Article by Tyron de Kauwe, Natural Areas Conservation Officer, Sunshine Coast Council
Boy oh boy, hasn’t everything changed since last we met!
Most importantly, I hope you are all safe and well and making the most of the opportunities and time our isolation has provided.
The flying-fox space has been a very active one lately and there is a lot of different information swirling around. I have received countless questions from concerned residents about flying-foxes and COVID-19, so I will try and address the most common asked ones and show you where to find more information. Let’s jump straight into this and tackle the big one first:
What happened to Australasian bat night?
Unfortunately, COVID restrictions forced the extremely popular Australasian bat night to be cancelled in April. Never fear though, the team has been working tirelessly to deliver the FIRST-EVER Digital Bat Night.
Flying-fox community news took some time off last issue to work on turning the outdoor festival into an online event. A whole swag of batty information will be coming at you in June!
Your favourite presenters Clancy Hall, Bat Rescue Inc, Geckoes Wildlife and more have put together a host of educational videos all about bats. There will also be some great learning resources and arts and crafts videos such as how to make bat origami, batty face painting and gel plate prints at home. Even Frankie is going digital!
Join the facebook event at 6:30pm, Wednesday 3 June. See you there.
Can’t make it to bat night?
That’s ok. All the resources will be online on Nature Connect, so you can look at them later.
To help share all the batty news, we have also partnered with the amazing Sunshine Coast Libraries to deliver an entire #BATWEEK from 1-5 June!
There will be many more books, articles, videos, podcasts, photos and docos on these superstar pollinators. Check it out all week here.
Les Hall award and all your batty questions answered live
The five finalists have been announced for the Inaugural Les Hall Young Conservationist Award. All of these youth leaders are well deserving finalists and have achieved some incredible conservation outcomes in their respective fields.
Each of the projects from the five finalists will be displayed on Council’s facebook page every day of #batweek and interviews with the finalists will be showcased on World Environment Day on 5 June before the winner is announced live that night. Tune into the 40th annual WEDfest Facebook event to find out the winner of this very special award.
WEDfest will also offer the ability to ask any remaining Batty questions you may have to an actual bat researcher. Professor Stuart Parsons from QUT will be live on the WEDfest panel on Sunday 7 June and will be answering any bat-related questions.
Counting camps and council actions
As the weather cools down for winter, things tend to heat up for flying-fox management. Flying-foxes on the coast tend to migrate to different winter sites near the flowering paperbarks. This offers a great window for different actions to be taken at the summer roosts and reinforce buffers for residents to provide some relief if flying-foxes return next season.
As a consequence of previous environmental conditions (see December 2019 Flying-fox news) and the bushfires last summer, flying-foxes have shifted their range into SEQ to find refuge and any remaining habitat. This has resulted in many new roosts being occupied this season with new flying-foxes visiting the region and potentially even shifting those who usually hang out around the coast.
In each new site the same questions are posed. Will they stay long term? Will they return next season? How can we minimise the impact on residents now?
Flying-foxes are wild animals and there is currently no way to accurately predict where they will move and when they will leave. This is why council continually monitors sites, to collect more data and help understand why they moved there and predict where they may go in future. To help provide some relief to residents, council usually performs early intervention actions such as weed management or installing canopy mounted sprinkler systems to establish a buffer from properties.
In 2020 alone, there have been eight new sites reported across the Sunshine Coast. The video below shows how much the roosts have moved and changed in that time. It also compares April 2020 with the year before. April is generally when we see sites vacated after the breeding season.