Holy Swamp, Batman! – The Flying Foxes of Centennial Park

Take a look at the photos below. Each one of those dark (or dark and tan) hanging things is a flying fox. There are thousands of these creatures living in the trees that make up the Lachlan Swamp.

The swamp is a small but densely wooded area of Centennial Park. The park was built on swamp lands. Probably why there are so many lakes and ponds there. Although only covering a small area this carefully preserved micro-environment provides a natural habitat for these creatures of the night. And as the sun goes down they stretch their wings and head for the skies. Their silhouettes looking just like the Bat Signal in the Batman movies. Dani loves them.

Flying Foxes vs Bats

What’s the difference between a flying fox and a bat? I hear you ask.

Good question. Well, first off, flying foxes are bats. They are the largest member of the bat family sometimes referred to as mega-bats. The mega bat genus is known scientifically as Pteropus. The smaller bats that you see all over Europe for example, tend to eat insects. Whereas these flying foxes prefer to eat fruits and other plant supplements, though some also eat insects. They are also known widely called Fruit Bats.

Most of them are nocturnal. The common image of a bat is of a nocturnal animal that flies and hunts using echo location. This is true for the smaller insect feeding bats. However, the flying foxes have very keen eyesight which they use to navigate at night. Night vision no less! They also have an excellent sense of smell so that they can locate food. They are not able to echo-locate.

A closer view of these magnificent creatures
Stretching a wing

Apparently these animals are endangered. But you wouldn’t know it to look up at the tree-tops in this little swamp. One reason is that the females give birth to only one offspring each year. They are slowly becoming extinct. I can understand why some people don’t like them or are even afraid of them, but if they were to become extinct it would be a great shame. We think they are great

Lachlan Swamp

Lachlan Swamp was Sydney’s main source of water from 1837 to 1859. The whole city has spread out over the years but back in the early days when the colony of Sydney was being built this swamp would have been a fair distance from those who needed the water. It was transported to the colony through a tunnel. The swamp still has some of the original natural springs that fed the original wetland that is now the park.

Crazy Fact

I read this crazy fact about Lachlan Swamp: It was the site of the last known public duel in Australia between a Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Thomas L. Mitchell and an old Premier of NSW, Stuart Donaldson. Neither man was hit (apparently) but the flying foxes would have had a bat’s eye view…

 

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