Article by Tyron de Kauwe, Natural Areas Conservation Officer, Sunshine Coast Council
Little reds, not so little numbers
Hello again flying-fox fanatics,
What a year it has been already! In case you missed it, last article I wrote about our seasonal visitors, the little red flying-foxes. Well, since March, they have moved sites and shifted to a few other locations, including a late season move to Golden Beach.
It is highly-unusual for little reds to move around so much across the region, but they are highly nomadic and constantly search for their favourite flowers— Angophora, Corymbia, Eucalyptus and Melaleuca species. There has been a very heavy flowering of Melaleuca quinquenervia around the Golden Beach area recently and is likely the reason they have flocked to the site.
Little reds are a “ _hurry, while stocks last!_” kind of animal and flood in when flowering is heavy. Generally they leave the region in April before they give birth in central and western Queensland in May. They have come in record numbers this year and have reached almost 10-times the highest number recorded on the Sunshine Coast. They have also stayed longer than previous years due to the abundant flowering, but may well have left by the time you read this article.
The BatMap is your go-to spot to find out where flying-foxes are roosting all across the Sunshine Coast. When a roost site is monitored, Council publishes that data on the website, so you can see up-to-date info on where they are, how many there are and how they have moved recently.
The BatMap has been live for over two years now and is a great resource. There have been a lot of changes in the world in that time, so it is time for a small upgrade.
When it was created, there were only 25 roosts on the Sunshine Coast and occupation was fairly predictable. Since then, various national issues have shifted the range of flying-foxes. The number of sites is now over 40 in this area alone and some traditional sites have been abandoned.
We have been working tirelessly to improve the BatMap experience, to give you more information and show you what is happening across the whole region at once, not just what is in your backyard. So keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks for a brand new BatMap.
The 7th Annual Australasian Bat Night
All I can say is WOW!
Due to popular demand over previous years, the event moved to Maleny Showgrounds to allow more people to attend…and boy did you attend…
The event usually has around 150 people attend, but a week out from the event this year there were over 1,000 people registered!
Some showers across the day might have dampened some clothes but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the hundreds of people who turned up to learn all about bats and their ecological importance.
It’s hard to wrap up such a large event which included guided walks, live animals, bat board games, bat activities, bat carers and amazing presenters, so I won’t try. Instead, check out the video below to get a snapshot of all the fun from the event.
7th annual Australasian bat night
What does a conservation officer do?
I’ve been asked this a few times recently, so thought it might be worthwhile explaining what we actually do.
Conservation Officers work with the community to find solutions to wildlife conflict issues so that humans and native animals can co-exist as harmoniously as possible.
A lot of the things written about in these articles are the on-ground actions we take and the monitoring that informs those decisions. That is the tip of the iceberg though. We also partner with researchers and other experts in the field to improve understanding of the species and trial new technologies. It’s a tricky balance trying to conserve an important, threatened species and reducing their impacts on humans.
There is also the all-important education. Events and articles like this are part of that program, but we also visits schools and retirement villages to improve people’s understanding of the species. I recently visited a retirement village in Buderim. About half of them were not necessarily fans of flying-foxes, but this is where the most important work takes place! They were all very keen to learn more about the species and by addressing concerns and busting some myths, we can all move closer to understanding, tolerance and co-existence.
The highlight of the visit was a wonderful poem from one of the residents, which she has kindly allowed me to share. So I will leave you with the wonderful words of Cherry:
The Flying Fox
by Cherry Elliott-Jones
Call me Fox or call me Bat
It really doesn’t matter,
Some say I’m a flying rat
With wings, but only fatter.
There is no way you can deny
My face is very pretty,
And, when it comes to flying high
I glide above the city.
By radar beams some keep on track,
The best crops they are seeking,
There’s not a trick or move they lack
As night time comes a-creeping.
But don’t forget we do good deeds
In every nook and corner,
We pollinate and spread the seeds
Of native trees and fauna.
If not for us you may not find
The forests tall and regal,
And even though we’re almost blind
We soar just like the eagle.
The mighty Eucalypt will bloom
And we can live together,
For both of us, there must be room
In sunny Queensland’s weather.