Flying fox community news February 2018

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Have you noticed that there are a few more flying foxes around at the moment? Eucalypts and in particular the beautiful Pink Bloodwoods ( Corymbia intermedia) started blooming not long after Christmas, and one of the major pollinators of these trees are Little Red Flying Foxes. Little Red Flying Foxes are the smaller, noisier cousins of our frequent visitors, the Black and Grey-headed flying foxes, and tend to travel in large numbers – often in the tens of thousands. These reddish brown animals exclusively feed on the nectar of the eucalypts and can have a rather distinctive body odour.

The dependent young of the Black and Grey-headed flying foxes are becoming too heavy for mum to carry underwing and are now being left over night at the roost. The pups tend to call throughout the night so that their mother can find them when they return from feeding. Just like us, each individual flying fox has a distinctive “voice” that its mum is able to recognise.

The Little Red flying foxes will leave the Sunshine Coast by Easter and return to their maternity camps in central and northern Queensland. The young pups will be capable of prolonged independent flight in late April and early May, when the seasonal abandonment of most Sunshine Coast roosts will begin.

Flying fox roost updates

The summer eucalypt flowering in the coastal areas of the Sunshine Coast has seen an increase in the number of Grey-headed flying foxes and black flying foxes at most urban roosts over the past few months. Little Red flying foxes have been observed at Elizabeth Street Drain, Aragorn Street Bushland Reserve and Hardie Buzacott Wildflower Reserve West since early January.

As the eucalypt flowering continues the number of flying foxes visiting the Sunshine Coast may increase as other individuals migrate to our region to feed. Flying fox numbers fluctuate according to available food resources and usually peak from February to April.

Flying fox exclusion buffer offset update

When native vegetation is removed for any purpose, there must be an offset made to compensate for the loss. The Flying fox exclusion buffers that have been created at most of the urban roosts has resulted in the removal a large number of mature native trees. To offset this removal, 1,000 native flying fox food specific plants have been planted at Kirby’s Road Environmental Reserve. This site was chosen due to its proximity to low conflict flying fox roost near Obi Creek. Research suggests that increasing the amount of food out of the urban environment may encourage the flying foxes to select more suitable roost locations.

Educational and research events - University of Melbourne research

Resolving human-flying fox conflict in the face of environmental change

In 2016, Sunshine Coast Council became one of the research partners with the University of Melbourne for a three year study into resolving human-flying fox conflict. The research is being conducted throughout Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The project brings together local councils from the three states, state agencies and two universities, with University of Melbourne as the lead investigator.

There are 17 projects scheduled to be completed by 2019 and a number of them are currently underway. A researcher was on the Sunshine Coast in December undertaking interviews with impacted residents from Coolum, Maroochydore and Landsborough to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day impacts of living adjacent to a flying fox roost. These initial interviews with guide a larger survey process to be released later in the year.

Author: By Raeleen Draper, Flying Fox Management Officer, Sunshine Coast Council