Field naturalists spend a day by the river
GYMPIE and District Field Naturalists' April outing to the Jacobsen property, Home Park, at Netherby west of Tiaro covered a range of interests.
Those who follow the Mary River when in flood will be familiar with Home Park.
It is an important Bureau of Meteorology gauging station, now automated, measuring flood heights and gathering a raft of information about general river condition.
Topics covered included turtles, property history, biological control of cats claw and maderia vine, and riparian vegetation assessment.
Some of those took place under a large fig tree, while others were presented on site across the river.
Because the property straddles the river, the Jacobsens had their own 19m span concrete bridge installed to save a more than 27 km round trip.
The low level bridge, about 2m above river bed, was built off site and installed using large cranes. It has remained relatively unscathed from floods as water can run under and then easily over as there are no rails.
Turtle expert Marilyn Connell spoke about the six turtle species that inhabit the Mary.
Ms Connell explained that turtles are defined by having webbed feet.
She said the Mary, with six species, has the most of any Australian river and there is really no reason why that occurs.
It might be thought that turtles are well protected by a solid covering from predators, but while members listened to Ms Connell, an immature white-bellied sea eagle was patrolling overhead.
The connection is that these large birds use turtles as a significant part of their diet, especially in freshwater areas. Catch the turtle, fly up high and drop it onto a hard surface, do this a few times and a meal is ready.
Ross Smith from the Greater Mary Association spoke about the bio control work being carried out to reduce the impact on the environment of the serious cats claw climbing pest.
He said a tingid bug, that sucks the chlorophyll from the leaves, and a jewel beetle, whose larval and adult forms both attack cats claw leaves, have been introduced.
An exercise in assessing riparian vegetation was conducted by Graeme Elphinstone to allow members to work out what may need to be done to improve that environment.
A reasonable bird list was compiled with a brown falcon being of particular interest.
From a distance this bird looked like a brown falcon (it was sitting like one and in a situation, high on an exposed branch) but a close up photo showed a sooty black colour more like a black falcon.