptera richmondia) was photographed at rest and also observed laying eggs on a Richmond birdwing vine that was planted in a nearby garden. The female’s wingspan is 14-16cm!

Richmond birdwing butterfly 

Richmond birdwings occur only in subtropical northern NSW and south east QLD and have been in severe decline due to loss of its lowland rainforest habitat and its special feed plants. Most of the coastal populations north of Brisbane have been lost and only small pockets remain outside Brisbane. However, in 2009 female Richmond birdwings were observed in Thornlands, in the Redland City Council area. 

The natural food plants for female Richmond birdwings and their caterpillars are the Birdwing Butterfly vine (Pararistolochia praevenosa) and the Mountain Birdwing Vine (Pararistolochia laheyana). Sadly, the butterflies will lay eggs on the introduced Dutchman's pipe vine (Aristolochia elegans) but young larvae are poisoned when they feed on leaves of this South American plant. 

Dutchman's pipe vine

So if you see any Dutchman’s pipe vine (see photo) growing please explain to the owners that the Richmond butterfly often prefers to lay its eggs on that and the larvae will die. The volunteers at the Bushcare nursery will be able to suggest alternative non-toxic vines to plant such as the birdwing vine. 

Richmond birdwings are listed as Vulnerable under the Qld Nature Conservation Act 1992. If you have seen or suspect the Richmond birdwing butterfly at any location on the island, please report it to:

IndigiScapes on (07) 3824 8611 and let FOSI know too. 

For more information visit: https://www.redland.qld.gov.au/info/20254/wildlife_in_the_redlands/711/richmond_birdwing_butterfly 

Mary Barram

Cylinder Lagoon Contamination - Health Hazard 

Beach goer wading through the "lagoon" August 2019

FOSI representatives have continued to meet with and raise our concerns in correspondence with RCC Councillor Peter Mitchell and RCC staff responsible for Cylinder Beach. For some time we have been focussing on the water quality of the Cylinder Beach Lagoon. 

We have recently been provided by a report by a consultant to RCC which confirms the worrying levels of Enterococci as well as nitrogen, phosphorus and turbidity in the waters of the lagoons on Cylinder beach. These findings are highly suggestive of contamination by leaking sewerage from septic tanks in the township area above the beach. 

FOSI is concerned that RCC has not sought to identify the source of the pollution or the enterococci, nor to reduce it. We were told at a recent meeting RCC has done no checking of septic tanks in the area, and the bore hole tests in the consultant's report did not include biological indicators, only engineering parameters.

FOSI is concerned that the pollution of the lagoons will increase again this coming summer, exacerbated by the predicted, hotter-than-average temperatures. We are again urging all sections of RCC to work together to identify the source of the pollution and to remedy it as soon as possible.

Mary Barram & Dick Copeman

New Mt Vane Walk

The island’s traditional owners, the Quandamooka People, have designed and built a new walking track to Mount Vane in partnership with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. It was officially opened in April this year but is yet to be signed and is a little hard to find, but well worth the effort.

For those interested in walking it you take the Kabul track from the western side of the Karboora (Blue Lake) carpark. After 15 to 20 minutes of uphill walking the track flattens out and the Mt Vane section turns to the right or western side. It’s an obvious and well-made track of equal standard to the Kabul track. 

From the turnoff the track follows ridges past scribbly gums, grass trees, banksias and flowering shrubs. At the moment the yellow ‘Showy Parrot Pea’ (Dillwynia floribunda) is in full bloom. Views east to the ocean also add to the enjoyment of the walk.

About 30 to 40 minutes after the turn off the track climbs more sharply but briefly to the top of Mt Vane with spectacular views of Moreton Bay and the Bay Islands. You retrace your steps back to the car park, and overall the walk takes about 2 hours.

It’s not a difficult walk by any means, but it is good exercise and a great addition to Straddie’s attractions.

Michael Kennedy


Feral Animal Control Update

As many residents and visitors to North Stradbroke Island are aware, fox numbers have multiplied over the past decades, resulting in significant damage to local wildlife. Due to evidence received from strategically placed cameras and a footprint count it seems probable that the fox numbers have been heavily reduced over the past 2-3 years. This is thanks to an effective baiting program which has been running on the Island. This year’s data from Sibelco and National Parks is not yet available from the south of the Island.

Despite this outcome, baiting is starting to prove ineffective because the cunning foxes are avoiding the baits and will be teaching their young to do the same. The next step to continue the eradication program will be to fumigate fox lairs and combine this with foot traps. According to Michael Dickinson, whose company is involved with feral pest control, it is best to fumigate lairs at the beginning of the mating season (April to June) which coincides with the winter solstice and follow that through until around November. Despite foxes being in Australia for over a century, they still breed as per their Northern Hemisphere origins, which takes place at the time of the summer solstice there.

While we can celebrate the reduction in the number of foxes there has been a huge increase in the number of feral cats over the past number of years. Cats will travel very long distances on the island to hunt for food and these cats have been caught on camera together and footprints are being found. Worryingly, some very large cats have been seen which are almost the size of dogs. It was expected that as the fox baiting progressed we would see a rise in the next predatory animal to take over its position in this case it’s the feral cat.  

Some trapping has taken place, and on examining the contents of the trapped cat’s stomachs to see what they have eaten, the remains show a variety of animals, especially squirrel gliders. Fur from other animals is also found in their faeces. Cats are one of the greatest threats to Australian mammals so ridding the Island of them is very important. Recent cat scats sent away for analysis showed Bandicoot and unidentified bird remains.  
Feral Cats are going to be a challenge to eradicate as they are notoriously hard to control by shooting, trapping and baiting. Surface baiting, which is done by placing 50 baits per hectare, will unfortunately kill every living creature, particularly birds and marsupials, so this is obviously not suitable. An option is to both cage trap them and to use foot traps, however they are clever animals and will avoid going near anything that might have any scent of humans on them and often don’t scavenge for food but prefer live kills.

Feral cats are a national problem, and as such the Australian Government funded the development of an innovative new technology to target cats.  

The Felixer Grooming Trap is a robotic grooming trap about the size of a printer. A laser beam recognises the animal, and if it is a cat, the machine administers a single dose of toxic gel to the animal’s coat, which is ingested when the cat grooms itself. The Felixer can differentiate between cats, possums and other animals mainly by their leg and body length as Australian wild animals generally have short legs and different body shape. It has been successfully trialled on Kangaroo Island as well as in the Northern Territory, and once it is available for general use in two to four years, it is hoped to be used on North Stradbroke Island.  

Michael Dickinson emphasises that what we can all do as residents and visitors to Straddie is to please keep our cats under control and in the house at night and to de-sex all animals.
Thanks to Michael Dickinson of his company, Australian Wildlife and Feral Management, for the information in this article. 
Angela McLeod 

Feral cat on NSI captured on a wildlife camera in 2012 – the problem persists
(Image by Michael Dickinson)

Minerribah Futures: Beyond sandmining

Sibelco’s mining leases on North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah will expire at the end of this year.  The end of sand mining on the island presents an opportunity to shift away from mining, which has damaged the fragile, unique and biodiverse beach, dune, forest and wetland ecosystems on the island for over 70 years.  Sand mining on Minjerribah was always a short-sighted economic strategy – degrading the natural environment to exploit a finite resource which is vulnerable to global market fluctuations, and which provided limited flow-on benefits for the local community.

The end of sand mining brings the chance to create a more durable and sustainable economic base for the island.  The Queensland Government’s Economic Transition Strategy (now known as “Minjerribah Futures”) involves an investment of $24.75 million to assist in the transition of the economy away from mining towards eco-, education and cultural tourism, with expanded research and educational activities and infrastructure on the island to  complement the increase in tourism.

Many of the physical impacts from sand mining on the island are irreversible.  Sibelco’s mining rehabilitation plan is expected to take five to six years before revegetation can begin.  Mining impacts have made Minjerribah’s ecosystems more vulnerable to natural disasters.  This includes bushfires and cyclones which regularly affect the island and are expected to be more frequent, intense and less predictable as a consequence of anthropogenic climate change.  
FOSI calls on the State Government to rigorously monitor compliance with all of Sibelco’s end-of-lease obligations in order to give the island the best chance of recovery from sand mining’s lasting impacts.

FOSI has campaigned for several decades for an end to sand mining on the island.  We believe that an end to sand mining is a crucial step in ensuring the future viability of Minjerribah as a unique tourist destination which people travel from around the world to visit.
This long-awaited opportunity is not without risks, however.  It is critical that long-term sustainability of the island underpins all major decisions over the next few years.  The State Government funding must be spent wisely in order to yield a return for the environment, residents and visitors alike.  

Various projects in the pipeline include new recreational trails, camping upgrades and the development of new eco-tourism facilities.  All of these projects are aimed at stimulating Minjerribah’s economy by drawing more visitors to the island.  Whilst we are generally supportive these initiatives, we urge decision makers to ensure that the environmental impacts of future developments are kept to an absolute minimum.  

Yarrabah Mine near Pt Lookout 2016

In addition to environmental damage caused by sand mining, there are a number of pressing environmental issues on the Island, including water quality concerns for the Cylinder Beach Lagoon, fire management, the depletion of water supply in the island’s lakes and aquifers, and the negative impacts of 4WD vehicles on beaches.  The island is fragile and has a limited carrying capacity.  Any new economic initiatives on the island should be sensitively implemented in a way which will not further burden the island’s already-stretched infrastructure, including ensuring that the island’s public transport system can efficiently meet the projected increases in demand so as to keep vehicular traffic, especially on beaches, to a minimum.  Recreational trails and eco-lodges should be located in areas which have already been cleared and utilise existing infrastructure.  We urge decision makers to consult widely regarding any new development proposals, to ensure that all of the projects comprising the “Minjerribah Futures” strategy are sustainable, and make Minjerribah a better place to live and to visit, for many generations to come.

Sandmining on Minjerribah 

Julia Marler 

Toondah Harbour Update

Walker Corporation’s Toondah Harbour Development is currently undergoing assessments for an Environment Impact Statement (EIS) and the timeline for a decision is at a minimum one year out. This is despite the federal Department of the Environment consistently arguing a similar previous proposal was "clearly unacceptable" due to the permanent impact it would have on the ecological character of the wetlands. 

The Development will permanently destroy over 40 hectares of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetland of International Importance Site including important feeding habitat for EPBC-listed migratory shorebirds and resident birds. Moreton Bay is also a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) in Danger and one of 144 Flyway Network sites recognised by the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. 

Further, Moreton Bay has been identified by BirdLife Australia as the most important site for the Critically Endangered Eastern Curlew in Australia. New data collected this winter has highlighted the importance of Toondah Harbour for this species. On the 8th of August the Queensland Wader Studies Group tracked the return of an Eastern Curlew to Toondah Harbour from Rudong, China. The bird was fitted with a radio transmitter last summer before it migrated north. After leaving the mud flats along the Rudong coast it flew direct to Cairns in far north Queensland, arriving on 27 July – a 7-day non-stop flight. It then slowly made its way down the Queensland coast arriving off Toondah Harbour in the second week of August – Exactly back where it had spent last summer.

The Walker Corporation’s proposal will significantly impact other matters of national environmental significance including Koalas, Dugongs and Sea Turtles. These impacts alone should provide sufficient impetus for the Federal and State governments to reject the Development.

FOSI has joined an Alliance of organisations opposing this development which includes BirdLife Australia, Humane Society International, Australian Conservation Foundation, BirdLife Southern Queensland, Redlands 2030, Queensland Waders Study Group which is being provided with legal support by Environmental Defenders Office Queensland. Recent actions have included a letter to the Federal minister for the Environment and supporting the Welcome Back Shorebirds day. We will keep members updated.

Mary Barram 

The Moreton Bay Foundation launched

FOSI was pleased to be represented at the launch of The Moreton Bay Foundation (TMBF) on 30 August 2019. 

The new foundation’s stated aim is

 ‘Focusing expertise, wisdom & enthusiasm for the benefit of Moreton Bay’

TMBF ‘aims to be independent and nonpartisan and to foster informed, expert assessments of public policy proposals supported by the most robust, credible research and evidence available’. Its founding members include The Goodman Family Foundation, QYAC, The University of Queensland, Griffith University, and Queensland University of Technology. 

Representatives from a wide range of groups involved in caring for Moreton Bay attended the community forum and dinner associated with the TMBF launch.  A panel of scientists and community representatives including Dr Robert Bush from the Queensland Wader Study Group presented issues and responded to questions from the floor. 

One of the foundations first acts has been to publish in hard cover and release a free e-Book Moreton Bay Quandamooka & Catchment: Past, present, and future. The       e-book is an expansion of the research presented at the 2016 Moreton Bay Quandamooka & Catchment Forum and includes the latest updates available at the time of publication. The e-Book include covers the following issues:

Chapter 1 Indigenous Knowledge and Culture

Chapter 2 Communities and Values

Chapter 3 History and Change in Moreton Bay

Chapter 4 Water Quality, Land-Use and Land-Cover

Chapter 5 Habitats, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function

Chapter 6 Citizen Science

Chapter 7 Industry and Planning

Chapter 8 Moreton Bay Marine Park

Each chapter is available for free download at the https://moretonbayfoundation.org/books-and-research-papers/

FOSI supports TMBF’s vision for Moreton Bay ‘to be an international treasure, known for its excellent environmental health, biological diversity, and ecological sustainability, its innovative robust and resilient economy, and its indigenous culture and heritage’. We look forward to working collaboratively on projects of joint concern in the future. 

Mary Barram

Nature Guide – New 2019 Edition

FOSI’s ‘A Nature Guide to North Stradbroke Island-Minjerribah’ has been reprinted after the first edition print run sold out. The guide has undergone minor updates (including new scientific names for the rays) and minor corrections. It has been reissued with the same cover but with new blue end papers and a new ISBN. Special thanks to our editor Susan Hill and designer 
Michael Phillips for coordinating the reprint. 

The book is still being sold for $35.00. It’s available online from FOSI at
stradbroke-nature.myshopify.com/ and for purchase from mainland bookshops - including SLQ Library Shop, Avid Reader West End, Mary Ryan New Farm, Riverbend Books Bulimba, One Girl Studio Graceville and Indigiscapes Capalaba. The book is available on the island from Point Lookout News Agency, Manta Lodge and Scuba Centre and Moreton Bay Research Station, NSI Historical Museum and Straddie News at Dunwich. 

FOSI is storing the books at a commercial storage facility – but if any members have or know of an alternative, secure, water proof space available for us to rent at a good price, please let us know.  

2019 edition

Donations support FOSI’s work

Friends of Stradbroke Island relies on the generosity of our members to fund our work. All donations made to the Environment Fund are tax deductible.

It is easy and secure to make a donation by bank transfer (BSB 124029, Acct 21645410).

Your donation will help fund our ongoing public information and education campaigns and support relevant scientific research affecting North Stradbroke Island on issues such as environmental damage caused by land clearing, sand mining, hydrological changes, plastic and feral animals.

Wedge pea


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