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Dibble Avenue Waterhole -  a biodiversity hotspot & returned to being one of Marrickville's really beautiful historic places.  There is a microbat box on the pier on the left.

Dibble Avenue Waterhole – a biodiversity hotspot & returned to being one of Marrickville’s really beautiful historic places. There is a microbat box on the pier on the left.

Marrickville Council are holding another free ‘Microbat Walk and Talk’ after a successful event last year.  I participated & can say it was a very enjoyable & informative experience. See – http://bit.ly/1mL83er

The walk starts at the A C Croft Playground & if Council takes the same route, includes a look at the newly re-vegetated Dibble Avenue Waterhole, which is looking quite beautiful these days.  The walk then goes along the Cooks River in the direction of Illawarra Road.

After the sunset walk, a bat specialist & a bat carer will give a free talk about microbats at the Debbie & Abbey Borgia Centre.

MICROBAT WALK –

WHEN: Wednesday 16th April 2014.

TIME:  5pm – 6.30pm

WHERE:  Meet at the A C Croft playground, Dibble Avenue Marrickville.    Note: Council asks that participants wear suitable walking shoes & clothing as the walking track is uneven & unpaved.   They also ask that you bring a torch or headlight.

MICROBAT TALK –

WHEN: Wednesday 16th April 2014.

TIME:  6.30pm – 8.00pm

WHERE:  Function Room, Level 1, Debbie & Abbey Borgia Centre,
Illawarra Road Marrickville.


Both events are suitable for adults & children 8-years & over.   You will need to book a place for the microbat walk, talk or both,
 as places are limited.   RSVP by Wednesday 9th April – biosup@marrickville.nsw.gov.au or phone 9335 2222.


Dibble Avenue Waterhole -  a biodiversity hotspot & returned to being one of Marrickville's really beautiful historic places.  There is a microbat box on the pier on the left.

Dibble Avenue Waterhole – a biodiversity hotspot & thankfully, returned to being one of Marrickville’s really beautiful historic places. There is a microbat box on the pier on the left.

On the 18th September 2013 I went on a Microbat Walk organised by Marrickville Council.  Around 22 people met at AB Croft Playground next to the Dibble Avenue Waterhole.  Council’s Biodiversity Officer & Ecologist & bat specialist Narawan Williams from Newcastle were our guides.

Kudos to Marrickville Council for the work they have done on the AB Croft Playground.   There are new trees, new park benches, tastefully displayed sandstone boulders in amongst mulch in the areas that tend to become boggy & a very nice new set of playground equipment.

Microbat box at Dibble Avenue Waterhole

Microbat box at Dibble Avenue Waterhole

The fence that separates the park from the waterhole used to be topped with barbed wire.  That’s gone thank goodness & has been replaced with a high & stylish fence that is secure & unobtrusive, yet allows the public a great view of the waterhole.

I wish all the organizations & companies that are stringing up barbed & razor wire around Marrickville municipality used this kind of fencing.  If they saw the intense suffering barbed & razor wire cause wildlife, they might think differently, especially if they were the person assigned the job of removing the poor, still alive animal, bat or bird with horrific injuries.  It’s a cheap solution that makes our area ugly.  We do not live in a war zone.

Council removed the old rotted pier from the Dibble Avenue Waterhole, but left the pier stumps, so now the waterbirds have nice places to perch. One pier  has a microbat attached.  They also re-vegetated the banks, removing bamboo, weeds & unsuitable trees. The whole place looks remarkably different than it did 2-years ago.  Council’s work has improved the waterhole & surrounds immensely, which is great for both biodiversity & the community.

To my delight we were taken through a private housing complex to a gate on the far side of the AB Croft Playground, which gave us an entirely different view of the waterhole.  Here we saw four man-made microbat boxes that Council has installed in the trees.  We also learnt about which species of microbat has been monitored at the waterhole, as well as information about them.

People asked lots of interesting questions.  I can’t remember it all & unfortunately I didn’t think to take pen & paper to take notes.

The Eastern Bentwing bat, classified as vulnerable, has been spotted in Marrickville.  So have two other species of microbat.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember their names.  Sydney has about 20 species of microbats, about half of which are threatened.

Microbat monitor

Microbat monitor

Then we headed off to the Marrickville Golf Course & were shown two hand-held microbat monitors that record their ultrasonic calls & GPS location.  Microbats are mostly inaudible & the rest are hard for humans to hear.  These monitors pick up the sound pulses of microbats, identify the species by the different pulse & of course, identify whether they are in the area.

The monitors were handed to participants & then we went off for a walk in the dark across the golf course listening for the little microbats.    It was really lovely to be on the golf course at night with lights in the distance & a one-day-off full moon to light the way.  Waterbirds sang from the mangroves & the larger flying foxes from Wolli Creek flew overhead.  I’m not sure whether any microbats were detected, but it was so nice, it really didn’t matter – at least to me.

Another more natural microbat box at Dibble Avenue Waterhole

Another more natural microbat box at Dibble Avenue Waterhole

We then walked to the wooden bridge over the Cooks River located near the Marrickville Golf Club.  Underneath the bridge is another microbat box, as they like to sleep under bridges.  This bridge is about to be replaced as Council feels that it is at the end of its lifespan & costs more money to maintain than replace.  A new bridge will be built a few metres away.  The bulk of the old bridge will be removed, but Council will be leaving the poles for the waterbirds to sit on.  I am very happy about this, as waterbirds have almost nothing to sit on in the river.  These poles will allow the waterbirds to behave naturally.  Besides, the poles will be a visible link to our past.

The walk continued through the golf course to the second event, a talk on microbats by Narawan Williams the microbat specialist who came with us on the walk.  I did not attend the talk, as places were limited.  I am positive that it would have been very interesting.

I thoroughly enjoyed the walk & learning about Council’s work to improve habitat for microbats.  Marrickville Council says they are likely to do this event again soon, so I recommend grabbing a place next time this event is on.  I think you will enjoy yourself & come away with a better appreciation of these little creatures, plus have the lovely experience of walking alongside the river on grass at night.  It was a nature fix for me.   Thank you to Marrickville Council’s Biodiversity Officer & to Narawan.  The event was a total success in my eyes.

Some quick facts about microbats –

  • Microbats are mammals, warm blooded & feed their babies milk.
  • They can be as small as a moth or as big as a human hand.
  • They can make a home in almost any crevice.  They like tree hollows, under lifted bark, caves, under bridges & in the walls or roofs of buildings.
  • Microbats are insect eaters & as such, are extremely useful to humans, as are all bats.  A microbat can eat as 40% of their body weight every night.  Electric insect zappers not only kill useful insects, they kill the food microbats need to survive.
  • Microbats hibernate in winter.  Disturbing them during hibernation causes them to return to operating temperature.  This uses up precious fat reserves & results in their death.
  • Microbats can see, but use echolocation – the projection of sound at frequencies outside the human hearing range – to find food. They listen to their call bouncing off trees, rocks & buildings.
  • They fly fast & low, changing direction often when chasing their prey.
  • Babies are born in spring & summer.  By 8-weeks they are fully developed & can fly & feed with the adults.
The Dibble Avenue Waterhole from the other side, closed to the public.

The Dibble Avenue Waterhole from the other side, closed to the public.  You can see the AB Croft Playground & piers opposite.

Bat box built especially to house microbats.

Bat box built especially to house microbats.  I love how the installation allows the tree to grow without being damaged.

Recently I came across a bat box high in a tree while riding along the river in the Marrickville Golf Course.  I had heard from Council’s Biodiversity Officer that bat boxes had been installed earlier in the year, so it was nice to actually see one.

A paper from the Infrastructure, Planning & Environmental Services Committee Meeting dated 7 May 2013 said –

“Two Goulds Wattled Bats bat boxes have now been installed on Mahoney Reserve & in an adjacent area on the Golf Course along with three Long-eared bat boxes:  one installed at the footbridge & two at Dibble Avenue Waterhole.   The second summer survey has been completed with microbat calls recorded along the river, but not at Dibble Avenue waterhole.“

It’s great to see Marrickville Council installing bat boxes & recording microbat calls.  I hope the bats are happy with their new homes & that more bat boxes are installed along the river & elsewhere in the municipality.

A bit about microbats –

  • They are also called insectivorous bats because they mostly eat insects making them very useful little creatures.
  • Microbats are tiny, weighing from 3g-150g.
  • They are nocturnal, sleeping during the day.
  • They sleep in tree hollows, though these are rare in our municipality, hence the need for bat boxes.  They also sleep in caves, in buildings, in rooftops, rock crevices & under bridges – anywhere that offers them protection.  I have seen a cluster of microbats sleeping while hanging 1-metre from the ground on the brick wall in my parent’s shaded veranda.  A cluster of microbats can fit into the area of a placemat with room to spare.
  • They can travel up to 15-km to find food.
  • Habitat loss & the disturbance of roosting sites are the greatest threat to their survival.
  • Goulds Wattled Bats are not threatened in Australia, though 35 species of Australian microbats are listed as ‘threatened.’

Adelaide Bat Care has a short & lovely video of Goulds Wattled Bats in a bat box so you can see what they look like.  See – http://www.adelaidebatcare.com.au/video.aspx

For a nice photo of a Goulds Wattled Bat, plus information about Goulds Wattled Bats see – http://bit.ly/19RtpDj

Bat box in Marrickville Golf Course.

Bat box in Marrickville Golf Course.

Prepare for big changes in Marrickville because this is just the start of high-rise

1.    The Environment Department has done aerial seeding of 1 million trees across nearly 6,000 hectares of exposed lakebeds in South Australia to ease soil acidification. “It is hoped the plants will stop a spread of toxic dust & add vital organic material to the soil, in a region which faced prolonged drought.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/28/2938871.htm

2.   Clarence Valley Council has done something amazing for the environment. Funded by the Department of Environment Climate Change & Water, they planted 300 rainforest trees for flying-fox habitat over an area of about 3,400 square metres in McLean to manage the bat population. Terrific & compassionate program, far better than the usual to just chuck the bats out or simply cut down the trees. Loud applause. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/media/DecMedia10061801.htm

3.   Yesterday I posted about Goondiwindi Regional Council chopping down Fig trees despite community opposition. Now the Council is going to spend $96,000 on floating footpaths made out of more than 80,000 recycled milk bottle caps. Using this type of footpath means they won’t have to cut the roots of trees or even worse, remove healthy trees because of roots affecting footpaths.  They said they were prepared to send this kind of money because they, “understand how important these trees are to residents.” http://www.goondiwindiargus.com.au/news/local/news/general/tree-choppers-are-really-tree-huggers/1872430.aspx

4.   Nine 150-year-old trees in Burdekin Park near Singleton are to be chopped down because bats classified as threatened species have destroyed them. Singleton Council has arranged to have a qualified bat handler assess & stay with the bats during the nights when their homes are being removed. http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/singleton-trees-cut-but-bats-guarded/1873363.aspx

5.   In NSW a research team from the science & research division of Industry & Investment NSW has managed to record thousands of calls of the Microbat for the first time, making it easier for scientists to identify & protect their habitats. Microbats consume up to 1.5 times their own body weight in one night & are a vital part of our ecosystem. They, like many other of our wildlife are threatened due to loss of habitat because of development. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/bat-man-bugs-hungry-wee-beasties-to-save-them-20100626-zavf.html

6.   Bats are thought of very differently in Italy where people have purchased more than 12,000 bat boxes at £25 each since April 2010 to combat the tiger mosquito that has infected hundreds with Chikungunya Fever. Each bat eats around 10,000 insects a night so they are a non-chemical organic approach to mosquito control. Everyone wins, except the mosquito. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/italians-recruit-bats-to-take-sting-out-of-summer-2006124.html

7.   Hornsby has a new community action group called Stop 20 who are opposed to Hornsby Council’s draft housing strategy, which includes 20-storey housing developments. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/stakes-are-high-for-new-action-group-stop-20/

8.    On 28 June at the Commonwealth Forestry Conference in Edinburgh UK, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said, “We need to show, financially, that trees are worth more alive than dead. Forests, we know, represent almost three-quarters of the world’s terrestrial carbon. Cut them down, & they are responsible for almost a quarter of man-made CO2 emissions. Tackle deforestation, & we go a long way towards tacking climate change.” He also said in 20 years time 80% of the forests that covered the earth in 1947 will be gone.   As well as the loss of thousands of species, this will also “accelerate the climate changes that destroy our other natural environments, our glaciers, grassland & coral reefs.” http://www.thecommonwealth.org/news/34580/34581/225538/280610forests.htm

9.   Chen Maoguo, a very brave man sat up in a Euclyptus tree in China for more than 3 months to protest the planned demolition of his home for the building of a shopping mall.  Mr Chen is being tried for disturbing public order. I hope he doesn’t get a gaol sentence. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/bird-man-faces-charges-in-china-for-sitting-in-a-tree/story-e6freuyi-1225885245007?from=public_rss

10.    A number of communities in the state of Massachusetts USA have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars of street trees that have died as a result of underground gas leaks in degrading pipes in the National Grid. http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/quincy/2010/06/gas_leaks_are_killing_trees_in.html

11.   The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission in the US has approved $35.7 million for 6 million acres of wetlands & bird refuges across the US &  Canada. http://www.humanitariannews.org/20100617/wetlands-migratory-birds-get-357-conservation-grant-government

12.   Pavlovsk experimental station Russia, one of the world’s oldest seed banks is soon to be demolished to make way for housing.  The seed bank holds more than 4000 varieties of fruits & berries from which most modern commercially grown varieties are derived. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627663.500-vital-fruit-and-berry-collection-set-for-destruction.html

13.   8 turbines are to be put under the bridges crossing the river Seine in Paris to raise energy from the rivers currents. There is already an underwater turbine under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. This article also mentions that Paris has a free bicycle scheme. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/28/paris-power-turbines-seine

14.   Chicago is going to do a census on its trees after doing one 17 years ago.  http://ht.ly/21Ht3

Watching the documentary Greatest Cities of the World on Tuesday night I learnt the finest honey in France is from a beehive on the roof of the Paris Opera House.  Not illegal, just using available good quality space.

lovely old tree in Dulwich Hill

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