AROUND 14,000 grey-headed flying foxes are still roosting in Glebe Park Lagoon as volunteers look to next week’s last significant count for the season.
Nineteen people took part in the most recent counting activity in late February, with flying foxes beginning to take off on their night-time foraging a little after 8pm.
The February total of 14,018 – with a “reasonable accuracy” of between 12,825 and 16,625 – was lower than expected based on the January figures, as well as last February’s 30,000.
Event organiser Hugh Pitty said a slightly higher number recorded in Pambula as well as environmental conditions may have contributed to the discrepancy.
“It is relevant to recall at the beginning of the season, the camp formed two weeks earlier than last year, possibly indicating an earlier flowering of target food species,” he said.
“Most significantly, it is apparent the camp is significantly smaller than last year, where the numbers reached 30,000.
“Suspected factors affecting populations include the incidence of extreme heatwave conditions in eastern Australia during summer.”
Mr Pitty said volunteer spotters on the night also noticed a variation in which direction those bats counted were heading as well.
“Perhaps due to flowering bloodwoods in Bournda, the numbers leaving to the south-east have continued to increase significantly, primarily at the expense of those leaving to the south-west.
“Those leaving to the north continue to be a sizeable proportion of the camp.”
The next count will be held on March 21 with anyone interested in taking part invited to gather at the shelter on the south side of Glebe Lagoon at 7.15pm.