Exploring Night Skies: A Microbat Survey at Kalinga Park

On a mild Saturday evening 13th April 2024 Kalinga Park echoes excited chatter of twenty-one enthusiasts to be guided by Jutta Godwin to delve into mysteries of microbats.

However, our survey was not just about data collection; it was a journey of discovery and connection. As we paused to listen to symphony of night sounds and watched stars twinkle overhead, we felt a sense of kinship natural world around us. It was a reminder of importance of preserving these spaces not just for ourselves but for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

Despite two of three machines not cooperating, we did get to see sonograms for three different bats – many calls from Little Bent-wing Bat, and less certainly from an Eastern Freetail Bat and one of Broad-nosed Bats. There was a Tawny Frogmouth calling amongst other night denizens.

The cooler temperatures discouraged insects and thus bats, but many thanks to Jutta for a peek into this important order. As we bid farewell to park that night, we carried us a newfound appreciation for intricate web of life that surrounds us. Our journey into world of microbats had not only illuminated mysteries of night but had also illuminated our hearts a sense of awe and wonder.

The evening crowd sets off west along Kedron Brook under a slim moon; darker is better for bats.
The listening device leading way for our ‘pilgrims’!
Aha! There we have evidence; what we cannot hear is nevertheless happening.
Little Bent-wing Bat (photo by cotinga, CC-BY-NC 4.0 (Int)). Look carefully to see python hunting roost in background! Little bent-wing bats prefer well timbered areas where they feed primarily in shrub and canopy layers. Their diet consists primarily of beetles, moths, flies and even spiders.
A cosy huddle of Little Bent-wing bats (photo by Gemquick, CC-BY-NC 4.0 (Int)). The little bent-wing bat is smallest of all bent-wing bats. It has chocolate brown fur all over, that is lighter on its belly, and it has a short muzzle and domed head. These are cave dwelling bats but have been known to utilise abandoned mines, tunnels, stormwater drains and occasionally buildings.
The Eastern freetail bat has a rich brown fur on its back slightly paler belly fur. The skin on ears and face is a dark grey colour. They are shaggier, darker and have longer fur than their Inland freetail bat cousins, and they tend to prefer wetter climate of eastern seaboard. Colonies of several hundred have been recorded and they prefer to roost in tree hollows. Living along eastern seaboard means their habitat preferences lean towards rainforest, tall open forests, woodlands, riparian open forest and dry schlerophyll forests. They tend to fly in open spaces between trees as they hunt for bugs, flies, beetles, moths and spiders. Photo: Terry Reardon, taken under strict research controls.
The Eastern broad-nosed bat is limited to coastline East of Great Dividing Range individuals also been identified around Cairns. They are dark brown in colour a pug-like nose. They have been found in rainforest, tall wet forest, vine forest, low open forest and in timbered urban areas. They have been identified roosting up to 7 m off ground in hollows of manna gums. Little is known of their feeding habits. (Bat info thanks to “ About Bats of Southern QLD)
Young naturalists wonder at revelations of cunning machine!