Monday, December 13, 2004

More signs of summer: Hamelin Battiness

In addition to being deafened by cicadas, there are other signs the silly season is upon us:
  • gum leaves in the gutters (given the number of introduced deciduous trees around, that means we get two sets of 'fall')
  • christmas beetles feasting off the new gum leaf shoots
more recently:
  • fruit bats feasting off the christmas beetles
  • fruit bat fights in the trees around our house
Over the last 10 years or so, there has been a colony of fruit bats (ie grey headed flying foxes) in the rainforest section of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. Starting as a quirky novelty, it grew and grew until there were ~10,000 bats roosting, wrecking, weeing, and worse.
The evening skies around Melbourne came to resemble something out of a gothic horror movie as the bats went about their nocturnal activities.
The garden authorities grew increasingly concerned as they watched their beloved plants and trees gradually break down under the sheer weight of numbers.
The general public (ie the newspapers) grew increasingly concerned when it was found that they carry a rabies-like lyssovirus just waiting to 'emerge' and take its place next to ebola. This gave the 'generally concerned' a good excuse to foam at the mouth. Never mind that Sydney siders have been enduring the 'foxes for decades without undue incident (as far as I'm aware the virus has only been transmitted to humans once; and that was via a horse)

Anyway, with one thing and another, it was decreed that the fruit bats would have to go.
After several attempts and outcries (don't shoot them!), a more suitable habitat was located further up the Yarra, at Banyule flats. I'm not sure how they were 'persuaded' to move to their new home, but they were (not without a few questions being raised about how an alternate colony setting up at Yarra Bend along the way: conspiracies are everwhere!)

This weekend, we had a picnic at the Botanical gardens with some friends and, surprise, no fruit bats!!
Little Missy would have been fascinated, but no matter, she found the eels just as much fun.


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