Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Little Red Flying Foxes

Little Red Flying Fox  (Photo by Narca)

South of Musgrave on the Cape York Peninsula is a chittering, rustling, squabbling, aromatic colony of 2.5 million Little Red Flying Foxes––reportedly the largest flying fox colony in Australia.

We find our way to the edge of the colony. The bats are very close overhead, their fur glowing red in the evening light. With wings stretched, they groom their pelage. Youngsters cling to their mothers (and are left behind when their mothers leave for the night to forage on nectar and pollen).

As dusk grows near, we return to open country and watch the bats in broad dispersal across the evening sky. These pollinators must service half of Cape York!

Little Red Flying Foxes (Photo by Narca)

Finally, as the vast star field of the southern sky stretches overhead––very brilliant in this isolated region––we drive towards our camp, and are surprised to see mobs of flying foxes drifting just above us through the forest, seeking flowering eucalypts. When they find a flowering tree, they cling to the branches to sip nectar. Outbreaks of chattering tell us where they are congregating.

I feel as if I'm underwater, looking up at a strange river, as the bats flow rustling overhead, through the treetops.

No comments:

Post a Comment