Bat night at Werribee, 16 March 2018

Written by: Robert Bender

Rebecca Bond of City of Wyndham had booked about 40 people to attend a bat night with a talk and harp trapping but learned about 3 days before that the booked speaker had no knowledge of the event and wasn’t coming, so I volunteered to fill in. Pia found one EM3 bat detector for me to take.

140 km round trip via the Ring Road, but I arrived on time despite dense weekender traffic.

Julie, from Wyndham was there to set up chairs and lay out a supper of biscuits and hot drinks. The people all arrived by 7:15, including three young children and sat very attentively through my Powerpoint for over 90 minutes, asking many questions along the way.

At the end, nearly everyone stayed to go for a little walk with two EM3s (one from Wyndham) for about 30 minutes and picked up quite a few bat calls at around 50 KHz.

On finishing up all of them said it was a great evening, they learned a lot and had enjoyed it very much. Julie was very grateful the evening had turned out a success despite last-minute panic and said they might ask me to return in 2019.

[Took my camera but got absorbed in the presentation and forgot to take a photo]

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Bats at Wilson Res and Burke Rd. Billabong, 10 March 2018

123456789Written by: Robert Bender

Four of us gathered to check the boxes – Steve, Stanley, Karina Anders (who has done some bat trapping in Kentucky) and me, so we managed two ladders. Steve got all the bats and I got the Huntsmen – many of them.

 

 

The glider box has a somewhat old nest but no gliders. Many of the bats escaped, flying out before Steve reached the top of the ladder to block the box exit.

 

 

But with 9 bats from Burke Rd. and 28 from Wilson Reserve, there was work to do on deck. Three of us shared the bat assessing and Stanley scribed.

 

 

 

Most bats, as always, were Gould’s.

 

 

 

 

There were two Broadnosed bats, this one being the often-captured male, 96518

 

 

 

Karina and Steve did most of the bats, Steve having to band 3 young as yet unbanded bats, 2 females from Wilson Reserve, 1 male from Burke Rd.

 

 

 

We had a sunny near-windless afternoon, so sitting on the deck was very pleasant.

 

 

 

All done by 4 p.m., so everyone went home and I hung the bats in the cool laundry until after dark. The flash wouldn’t go off when bats were flying from the bags, so I just got photos of bats emerging.

 

 

 

There had been 77 bats in the boxes and tubes, and that would have been a great March catch, had 41 of them not escaped and scattered.

Box Bats Species Adult Esc
      M F  
B11 16 Gould’s 5 11  
B14 9

2

Gould’s

Broadnose

 

1

4

1

5
B12 13 Gould’s   3 10
B06 2 Gould’s 1 1  
B13 1 Gould’s 1    
B04 25 Gould’s     25
  68 Total 8 20 40
Burke Rd.        
T06 4 Gould’s   4  
T08 2 Gould’s 1 1  
T02 1 Gould’s 1    
T03 1 Gould’s   1  
T05 1 Gould’s     1
  77   10 26 41
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Bats at the Organ Pipes 11 Feb 2018

1245678910111213Written by: Robert Bender

A beautiful day for outdoor work, mild and windless, and many bats to extract from boxes. This group in C9

 

 

 

This time of year Bat-fly pupae are abundant.

 

 

 

The new chainsawed hollow-logs are yet to meet with approval from the bats. There were a few Grey Huntsmen, and it is breeding time so egg sacs were being defended by the brave mother spiders. There were also two wee Jumping Spiders, Hypoblemum and Servaea villosa, I think.

 

 

Soon the bat assessing team arrived and got to work

 

 

 

Nadiah Roslan worked on her bat assessing skills under Lindy’s supervision, Andrea scribing for her.

 

 

Those two, and Cassandra Nichols, CEO of Earthwatch Australia, were there in part to investigate possibilities of setting up an Earthwatch project around our bat box monitoring, a bit like the Botanic Gardens project that Lisa Godinho, then Casey, used to lead: some science and some practical fieldwork.

 

 

We had many casual park visitors drop in. Jemma Cripps did several show-and-tells for young families.

 

 

 

And so did Caroline for one family. Great opportunity to introduce little bats to people who’d never seen one.

 

 

 

We had several new scribes. Casey paired with Jase Hannon.

 

 

 

There were three Freetails, one with an unusual belly-stripe.

 

 

 

 

And just one young sub-adult Large Forest bat male.

 

 

With just over 200 bats to assess, and several people in the very early stages of doing bat assessing, it was near 7 p.m. when they were all done, and we had two hours to wait before it was dark enough to release them. So the 9 or 10 people who stayed to participate in that went for a walk along the creek below the Pipes.

 

Just after 9 o’clock, we got into opening bags and watching little bats fly off into the night. A large fraction of the day’s catch were sub-adults, just beginning their life of flying to catch their own dinner, but all flew off quickly, including a couple that were found to have wing injuries.

Box Bat Species    Adult

  M               F

Juv

 M             F

C46 64

1

Gould’s

Lge Forest

14 31 11

1

8
C15 17 Gould’s 3 13 1  
C42 13

3

Gould’s

Freetail

6

1

7

2

   
C07 15 Gould’s 3 9 1 2
C41 15 Gould’s 2 12 1  
C35 13 Gould’s 1 7 2 3
C16 11 Gould’s 2 9    
C44 11 Gould’s 3 7   1
C09 8 Gould’s 2 5   1
C17 7 Gould’s   7    
C40 6 Gould’s   4 2  
C43 5 Gould’s   3   2
C34 5 Gould’s   5    
C05 2 Gould’s   1 1  
C01 1 Gould’s 1      
C13 1 Gould’s 1      
C20 1 Gould’s 1      
C27 1 Gould’s 1      
C33 1 Gould’s 1      
  201 Totals 42 122 20 17
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Bats at Wilson Reserve 3rd February 2018

Written by: Robert Bender

1

234567

After postponing the day due to extreme heat events, we eventually held the box monitoring and got a team of five for the afternoon: Steve and Danielle (whose post-grad research has been upgraded to PhD – much bigger than she initially thought), Ben Carr and Karina Anders.

 

Several big rain events meant there was a big pool beneath the tree holding boxes 1 & 15. I was in gum-boots so got to climb the ladder. Box 1 had a mother Huntsman guarding her precious egg sac full of her children.

 

Steve and Dani did all the other boxes and Dani did B3 that had a big group of 30 bats, plus 56 more escapees that flew out as the ladder hit the tree. Only four other boxes had small groups, so it was soon over. In December I had raked a wide trail along the meander of boxes, to make access easier, especially with the ladders. That took a week of doing about 10 metres a day and will need ongoing maintenance as removing the Trad invites Nightshade to sprout the large load of seeds in the ground.

Glider box 2, next to bat box B17, had two gliders in it again – now there for almost six months, since first seen last August. Show-and-tell for a passing couple who had not seen a bat before and as always, were amazed.

 

We moved to the back deck of my house as usual, where Steve, Dani and Karina dealt with a large crop of 36 full-grown adolescent bats that had to be banded. We had guests over to lunch who had a little show-and-tell provided by Steve and Dani.

 

 

The day’s catch included two species: Gould’s and Broadnosed bats.

 

 

 

After they’d been assessed and everyone went off home the bats hung in my laundry until after dark, when I went down to release them. All the Gould’s flew off instantly but several of the Broadnose sat and had a think about it. The night was warm and windless so I’m sure they got straight into hunting.

 

Box Bats Species Adult Sub Esc
 

 

    M F M F  
B03 34

2

Gould’s Broadn 1

1

7

1

8 12 6
B08 9

1

Gould’s

Broadn

 

1

6 3    
B11 9 Gould’s   2 3 4  
B14 2 Broadn       2  
B05 1 Gould’s 1        
  58 Total 4 16 14 18 6
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Bats at the Organ Pipes, 17 Dec 2017

Written by: Robert Bender

12345678910We had a beautiful summer day at the park, with many helpers at the ladders. Steve went up the east side of the track where all the maternity groups had gathered while I went up the west side. Had a peek into one glider box and found a very growly glider.

 

 

 

My one middle-sized group in box 3:

 

 

 

Steve reattached one box and repaired a lid, then we drove up to the Visitor Centre where a big team of 20 people gathered to assess our 233 bats.

 

 

 

Jarrod scribed for Dani, who banded many juvenile Gould’s

 

 

 

 

Sarah Deborre came with her friend Anita and scribed for her and Casey, who also did much banding.

 

 

 

Caitlin Tolsma scribed for Caroline Durre, while Michelle scribed for Andrew

 

 

 

We had two vets from Healesville, Veronica Peric with a dangly bat earring, and David Blyth.

 

 

 

And the Smith family: Martina and David with children Molly and Oliver, who has a passion for bats.

 

 

 

We were all done by 7, and I had three volunteers to help put all the mothers and pups back in their boxes, which took two hours, so we left at 9 p.m.

 

 

 

Putting all those bat one by one back up the entrance slits, and encouraging them not to fly out before dark was a slow business.

Box Bat Species    Adult

  M      F

Juvenile

 M      F

C45 84 Gould’s 1 28 30 25
C39 37 Gould’s   14 10 13
C36 33 Gould’s   12 11 10
C03 21 Gould’s   9 5 7
C37 16 Gould’s 1 8 3 4
C35 8 Gould’s 1 7    
C13 12 Gould’s   5 4 3
C46 10 Freetail 8 2    
C09 4 Gould’s   4    
C07 3 Gould’s 2 1    
C17 2

1

Gould’s

Freetail

1

1

1    
C40 2 Gould’s 1 1    
C06 1 Gould’s 1      
C16 1 Gould’s 1      
C27 1 Gould’s 1      
C33 1 Gould’s 1      
C42 1 Gould’s 1      
C43 1 Gould’s   1    
  233 Totals 22 86 63 62

The two new multi-chambered boxes between them had over 40% of the bats, so the bats really like them.

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Bats at Wilson Reserve, 18 November 2017

12345678910Written by Robert Bender

 

We had two new recruits to help us, Lynne Stockdale, a local artist, and friend Laurence Beesley, who scribed.

 

 

With their help we managed two ladders. Lucky me got box 20, with 20 bats in it, of the 24 for the day, a mix of 15 Gould’s and 5 Broadnose (a record number for this species)

 

 

 

Two of the Gould’s females had given birth recently.

 

 

 

The 5 Broadnose bats were all pregnant females, a first for our boxes, to have Broadnose bats treat them as breeding sites. They have a single young, so one bulge.

 

 

 

Glider box 2 had the highlight for the day, 3 gliders.

 

 

 

And in the hollow of the multi-stemmed Redgum with box 6, the usual al-fresco Brushtail.

 

 

Steve was keen to examine and assess the Gould’s mothers and put them back in box 20, with the pregnant females. These pups still had their umbilicus attached.

 

 

 

There were some unbanded bats, so we had to go to my house, where Steve did a show-and-tell for Carolyn’s Amnesty group, who were fascinated.

 

 

 

Kristin did the assessing and scribing.

 

 

 

The last bat was a bad-tempered Chocolate Wattled bat male. With just 24 bats, it was all over by 5 o’clock, so Kristin and Steve went off home. The forecast storm started thundering soon after, so I decided to take the bagged bats and put them all back into box 20 before the rain started.

 

 

It began to pour just as I got back to my car, so that was good timing. There were none in the Burke Rd tubes.

Box Bats Species Adult Pups Esc
M F    
B20 15

5

Gould’s

Broadnose

1

 

13

5

4

 

1

 

B02 1 Gould’s 1
B03 1 Gould’s 1
B05 1 Gould’s 1
B12 1 Gould’s 1
  24 Total 5 18 4 1
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Bat Night at Marcus Hill, Bellarine

123Written by: Robert Bender

The Bellarine Landcare group invited a speaker for their 11 October meeting and I volunteered. It is south east of Geelong, near Queenscliff. The meeting was at a fairly isolated hall, part of Greater Geelong infra-structure.

An audience of 25 was expected but as often happens the night was cold and rainy, so the audience reduced to 13. It is a very active Landcare group and they usually do better than that, but the weather determines who will venture out for the night.

I have my usual Powerpoint presentation, tweaked to refer to the problems associated with bat box projects, as so many groups get enthusiastic about setting up boxes without understanding the problems they are taking on. I left a copy with the group on their laptop. As it was too wet for a bat-detector walk, though it was well into bat pregnancy season, the talk went on much longer than planned, with many questions from the audience. The evening was organized by Sophie Small, the local Landcare Co-ordinator (on the left of the photo) and she kindly organised for Kath Lockhart (right) of the group’s committee to put me up for the night as it was a long way home.

The evening went very well, and apparently they have a speaker about some local issue almost monthly. They hope to persuade many local landholders to install bat boxes soon on their properties.

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