Bat box check at Wilson Reserve, 12 December 2015

Written by: Robert Bender

1 2 3 4 5 6Full of hope to see loads of mother bats with newborn pups, a group gathered at the car park and toted the ladder around the circuit. Steve and I had checked the Burke Rd tubes earlier (Stanley was attending his daughter’s engagement party) and found one Gould’s, which waited patiently in my laundry. Jessica, and fellow Vet. Sci. student Ashley Mooney, Jess Taylor, Irina Ternovskaya, and three new recruits: Christie East Genie Fleming and Sean Drummond.

Some went with Steve and some came with me. A newly snapped Wattle blocked the way to boxes 20 and 13 – victim of a recent windstorm. Box 20 had the first bat, our first-ever Large Forest bat with a pup, already furred and quite big.

Several Grey Huntsman spiders, some panicky, running madly all over the box, some bracing themselves for a battle to the death with a creature 40,000 times their weight.

Box 15 had a male Broadnosed bat, banded last January, and found in a box each of the past 3 months, so perhaps now a resident. All the iButtons were reattached to the rings under box lids.

Steve found the same Gould’s male in box 26 that had been there last time, and that was it for the day.

Genie & Sean (right), Christie (below):

Jess W suggested that, as there were so few bats, we might examine them at the picnic table and put them straight back in their boxes, so we did that. I went off to fetch the bands from my garage, and some cold drinks. Steve banded the Forest bat, Jess showed Christie how to obtain the information wanted for our records.

In a very short time it was all over and we marched the ladder around again to return the 3 bats to their boxes, stuffing the entrance slits with rolled tea towels on fishing line to be pulled out once the bats had settled inside and were unlikely to fly out in daylight. I pulled out a young Box Elder and a little Wintercherry, and thought I’d lost my car keys so we had a big search for them – found them in my shoulder bag later. Very disappointing all the mother bats (apart from the one Forest bat) had chosen to roost elsewhere for the day, and there won’t be time to try again during the week.

I weighed and measured the Burke Rd Gould’s later and drove over to return him to Tube 5. He was banded in Dec 2013 in Wilson Reserve box 6, captured 11 times over the following 15 months, developed a mild band-ing injury in March this year, so had a new band put on his other arm, was recaptured with the new band, 96523 three times and appeared in Nov and again this month, in a Burke Rd. tube, the first time any bat has migrated from Wilson Reserve to Burke Rd. in the 4 years since banding started.

Wilson reserve box tally:

Box Bats Species Adult
      M F
B15 1 Broadnose 1  
B20 1 Lge Forest   1
B26 1 Gould’s 1  
  3 Total 2 1

Burke rd. tube tally:

Tube Bats Species Adult
      M F
T05 1 Gould’s 1  
  4 Total 3 1

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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