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 Friends of Bats Newsletter

Autumn 2020

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Photo: Vivien Jones

Message from the Editor

Dear Ku-ring-gai Bat Conservation Society members and friends,
While life as we know it seems to have changed drastically overnight, the most you might be seeing of our bats is a brief glimpse while they fly by your window at dusk. Rest assured, the bats are getting on with things after a difficult summer. 
In this edition we will recap the events of the last few months, and what a few months they were. From a horror bushfire season to heat stress events, wild storms and global pandemics, it sure has been (and still is) a roller coaster for us, as well as our winged friends. Read below about the fire evacuation of our education bats and, how things in the Ku-ring-gai Flying-fox Reserve (KFFR) are evolving, see what rehabilitated bats get up to when they think no one is watching and, find out how you can get involved!

EDUCATION

Before social distancing became a necessity we had several great educational events that attracted full crowds. In November we hosted the ever popular 'Meet a Bat' night and attended Parramatta Field day with our education bats and team. Our last 'Meet a Bat' night was run in February and was so popular another event was scheduled for those on a wait list but, unfortunately, had to be cancelled due to social distancing. 
As a result of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic we have had to put a hold on any upcoming education and Meet a Bat night events. We are devastated we can't be out there spreading awareness like our bats spread seeds, but we will still be advocating for bats through our online platforms: the Sydney Bats website & Facebook page and the Sarah’s Bats InstagramFacebook page, so be sure to follow us and stay connected! In the mean time, lets all take after the Bats and hang in there.

Storm Damage in the KFFR

The destructive storm that hit northern Sydney on 27 Nov 2019 resulted in the felling of many large trees in the KFFR. This tall blackbutt provided plenty of roosting space for flying-foxes but now, ten years later, its canopy is on the ground, with other trees felled by the wild weather. Fortunately, Ku-ring-gai Council quickly removed the fallen trees from the fence which was protecting  the 2017 ecological burn. However, the resulting damage to the exclosures means Wallabies have taken advantage of this now accessible food, resulting in the death of many young trees. Our dedicated Bushcare team has already began with damage repair and the installation of new enclosures in the hope to establish a new, healthy canopy and under-story trees in the KFFR. Read more

Education Bats Evacuated

Last November the Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park, where our education bats live, was threatened by the mammoth Gospers Mountain fire and the decision was made evacuate all the animals to ensure their safety. A number of our remarkable team worked together to move the flying-foxes to their temporary aviary in Lane Cove National park well away from the fire front – safe, happy, and out of danger. They stayed in Sydney for one month while the fires were brought under control by our incredible Fire services. Whilst holidaying in Sydney our bats were given 5 star care thanks to a joint effort between Sydney Bats, WIRES and Sydney Wildlife members. Whilst they won the hearts of their temporary carers, once it was safe it was time for them to return to their home in Calga. Read more

On a sad note: Bushfires & Bats


Here we are, on the other side of the horror bushfire season that was. The fallout of this disaster was monumental to our communities and our wildlife, and whilst the media was saturated with images of koalas and our larger Macropods, you may be wondering what the impact was on our bats. 

Flying-foxes are lucky in that they can fly away from fires, but during summer, they are trying to carry young, as well. We may never know exactly just how much wildlife has perished in the fires; we do know that from around mid-November, flying-fox camps in non-affected areas swelled hugely as the animals moved around to try and find safe areas and food away from the fires.

Then the pup abandonments started. When food is scarce, or the animals are under extreme stress, flying-fox mothers will abandon their young. Normally they are incredibly good mothers, but if it becomes a matter of survival mum has to ensure she puts herself first so she can live to see another breeding season. As a heartbreaking result of this stress, thousands of flying-fox pups were abandoned, and consequently died, with many orphans being taken into care by wildlife carers, stretching already scarce resources to the limit. 

Estimates from multiple camps suggest we have lost well over half of this seasons’ young
. We even experienced mass casualties in the Ku-ring-gai flying-fox Reserve, usually a camp that is a safe refuge. Unfortunately, the combination of damaged vegetation, a crowded camp, weakened animals and fierce heat waves, has resulted in fatalities where we don’t normally see them.

Bat Cam

Ever wondered what hand-reared pups get up to in our release facility under the Gordon Flying Fox colony?
This pup season we had three groups of 40+ rehabilitated orphans pass through our release facility. After release some of these bats come back to the cage for support feeding while they learn to find food on their own. We closely monitored the bats inside the cage as well as these return visitors on the outside.
It sure has been interesting seeing what they get up to when we aren't around! Can you spot a naughty Brushtail Possum looking for a free feed from our bats support food, or how about a couple pups showing off their impressive wing span?

43.000 Flying Foxes in the Reserve

Monthly counts conducted by volunteers and Ku-ring-gai Council give an estimate of the size of the colony over the years. We have experienced an influx of bats this January and February, likely as a result to the devastation caused by the bush fires. In January 43.000 bats were counted during fly-out at sunset, a number not seen this high for over 10 years!

Gift Fund News

Sydney Bats has received donations totaling over $11,000 year to date! We are very grateful  and aim to use these donations for the critical recovery of native habitat in the reserve to support the flying foxes. The donations also make it possible to acquire specialised equipment needed to monitor the colonies during heat waves. Thank you to all our generous donors for making this possible!

Join our BushCare Group

The KFFR Bushcare Group usually meets every Tuesday from 8.30am to 12.30pm. The group started in 1987 with the restoration and protection of habitat as its aim to provide a critical refuge for bats and other wildlife. When social distancing is no longer essential we will be in dire need of volunteers to continue this important work. Can you help out? Please contact us at web@sydneybats.org.au.
Copyright © 2020 Ku-ring-gai Bat Conservation Society Inc., All rights reserved.