The flying foxes have abandoned the Myles Dunphy Camp, Oatley.
Since 10 Nov 2009 Geoff Francis has been keeping track of the Flying Fox numbers in the reserve. Estimated numbers of Flying foxes in the reserve peaked around 12 October 2010 at about 2070 Flying Foxes.
I didn’t do any fly-out counts during this period. This was partly because of late fly-outs starting 20:45 or later and having to get up at 5:00 to go to work on the following day. There were also Xmas parties and visits to the relatives in the latter part of the week. The gut feeling that I have is that they left during the earlier part of this week, as I counted only 13 on 16 December, the lowest number I have ever recorded during periods when the camp was occupied.
Although the bats have abandoned the Camp, they are still visiting the Reserve in numbers. Since at least 26 December, about 400-600 of them have been flying into the Reserve from the northeast, with the first ones arriving about 20:40-20:45. Most likely they have come from the Wolli Creek Camp, though they could have come from the Royal Botanic Gardens, where the fly-out starts earlier than at Myles Dunphy. Most of the bats fly through the Reserve and head south towards Como West or the Woronora estuary, though some continue southwest towards Illawong. However, about 100 are landing locally in or around Myles Dunphy Reserve. This is surprising, since hardly any Mytaceae are flowering (only Angophora floribunda, A. bakeri and Acmena smithii, and there are very few of them around the Reserve). It’s really only a few fruiting Port Jackson Figs and the exotic palms with nuts in backyards, which provide obvious food at present.
If so many are landing in and around the Reserve, even though food is not abundant, they are probably in for a difficult season. In contrast, last year the Angophora costata flowered prolifically and several Eucalypts also flowered in late Spring/early Summer. The shortage of food has possibly contributed to the unusually early abandonment of the Myles Dunphy Camp, where bats usually stay until at least March. The southwest flight direction of bats visiting the Reserve is unusual. I have been monitoring the bats around the Reserve since November 2009. On all previous occasions when the Myles Dunphy Camp was not occupied, most of the bats visiting the Reserve came north from Kareela Camp, and the main flight path in the area was north from Kareela. This is a distinct change in bat movements.