Batty visitors wing it

A HUGE dark cloud has been hanging over Hervey Bay at dusk.

Thousands of flying foxes – Little Reds, Blacks and Greys – have made Tooan Tooan Creek their home.

In summer the resident Black-headed flying foxes at Tooan Tooan Creek on the Esplanade are sometimes joined by the Little Red flying foxes, as is the case again this year.

The nomadic Little Reds, which feed on nectar, fly in from western Queensland as eucalypts flower.

The Little Reds weren’t permanent residents and would move on to feed elsewhere in the coming months, Fraser Coast council Environmental Sustainability portfolio chair councillor Sue Brooks said.

The extra bodies increase the number of flying foxes at the Tooan Tooan Creek colony by tens of thousands.

Sometimes there are so many flying foxes there are simply not enough branches on trees within the colony to accommodate all of the bodies so some spill into the mangroves along the creek, trees adjoining Apex Park or the bigger trees on the foreshore across the Esplanade from the colony.

People are asked to leave the bats alone. If you find an injured flying fox do not touch it.

Contact Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Hotline on 1300 130 372 to be put in contact with the nearest wildlife carer.

In response to the increased numbers, the council will attend Apex Park next to the colony daily for regular cleaning and maintenance of playground equipment and furniture.

Because the animals continually move around, equipment may be soiled from time to time.

People using the park may stir up flying foxes in the nearby trees, which then fly to other areas of the colony to find a roost, causing more fights and noise.

There is a fair amount of noise coming from the colony now as the bats are in breeding mode and males fight to establish a territory.

The slightly more pungent than usual smell coming from the colony is not due to a build up of droppings but from the males secreting a scent to attract a mate.

In Queensland flying foxes, or fruit bats, are protected by the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Flying foxes are under threat, and as their habitat disappears, drought and other factors start to have greater impact. They are important to the natural environment because they pollinate trees, especially eucalypts, and spread seeds of native plants.

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