Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

September 6, 2009

Flying Foxes Photography 090906

Filed under: Wildlife — Tags: , — admin @ 5:25 am

Grey-headed Flying-fox, Blackbutt Reserve, Newcastle, 6th Septemeber 2009.

Three different species of flying foxes use Blackbutt Reserve as a home:- The Grey-headed Flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), black flying-fox (Pteropus alecto) and the little red flying-foxes (Pteropus scapulatus). The numbers of these flying foxes varies from twenty to forty thousand. The Grey-headed Flying-fox eats nectar and fruit and they sleep during the day light hours in large colonies in the trees at Blackbutt Reserve. They are listed at the moment as a “Threatened” species at state and federal levels.

Grey-headed Flying-fox

The Grey-headed Flying-fox is one of the largest bats in the world and performs an important pollination and seed dispersal role in the eco-system. They have a major role in the dispersal of seed for many commercially significant hardwood and rainforest tree species.

Grey-headed Flying-fox

Females do not reach full reproductive maturity until they are three years old. Mating happens in early autumn, when large groups break up, then reform later in late spring or early summer. Their life span is believed to be between fifteen and twenty years.

Grey-headed Flying-fox

I received a very nice email from Nick Edards. He has taken some fabulous shots of flying-foxes. Here is what he said.

“Hi Steve, excellent flying fox photos, it’s good to see some more of the furry flappers on the net. Have you ever been into a colony during maternity season? There’s some spectacular shots to be had then, especially if you like the challenge of trying to photograph them in flight when the light is rubbish and your camera is wondering why you’re trying to lock on to something it can barely see !

Here’s a few of mine from last year (mostly from Sydney RBG, Parramatta and Belligen colonies).

Nick Edard’s Flying-fox photos – click here

It’s hard to be certain but the bat featured in the third photo on your blog looks pretty heavily pregnant. Many pregnant greys are well into their third trimester at the moment. Birthing will start late October/early November and most births will occur within a six week period.

All the best, Nick”


Hi Steve
Flying foxes are pretty poorly understood so you’re not alone. As you can see from my photos, they are an annual obsession 🙂 Bats are generally pretty sleek so if it’s a female (the genitals on a male are usually pretty hard to miss!) and they look fat in the midsection (the pup is carried transversely across the body), then there’s a good chance that she’s pregnant.

Click here for Pregnant Flying-fox photos by Nick

The topography of many ff colonies makes flight photos hard. I’m lucky being so close to Sydney RBG colony, it’s probably one of the easiest in that regards. If you’re down in Sydney during summer, it’s worth trying to get in to the Gardens around sunset. Even if you don’t get to photograph them, the spectacle of the flyout is very impressive.

The dipping photos are some of my favourites but they are horribly tight crops because the bats were skimming a way down the river. But at least they’re clear enough to see the concentration on their faces. The speed with which they skim is very impressive and it’s amazing that more of them don’t end up in the water. I’m going to have a wander around your site this evening, you’ve got some lovely shots on your pages.

I’ve been to Bellingen and it’s a beautiful colony. The light is spectacular and the flyout up the river is brilliant. I’ve not been to Wingham but I here that it can be home to a lot of bats sometimes. Around Sydney we have RBG, Parramatta, Cabramatta, Gordon, Kurnall, Clyde & Avalon camps plus inevitably a few deep in the National Parks that no one knows about. RBG and to a lesser extent Parramatta are easily the most accessible.

All the best, Nick

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