FLYING fox experts have confirmed at least one of the grey-headed flying foxes in the 40,000-strong group that’s taken up residence near Tamworth’s Paradise Bridge is a recent Sydney Botanic Gardens evictee.
In fact, the experts who visited the city recently have suggested the massive colony of foxes may be a combination of all of the bats in a number of “problem” colonies that have been driven out of townships between Sydney and our city.
It’s also possible some of the flying offenders have made the move from Queensland for the next few months thanks to to a bumper season of white box flowers in and around the Tamworth region.
Wildlife ecologist Tim Pearson visited Tamworth recently and confirmed one of the flying foxes in our huge colony had previously been based in Sydney and was one of a number tagged with a tracking device in early June, after the 5000-strong colony in the Sydney gardens was moved on with the help of industrial noise makers.
Resident of Tamworth’s Hayne St, on the New England Highway side of the Peel River, Brian Harris and his wife Pat, said the colony was the biggest they had seen in the 12 years they have lived in the street.
“When we moved here in 2000 there wa a small colony of about 1000 flying foxes at the end of the street,” Mr Harris said.
Those flying foxes apparently only stayed for the summer season and then moved on.
Mr Harris said he’d been told the current colony, which arrived in late June, was likely to do the same – when the plethora of white box flowers were no more.
“Apparently this is the biggest season for white box flowers in some time,” he said.
“And as a food source flying foxes love the flowers, so that’s why they are here.
“When the flowers are gone its more than likely the bats will go too.”
Mr Harris said on dark the bats staged a progressive mass exodus from their “sleeping spot” in the trees along the Peel River.
“About 5.30pm or 6pm they all start to go,” he said.
“It takes about half-an-hour for them to all leave and then about 4am or 5am they are all back in the trees.”
Mr Harris said the flying foxes “headed out Moore Creek way”.
He said the best thing people could do was leave the foxes alone.
“We were told the more noise you make the more stress you cause them,” he said.
“And the more stress you cause them, the more likely they will shed and that’s when they’re more likely to spread the Hendra virus.”
A spokeswoman for the Office of Environment and Heritage said yesterday the office was checking on the colony weekly to detect any changes that were occurring.
She said while how long the foxes would stay depended on food resources, it was anticipated the colony would leave “in the next month or two”.