Fruit bats and bowerbirds

September 24
Bowerbirding was fruitless today :-( Hunted and hunted, heard lots of green birds practicing in the tree tops, but one never can trust when you see them that an adult male and his bower is nearby! The good news is that this area is near the car park of one of our favorite surfing beaches so at least we got to get wet before going out on the hunt.

Later we dragged our weary selves into Woolgoolga to get a bit of a late breakfast, which went down very well. Then came some shopping at some thrift stores and I scored on buying a hula hoop for 50 cents! It is to be cut up and used as part of a particular bowerbird experiment. More on that in a subsequent post. Before leaving town, we went to see the fruit bat colony by the beach. Amazingly, 5000-10,000 big bats hang upside down from mostly dying trees in the sun. The bats kill the trees after a bunch of years, then move down the track. When its hot out there is a lot of flapping of wings while hanging upside down. It wasn’t hot today so they were mostly wrapped up in their wings like burritos. Once in a while a bat will turn around and hang by its arms so it can pee and in this fashion they don’t pee on themselves, but they may pee on another bat! I would not want to be a fruit bat. They are a very important species for they eat fruit and swallow seeds then fly around at night pooping out the seeds over the country side. Thus helping forest tree species disperse the next generation.

In camp, some kids wanted to see the bowerbird bower. Next thing I knew I had a captive audience of about eight, including several adults! So off we went into the bush to hear stories of bowerbirds and eventually but bower itself all decked out in its hundreds of blue decorations such as straws, clothes pegs, bottle tops, and the like.

After rounds of questions and picture taking I decided to take the kids on an adventure to the gigantic sand dune hidden in the scrub forest. One grandmother went on the trek and as we four wheel drove it up the steep slope on our hands and knees, we ended up pulling the grandmother up the final pitch with the aid of a long vine. Atop the dune the sight was magnificent for the sun was about to set and we had a complete view over the hinterlands including distant mountains. Yellow tailed black cockatoos were stretching in the distance and the sounds of the beach were not far away. Down the ocean side of the dune we went, plunging into a dense forest. Clear forest floor and mysterious! Finally we plunged down the final dune thicket to the beach and had a glorious return walk holding our smelly shoes and liberating our toes in the sand.

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