Flying-foxes move in to South Grafton
SOUTH Grafton has had new residents move in near Wharf St, with a large colony of bats establishing themselves in camphor laurel trees along the suburban street.
According to nearby residents, the colony has been growing over the past month and becoming more active.
Luci Fysh has lived in South Grafton for more than 40 years. She said she has never seen bats roost in trees so close to homes before.
"I've never seen them like this, you'd see them fly over when they come from Susan Island but I've never actually seen them at the back of my house," she said.
"It's just really weird to see all these bats appear from out of nowhere.
"They're so thick and right through the trees now."
Ms Fysh said in the past few weeks since she first noticed the bats, they've been growing in numbers.
"You'd see them fly over at night but then they'd be gone, but now they've settled in," she said.
"When they came from Susan Island they fly over and that's it. Now they're congregating."
With more bats arriving in the new colony by the day, Ms Fysh said the noise was growing considerably.
"You can hear them pretty early in the morning, the noise is bad, and there's so many of them swooping around," she said.
"I don't want to put the washing out, I don't really want to get close to them.
"You don't want to leave your washing out either because as they go over your house they poo and make a mess, it's just really weird."
Clarence Environment Centre's Patricia Edwards said with drought conditions continuing in the Clarence Valley, it was probable the bats had come from another colony and moved to be closer to a food source, to conserve their energy.
"They probably wouldn't be travelling far, they're so short on energy and food," she said.
"The drought has meant there has been a reduction in their food supply, there's very little flowering for them to eat, so a lot of bats are starving.
"We've seen babies dropped from colonies, and a lot of animals are suffering in these conditions."
Ms Edwards said there was potentially a close food supply for the bats, and rather than expend energy on returning to their original colony have set up a new home.
"We have noticed bats behaving oddly with these drought conditions and recent bushfire," she said.
According to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, flying foxes are nomadic mammals that travel across large areas of Australia feeding on native blossoms and fruits, spreading seeds and pollinating native plants.
"Researchers speculate that flying fox movements could be related to food scarcity, nectar flows or seasonal variations," a fact sheet on the animal says.
"Flying foxes are increasingly moving into urban areas in search of food and shelter, as a result of the loss of their natural habitat."