Spring has sprung and flying foxes have started to return to Sunshine Coast urban flying fox roosts. Pregnant Black flying foxes and Grey-headed flying foxes are being guided by their spatial memories and incredible sense of smell to return to their maternity roosts. Flowering of local eucalypts have started and will continue through spring and summer, bringing the flying foxes back into the local area. The service that flying foxes provide to these flowering eucalypts is invaluable to an ecosystem that supports some of our other fauna such as koalas.
It was a busier than average winter due to the continued nationwide food shortage. Many small bachelor camps were found in urban reserves such as Andrea Ahern Bushland Park, Yaroomba Bushland Park Conservation Reserve and at Cassia Wildlife Corridor. Black flying foxes were observed feeding on introduced urban plantings such as African Tulip Trees and Cocos Palms more than in previous years. In times of food stress flying foxes have been recorded moving their roots closer to their food trees or their 'supermarket'. As the birthing season gets underway these small camps will be abandoned as the social order is restored at the maternity roosts.
Roost Management Actions
Cassia Wildlife Corridor, Coolum Beach
Flying foxes returned to Cassia Wildlife Corridor in August for the first time since 2014. Initially there was only a small group of bachelor black flying foxes that decided to reoccupy the roost, but over several weeks the numbers of animals expanded to 70 which also included a few Vulnerable Grey-headed flying foxes and pregnant Black flying foxes. Before the numbers increased contractors were able to move into areas that the flying foxes were not occupying and remove understory weeds in a staged manner. Over three weeks Council was able to modify the corridor through the removal of understory and mid story weeds to reduce the attractiveness of the corridor to returning flying foxes. Once pregnant animals were observed, all work had to cease under the State's Code of Practice. The flying foxes however had other ideas and chose to vacate the roost two weeks later allowing works to continue and contractors were able to remove further weed vegetation including Cocos Palms and Camphor Laurel's. In early September only a couple of male flying foxes were still occupying the corridor.
Elizabeth Street Drain, Coolum Beach
A second community planting day was held in August. There was a fantastic community response and 12 volunteers assisted council officers to restore this area with the planting of 200 native plants in the area.
Aragorn Street Bushland Reserve and Stella Maris School, Maroochydore
Works continue to reduce the understory weeds at this site with the slashing of the buffer and understory weed spray being undertaken throughout August and September. At the moment flying foxes are yet to return to this roost, however local residents reported nightly feeding on the flowering melaleucas and bloodwoods at the start of September.
Emerald Woods Environmental Area, Mooloolaba
Emerald Woods had a busy winter with flying foxes only abandoning the reserve for a period of two weeks. A bachelor camp of male black flying foxes occupied one tree behind properties on Brentwood Avenue and numbers fluctuated between 30 and 70 individuals throughout the winter months. At the start of September female black flying foxes joined the males and there was a footprint shift to behind Candlewood Close properties. The canopy mounted sprinklers were activated and have been successfully maintaining the flying fox exclusion buffer since they returned.
Hardie Buzacott Wildflower Reserve West, Moffat Beach
Flying foxes are anticipated to return to this roost at the end of September. Last summer fauna cameras were installed on a number of hollows in the adjacent Tooway Riparian Reserve that is occasionally used as a 'spillover' location for flying foxes when numbers increase. There was quite a few different species spotted using the hollows including brushtail possums, ringtail possums, squirrel gliders, rainbow lorikeets, galahs and boobook owls. The photos and videos recorded showed that quite a number of animals still do use flying fox roosts even when flying foxes are present.
Vidler Park, Landsborough
After a pretty quiet winter, grey headed and black flying foxes have started to return to Vidler Park. They are settling into their normal summer roost footprint adjacent to Myla Road. Contractors worked over winter to maintain the buffer, removing understory weeds. Keep your eyes peeled at this roost, we are still waiting for our Golden Bat to return - he was last sighted in September 2015.
Kids in Action 2017
This years theme for the annual Kids in Action - kids teaching kids conference was "Relationships Matter" and flying foxes with their pollination and seed dispersal of eucalypts are a wonderful example of the relationships between native flora and fauna. Council officers and Frankie, assisted kids in presenting a workshop 'Come fly with foxes' which looked at the benefits of flying foxes to the local landscape and the challenges they present to their human neighbours.