Bat night

It’s cold in Sydney today. 9.7 degrees Celsius on the BOM at 8.30 this morning. Plodding around the grey wet streets to get coffee just now, I wore ugg boots and wool wristwarmers, and the ambience reminded me of embracing such weather in more tree-filled places like Kallista and Blackheath last winter.

Camp for grey-headed flying foxes at Wolli Creek
Camp for grey-headed flying foxes at Wolli Creek

Today is also bat day. The Wolli Creek Preservation Society counts grey-headed flying foxes in the Wolli Creek Valley once a month. In May the kids and I headed to Turrella Reserve for our first count. Awaiting dusk, A1 submitted his hand to one of the other counters and they descended the creek embankment to observe a heron and watch the water move slowly under the bridge. Then it was time to take positions and focus on a wedge of sky, awaiting the first flying fox. N3 clicked her counter restlessly, and then a flappy lone flying fox appeared, almost floating in the purple sky like a piece of ashy kindling. The colony vanguard was slow, and clicking for every five bats, the average seemed low (N3’s count excluded!). Later we learned that the foxes had taken a turn to the south, with around 85% of them emerging at two other counting sites on the other side of the creek. For further perspective, the May count of 6500-odd at Turrella was small compared to camps at Bateman’s Bay, where the flying foxes have been since March for the abundance of flowering trees and are flying out in clumps of 50 rather than five.

Tonight’s count will embrace more small people, as friends come with their two children. Which direction will the flying foxes go in the rain? They have to emerge to feed regardless of the weather.

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