Bat box check at the Organ Pipes, 16 August 2015

Written by – Robert Bender

A beautiful winter afternoon, fine, windless and quite warm, just right for outdoor work. Steve arrived early to start on the boxes and had over half of them done when I arrived at 2.15 with four recruits waiting in the car park: Rachel Lee, Jessica Taylor, Claire Hollier and Alex Hendren, to add to the big group already helping Steve. I only had 7 boxes to do and found one group of 13 Gould’s.


Peeked into a few glider boxes (closing some that had been propped open) and found a Ringtail possum had sneaked into one box.


A few casual park visitors stopped for a show-and-tell from Lindy, while Emmi Scherlies and husband Armstrong waited with a bat hanger. Steve took down several boxes that were much in need of repair – lids missing, rotten back plates, warped lids, etc., and then we were off to the Visitor Centre to set up processing with a team of about 15. We had another two people eager to see bats come in following my car after the park closed – very excited to get a peek at ongoing research.


Steve set up his genetic sampling kit at one end, assisted by Michael Bajer, with bat assessing going on at the other end. Steve had a laptop with a spread -sheet of banded bats, so Rebecca checked it for verifying that bands were being read correctly.


Manisha, Rachel, Claire, Amanda and Lindy examin-ed the bats, with the others scribing. There was one Freetail, one Chocolate Wattled Bat and the rest were Gould’s.


One new bat to be banded, the other 86 already banded. Amanda Bush,




Claire Hollier





Alex Hendren and Armstrong Scherlies





Early evening there was a bit of excitement as one male Gould’s escaped, flew around and settled atop the data projector pole, which had been taped over, but leaving a small gap between it and the bracket screwed to the roof, just big enough for a little bat.


I brought in my ladder, a table was placed against it, Lindy leaned against the ladder, Steve, Michael and Armstrong held it steady while I climbed to the roof and retrieved the bat, which walked out onto my hand to escape my other hand, was weighed and measured and popped into its bag with its roost mates.

About 8 o’clock we all drove down to the Pipes to release the bats. All but one flew off quickly, the last one having gone a bit torpid. When I drove off to fetch my ladder, it eventually decided to fly off under its own steam.

Lots of gear and leftover food to pack up, and we were out of the park at 8:30 or so.

We had 89 bats altogether, 87 Gould’s and 1 each of Freetail and Chocolate Wattled Bat. As has become normal in winter, 2/3 of the bats were in the thick-walled, well-insulated boxes. Boxes 32 and 36 are the most-used boxes in August. And also quite normal, the one little Chocolate bat chose a box with small entrance slit and small internal volume. There were 30 post-lactating females to 28 preparous, so the PL were a slight majority.

Box Bat Species    Adult

  M                      F

C32 23 Gould’s 6 17
C36 23 Gould’s 7 16
C14 17




7 10


C29 13 Gould’s 2 11
C15 8 Gould’s 3 5
C22 1 Gould’s 1
C33 1 Gould’s 1
C42 1 Gould’s 1
C19 1 Chocolate 1
  89 Totals 28 61

About Pia Lentini

Pia Lentini is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the University of Melbourne's Quantitative and Applied Ecology group.
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