The Melbourne bat box monitoring program is run by a community of bat researchers and volunteers interested in the conservation of hollow-dependent microbats, and the education of the wider public about the ecology and values of these fascinating creatures.
There are three sites across Melbourne where we have installed boxes or tubes, which are monitored on a monthly or bi-montly basis:
- Wilson Reserve, Ivanhoe and Burke Road Billabong, in Kew East (map). Next check: TBC. Meet at the carpark at the end of Irvine rd.
- Organ Pipes National Park, in Keilor North (map). Next check: Sunday 11th December 2022, 12pm. Meet at the boxes at the bottom of the big hill (walk down the paved road that leads from the carpark), or if you arrive a little later handlers may be in the visitor centre.
New volunteers are always welcome – even if you just want to pop along to see a critter you’ve never seen before. Please visit our “What to expect” page prior to your visit.
Tally of the number of individuals banded or microchipped so far:
- Gould’s wattled bat, Chalinolobus gouldii: 2,225
- White-striped free-tailed bat, Austronomus australis: 156
- Large forest bat, Vespadelus darlingtoni: 71
- Eastern broad-nosed bat, Scotorepens orion: 24
- Chocolate wattled bat, Chalinolobus morio: 23
- Little forest bat, Vespadelus vulturnus: 10
- Southern forest bat, Vespadelus regulus: 1
The program is run on an entirely voluntary basis by keen individuals in their own time.
Although we are a cast of constantly changing characters, Robert Bender has been running the Organ Pipes National Park and Wilson Reserve monitoring programs for many years now, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about these. The Burke Rd. Billabong nesting tubes and chainsaw cavities (http://brbreserve.org/) are overseen by Stanley Barker, contactable at email@example.com.
The key contacts for the monitoring at Gresswell Reserve and the La Trobe University Wildlife Sanctuary are Steve Griffiths S.Griffiths@latrobe.edu.au and Danielle Eastick D.Eastick@latrobe.edu.au. Dani manages our Facebook page which can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/Melbbatboxes/.
Other individuals involved include Dr. Lindy Lumsden from the Arthur Rylah Institute and Dr. Pia Lentini, Dr. Lisa Godinho and Dr. Casey Visintin from the University of Melbourne. We are aided by the Friends of the Organ Pipes National Park, the Friends of Wilson Reserve, and the La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary.
We occasionally seek grants to hep fund the replacement and repair of the boxes, and the purchasing of processing and other scientific equipment.
To date grants from the following organisations have made the project possible:
- Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment
- Parks Victoria’s Research Partners Panel
- The Norman Wettenhall Foundation
- Vic. Dept. of Environment and Primary Industries – Communities for Nature Grant
- Banyule City Council
- Bendigo Bank
- M. A. Ingram Trust
- Bat Conservation International
- Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia
- Australasian Bat Society
Hi, I’ll be in Melbourne February 18 – March 2. Are you planning any field trips I could join? Thank you.
Hi Vladimir – unfortunately at the moment we’ve just got the box checks pencilled in for the 11th Feb and 3rd March, so it looks like you’ll just miss us! Thanks for your interest in the program anyway 🙂
Well, thanks! I hope it’s not my last trip to Melbourne. Please let me know if the dates change 🙂
Are the bat boxes at Shepherd’s Bush Park yours? I saw a few bats emerging at sunset, but couldn’t identify them with any certainty; I wonder if you know what species they are.
Hi again. Anything planned for December 10-22, by any chance?
Yes! I’ve just updated the dates, next Organ Pipes check will be the 16th Dec.
Thanks! Do we meet in the parking lot? Also, is it OK to bring my daughter (4 y. old)? She is used to fieldwork.
P.S. I’m vaccinated and have bat handling experience. But my vaccination certificate might be difficult to dig up.
Those boxes aren’t part of the monitoring program per se but are part of Steve Griffith’s PhD research – when he last checked them they were being occupied by Gould’s wattled bats 🙂
I am pretty sure there’s more than one species there now. I got some photos of bats emerging at dusk, but they are poor quality because I didn’t want to use external flash.
Hi, I’m curious if there are any programs on the southern Mornington Peninsula? I’d like to learn more, and I’d love to install some boxes around my house in Rye but am unsure if our trees are suitable (moonah, wattle, tea tree mainly). Thanks!
Hi Erin – not that I’m aware of, but it would be worth getting in touch with your local Friends group to find out. I know the shire also have quite an active nest box program, so they might also have some information prepared for residents. You generally want to install boxes as high up as possible to allow the bats adequate room to take off and so they’re not vulnerable to predators, so I suspect acacias and melaleucas may not be tall or girthy enough. This “boxes for bats” info sheet that we prepared for the bat society may also be handy: http://ausbats.org.au/bat-fact-sheets/4562894228
Hi, just wondering if some of your boxes are PVC piping or if there has been any success with designs for PVC pipe bat roosts?
Hi Eleanor – there are PVC tubes at the Burke Rd. Billabong site but they don’t seem to get used as much as the boxes. Typically, a couple will have one or two individuals, but I think we’ve only gotten Gould’s wattled bats in them to date. Cheers – Pia