I showed up in Sydney wanting to see the flying foxes that lived in the Botanical Gardens, but it turns out that they’ve been driven out in recent years (I guess because all of those tiny feet were wearing out the trees). So as a back-up, J and I took a taxi out to Wolli Creek where there has been a sometimes-seasonal sometimes-year-round bat camp. (Apparently a group of bats is called a ‘camp,’ at least if you’re in Australia.)
There were lots!
Here’s a bat that decided to roost, briefly, right over our heads:
Here is them just starting to wake up and (presumably) chatting about how they’ll spend the night:
And here’s a video of them bathing/drinking/cooling off before they set out for the night:
I tried to take some high-speed footage which isn’t in great focus but is spooky (and has spooky audio to match):
These are grey-headed flying foxes. For Minnesota reference, the big ones have a wingspan about like a Cooper’s hawk (or an extra-large crow) and weigh about twice as much. This time last year they counted 24,000 at this site, which is basically just a patch of woods between two suburbs and behind a train station. Even given all-night flight I don’t at all understand how there’s enough food around to support ton after ton of high-metabolism bat meat.
If we’d arrived at dusk then they would have been impossible to miss, but finding the resting bats in the afternoon based on googled anecdotes was a bit of trouble, so for future googlers here’s a capture of our cab ride, walk, and train trip:
You can tell that we (and our generous cab driver) spent a while trying to find a way into the park and then a while longer thinking that we were in the wrong place until we got advice from a helpful jogger. In retrospect the directions are simple: Take the train to Turella station, walk past the big Laser Tag arena and across the creek, head left on the jogging path until you get to the river, and the look across the river.