Bats get a bad rap, but do good work
THE sight of thousands of bats flying from the Tooan Tooan Creek Bridge each afternoon is always spectacular.
But it's what goes on behind the scenes in the Pialba Esplanade habitat that is truly fascinating, says Hervey Bay environmentalist John Parsons.
"Most people don't know and it really intrigues them," Mr Parsons said.
"The reason they take off at night is because the flowers on the tops of the trees only open after midnight, and are only open for about two hours.
"So they fly to a good forest, get as much food as they possibly can in the two hours and come back here at about 3 to 4am."
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Mr Parsons is part of a group of volunteers, wildlife staff and university students who monitor bat populations in Queensland.
Together they collect data that is studied by researchers so bat behaviour can be better understood.
Mr Parsons said education was the key when it comes to understanding and learning that the microbats and megabats, which often get a bad rap, contribute significantly to the environment.
The megabats consume fruit flowers and pollens, while the microbats feed on insects, including mosquitoes, moths and beetles.
"The fruit bats go into the hardwood forests and pollinate the top of the trees.
"The fruit bats keep you alive - their job is to pollinate the hardwood forests.
"You know what the honey bee does in the back garden - if he doesn't pollinate all of the fruits, trees and flowers, you don't get anything, no flowers."
He said when it rains, the bats excretions act as a fertiliser, helping to grow more big leafy trees.
"A big leaf takes in lots of carbon and puts out lots of oxygen, which is what we need ... we are part of the lungs of the world system.
"If you take the flying foxes out of the system the trees will die within 50 years and we won't get any oxygen."
After working to educate the public for about 11 years, Mr Parsons said the minority was coming around.
"There's still the odd few people that don't like them but most people, now that they understand them, are putting up with them.
"We don't ask you to like them ... just respect them and the job they do."
Mr Parsons will talk on flying foxes and microbats at the Hervey Bay Library on Friday, April 17 from noon, as well as hold education sessions at the Tooan Tooan Creek Bridge every afternoon at 5.30pm from April 13-17.
He will also have a display and be available in person from Monday, April 13 to Thursday, April 16, in the Hervey Bay Library foyer from 9-11am.
Phone him on 4124 0876.