Thursday, January 8, 2009

Conservation Volunteers Christmas BBQ

As a volunteer I was entitled to go to the CVA's volunteers Christmas BBQ which was held on the 16th of Dec in Yarra Bend Park. The reason for choosing this venue was because it is where Melbourne's resident colony of Flying Foxes (Large bats) roost.

I had to make my way to the CVA offices for 10am and only just made before the bus took us to the park. The annoying thing was that it passed by my bleeding hostel to get there!

Once there the volunteers were given a guided tour of the colony by Prue before having a gigantic meal of sausages, burgers and salad. It was great to have a free meal which I did not have to cook for myself. I should have had the courage to ask if I could take some of the left overs home with me - I could have ate like a king for days on coleslaw and cold burgers!

Featured Animal: Grey Headed Flying Fox

I forgot to mention that as well as all the other conservation things that Prue does she is also heavily involved with Bat conservation. The colony of bats in the Yarra park were not always there. Several years ago they roosted in the botanic gardens in the centre of Melbourne where they were causing severe damage to the plants.

It was decided that, if possible, the bats should be moved to another location. Prue was involved in this move and explained to the assembled volunteers how they did it.

At first they tried capturing the bats (no mean feat) and relocating them to a new place but that proved useless - they simply flew back! They also tried using caged bats in areas and bat sounds in order to entice them into another area but again it was no good.

In the end they came up with an ingenious method of herding the bats using noise. What they did was use large stereo systems mounted on the back of vehicles and played loud sounds in botanic gardens early in the morning as the bats came back to roost. Once they made the place unlivable for the bats they started using a wall of sound to gradually 'herd' the bats from one area to another until finally they came to rest in Yarra Park. The method was debunked by other organisations but it worked. It took a lot of time and effort to accomplish and Yarra park was not the intended final destination but it was deemed good enough. The bats have been there ever since. Prue still helps with a monthly bat count carried out as the bats leave in a full moon.

Each one of those dark balls is a bat!

Slightly closer.

Really close.

Although most of the bats roosted on the other side of the river there were some on our side and in places you could actually walk below them. Some of them even flew about from time to time.

Here are pics of the fact boards.

I was determined to come back some day to see them flying at dusk.

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