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Friends of Bats Newsletter

Summer Edition - January 2021

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Editor's Note

Dear KBCS members and friends,
Happy New Year, and what a year it was! In 2020 we were unable to hold our famous 'Meet a Bat' night to ensure community safety, but we have still been busy educating and advocating for bats online via Facebook, Instagram, our website and of course our newsletters. We had planned to host an online 'Meet a Bat' night early this year, however with the most recent cluster of COVID-19 we have yet to set a date but watch this space!
In this newsletter you can read about the details of our upcoming AGM if you wish to attend, some interesting media releases and scientific discoveries about Flying-foxes and Microbats, what was unusual about the bats return to the reserve this season and more!

Annual General Meeting 2020


KBCS's 2020 Annual General Meeting will be held at 7pm, Monday 15 February 2021 at 4 Taylor St. Gordon.

Please note that Department of Fair Trading, due to Covid 19 restrictions, has permitted Associations to postpone or cancel the holding of an AGM for 2020.

The meeting at Taylor St will be open to members, depending on visitor restrictions at the time and will also be available to attend via Zoom. Dinner will not be provided this year but there will be snacks available.

If you would like to attend the AGM virtually through Zoom you can click the below meeting link or going to join.zoom.us and enter the meeting ID

Meeting link:  https://zoom.us/j/97241219776
Meeting ID:  972 4121 9776  

Australia's love-hate relationship with fruit bats

Earlier this month the German Newspaper 'Deutsche Welle' published an article examining the perceptions of some Australian communities towards the bats roosting in their towns and the misconceptions and threats our Flying-Foxes face. While thousands of bats flying out at dusk could give someone the impression that their population size is stable or even increasing, unfortunately the opposite is true and the impacts of climate change and deforestation continue to threaten the species.

Read more here about the strategies some towns have implemented in an attempt to safeguard their local bat populations. Our chair, Tim Pearson, dispels misconceptions and explains why educating the community is vital to the survival of these keystone pollinators.  

2020 Queries and requests 

Over the last 12 months Sydney Bats has received more than 100 queries or requests through our website and via email!

As a result of the widespread bushfires and frequent heat stress events last year, a lot of people contacted us offering help for bats in need. As Ku-ring-gai Bat Conservation Society (KBCS) doesn't act as a rescue/rehab group, these "helping hands", bat wraps and donated food were passed on to WIRES and Sydney Wildlife, with which quite a number of our members volunteer. 

A number of students - school, university and PhD - contacted us for assistance with assignments,. These are usually related to habitat restoration in the Ku-ring-gai Flying-fox Reserve, for which Nancy Pallin kindly provided the required assistance. Several requests came from local and overseas film crews as well as photographers which fortunately we are able to accommodate. We also provide a distribution service for Microbat posters, brochures about wildlife friendly netting and fencing, and received a number of requests for these to be posted out.
Tim Pearson helps a film crew get up close to our Flying-Foxes
Although most queries and requests are straightforward, a couple were out of the box:
  • Could we provide a live bat for a 3 year old birthday party?
  • What to do about a bat fighting with a possum?
These take a little more thought to answer!

Gift Fund News

Thank you to all our generous donors, whether anonymous or acknowledged below. Donations received into our Gift Fund from July to December 2020 total $1975. If you have not already received your tax-deductible receipt, it will be issued in coming weeks.
Donations received from:
L Bayley, J Burke, J Chenu, K Cox-Witton, B Crowther, L Desmond, B Dowsett, H Dunne, W Foreman, M Frank, H Gardner, J Green, J Gye, H Henning, T Hsu, F Hynoski, J Joyce, H Leung, S Linden, R Noone, S O’Grady, P Schmidt, C & T Sinclair, V Smith, J Snell, B Taylor, M Warner, A Whitney, A & V Wiggers de Vries, J Williamson.
 
These days we receive donations via PayPal, including several kind donors whose donations recur monthly. Funds are used to support habitat restoration in Ku-ring-gai Flying-fox Reserve, our education program where live flying-foxes are taken to events of various types, including the ones we run locally.
 

Membership Renewal

A reminder to anyone who hasn't renewed their membership yet to please do so.
Membership is $20.00 annually and can be paid by EFT into Westpac BSB 032083 A/c 207854
If you would like to make a donation as well (donations of $2 or more are tax-deductible and always welcome), please use Westpac BSB 032083 A/c 207862.
If you prefer to pay by cheque, please post to: Treasurer, KBCS Inc., PO Box 607, Gordon 2072
No paperwork is required to renew your membership, just email web@sydneybats.org.au with any change to your address/email address

 

Join our BushCare Group

The KFFR Bushcare Group usually meets every Tuesday from 9am to 12pm. 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. Interested in helping out? Please contact us at web@sydneybats.org.au.

What has been happening in the Flying-fox Reserve?

After a long winter break from Gordon, the bats returned! But this year they took their time and had us all a bit puzzled when the reserve was still empty come early October. After a few weeks of nightly visits, a small group of 3000 bats decided to stay for the day and finally settled into the camp in late October. Not only is this the latest we have recorded the animals coming back after leaving over winter, but with only 3000 bats it was the lowest October count since 1995. Looking back at the 25 years’ worth of count data, we can clearly see an overall trend for diminishing numbers in the Reserve (see below graph).  

While the number of bats has increased slightly in the last three months, our latest survey in December still fell well below the average for this month with only 7000 bats counted. They are spread out over a reasonably sized area in the reserve and include a small group of about 20 black Flying Foxes (Pteropus Alecto). Interestingly, many of the other Flying Fox camps along Australia’s East Coast have seen lower than average counts as well. One exception is the Bega Valley camps, where a record number of 43.000 flying foxes found refuge following the black summer bushfires.

The lower numbers seen in Gordon and other bat camps this year could simply be a consequence of the Flying Fox population being more spread out over a higher number of camps, while population numbers country-wide remain the same. However, another possibility is that we are actually seeing the first signs of an overall reduction in the total numbers of flying-foxes resulting from the widespread bushfires, the mass abandonment of pups in November 2019 and failure in fecundity success last season, this later explanation is not unlikely. But only time will tell.    

 

Microbats and Moths: An Evolutionary Arms Race

Microbats hunt using echolocation: they send out waves and can detect prey items from the waves bouncing back or 'echoing'. Some moths with ears are able to hear microbats with very sensitive hearing, and can avoid predation this way. But how do earless moths avoid becoming microbat dinner?
A recent publication in New Scientist details how a group of scientists in the UK have discovered that earless moths have 'sound absorbent' wings! This means that when the waves bounce back off these moths the sound is much quieter, allowing the moth to avoid detection. Check out the image above of a 3D representation of these bats acoustic camouflage, and read more about this exciting discovery.

A 3D representation of a moth wing’s acoustic camouflage pattern:
Simon Reichel, Thomas Neil, Zhiyuan Shen & Marc Holderied

Bat Trivia

Flittermouse is an old English name for Bat
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