Flying fox community news August 2017

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Welcome to the first edition of “Flying-fox Community News”. The information provided in this bi-monthly newsletter will give residents a better understanding of Council’s ongoing management of the multiple urban roosts and keep you up-to-date with any activities that will be undertaken in your area. It will also provide an update on some of the educational activities council is involved with and give you more information about the flying-foxes that come to visit.

We are learning more about the behaviour of the flying-foxes as we continue to manage the impacts to nearby residents. We are participating in two research studies with the University of Melbourne and Queensland University of Technology to improve our understanding of these important forest pollinators while improving our management actions.  Did you know that flying-foxes have been recorded travelling from Sydney to Bundaberg in three nights? Their incredible sense of smell allows them to track the flowering eucalypts through the East Coast of Australia making them one of the most essential keystone species in our landscape.

Roost management actions

Elizabeth Street Drain, Coolum Beach

This year saw the first seasonal abandonment of this roost by Black and Grey-headed flying-foxes at the end of May. Both species returned to their overwintering site of Palmer Coolum resort for the first time since 2014. While some boys didn’t get the message to stay away longer, the roost did become a temporary “Bachelor” camp for around 50 black flying-foxes for two weeks in mid-June. This seasonal departure has allowed council to expand the flying-fox exclusion buffer by a further 8m with the removal of understory weeds on the opposite of the Drain where works were undertaken last year. Once the buffer was cleared of weeds, a community planting day was held on 20 July to replant over 300 non-attractant flying-fox plants to keep the weeds down. A final extension to 10m will be completed by the end of August.

The sprinklers have been working well at the Clayden Potters, keeping the bats out of the flying-fox exclusion buffer. When the number of animals increased over the breeding period from February to March, a few animals were pushed out of the main roost area and did seek refuge in the sprinkler zone. Thanks to feedback from the adjacent residents, council tweaked the location of the sprinkler behind a Russell Street property and added an extra sprinkler in December. This additional sprinkler and some extra trimming of a few branches while maintaining a visual screen is keeping the flying-foxes further from the private property boundary and is assisting the resident more efficiently.

Aragorn Street Bushland Reserve and Stella Maris School, Maroochydore

Thank you to all those residents who attended the community meeting in March. Council has started implementing what was discussed and the flying-foxes have been helping us get this done sooner by leaving the roost early this year so the clearing of understorey weed vegetation was completed ahead of schedule in early May. All understory large woody weeds were removed to 20m extending the flying-fox exclusion buffer to 40m. Works will be undertaken in the coming months to remove all the weedy grasses and smaller weeds. A bi-monthly maintenance schedule is now in place with contractors to ensure the site is maintained free of weeds. This action aims to create a buffer of habitat unsuitable for flying-foxes and has proven successful at other locations.

Emerald Woods Environmental Reserve, Mooloolaba

After the flying-foxes seasonal abandonment in April, maintenance work on the flying-fox buffer was able to be undertaken. One of the sprinkler trees had a significant amount of deadwood which was trimmed once the flying-foxes had left. Some tree trimming was also done on the trees along the pathway at the same time. In July, the sprinklers were all lifted about 1m higher to be in line with the increasing height of the canopy and ensure that the sprinklers continue to work to maximum efficiency. Emerald Woods is one of the longest recorded urban flying-fox roosts, being monitored by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and Council since 2010. The seasonal return of primarily black flying-foxes is expected in September. A small “Bachelor” camp of between three and 25 male black flying-foxes remains at Emerald Woods throughout this time. This is not an unusual occurrence, once mating is complete there is no need for the males to remain close to females.

Hardie Buzacott Wildflower Reserve West, Moffat Beach

First recorded by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection in 2007, this roost is one of the longest monitored urban roosts on the Coast. This roost is generally occupied seasonally by primarily black flying-foxes from late September to late April. Nestled in the industrial area of Moffat Beach, this low conflict roost provides a great opportunity for interested people to get up close and personal with flying-foxes. Investigations are underway to construct a “Bat Trail” from the Dicky Beach Caravan Park and Moffat Beach, highlighting the ecosystem connectivity from the ocean to the flying-fox roost.

Vidler Park, Landsborough

Generally occupied all year round, this winter is the second time on record that flying-foxes have seasonally abandoned this site. There was some movement of the roost toward Vidler Court properties for a couple of weeks before abandonment. When the flying-foxes returned for a short period, they returned to the general footprint area in the middle of the park. Works are continuing to maintain the buffer that was established in 2015 and the construction of the adjacent development has now been completed.

Historical roost maintenance

The flying-fox exclusion buffers at Cassia Wildlife Corridor and Dunning Street Palmwoods continue to be maintained. While both are regarded as historical roosts, flying-foxes are highly migratory animals that respond to available food resources and therefore maintenance of these sites will be ongoing.

Educational events

Australasian bat night

On Saturday 22 April at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, council held the third Annual Australasian Bat Night. Around 130 people attended and listened to talks from Warrambi author, Dr Les Hall, and Lyndon Davis from the Gubbi Gubbi mob. Martin from Geckoes Wildlife brought some friends with him so that people could get up close and personal with black and little red flying-foxes and some of the predators and scavengers such as a salt water crocodile and a carpet python, that rely on flying-foxes for their food. Many children chose to dress up in their favourite “batty” costumes, and Frankie the Flying-Fox was on hand to present some prizes to the best dressed. The night ended with the screening of the movie “ _Stella Luna_” on the outdoor cinema. Planning is currently underway for next year’s event in April 2018.

Library talks

Martin from Geckoes Wildlife partnered with council again this year to deliver five informative talks at various libraries throughout the Coast. Martin brings along several of his flying-foxes and many of their predators to highlight how flying-foxes fit into the ecosystem; sustaining life for predators and as key pollinators for many eucalypt species. All five talks were well attended and a similar program will be undertaken again next year.