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The Fascinating Bats of Centennial Parklands Sydney

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by Lionel (subscribe)
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Published August 16th 2014
Centennial Parklands bats
Photo courtesy of Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust

Few locals and visitors may be aware that the Parklands located in the middle of Sydney city with 4.5 million people contains a large variety of wildlife in addition to birds. Especially at night, the grounds come alive with Australia's nocturnal native species including bats.

In fact, several species of Australian microbats and megabats actually call the trees of Centennial Parklands home. The insectivorous microbats measuring only 35 to 50 millimetres include the eastern little mastiff bat (Mormopterus norfolkensis) and Gould's wattled bat (Chalinolobus gouldii).

Goulds wattled bat. Photo by Michael Pennay
Goulds wattled bat by Michael Pennay / Photo from Ku-ring-gai Bat Conservation Society


The more familiar are the grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) and black flying-foxes, (Pteropus alecto), both fruit-eating megabats which use their good eyesight and keen sense of smell to locate food. Large numbers can often be spotted flying into the Parklands each night to feed on nectar, blossoms and fruits.

Grey-headed flying-fox male close-up view. Photo by Vivien Jones
Grey-headed flying-fox male close-up view by Vivien Jones / Photo from Ku-ring-gai Bat Conservation Society


Instead of fearing these large flying mammals, Centennial Parklands has taken upon itself to raise awareness of these harmless creatures and educate visitors with a series of tours. For starters, wildlife ecologist Tim Pearson has been educating the Parklands' rangers on the various bat species and leading tours. Tim is also the deputy chair of Ku-ring-gai Bat Conservation Society, which raises public awareness about the importance of flying-foxes and preserving their habitat.
Centennial Parklands bat detector
Photo courtesy of Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust

Centennial Parklands bats
Photo courtesy of Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust

The flying foxes with a wingspan of about 1.2 metres can be easily seen at night, and also in the daytime as they sleep, groom, and socialise in the trees.

The tiny microbats are much harder to spot simply because of their small size. While they are common in the Parklands, they often pass over unnoticed at night. The only way to find them is through the use of a 'bat detector' which picks up the echolocation calls of the bats as they hunt for flying insects in the dark.

The Centennial Parklands organise guided tours from time to time that allow the public to watch the bats and hear their chattering calls. For more information about the tour, visit the Parklands website or email: info@centennialparklands.com.au to inquire. So the next time you're in the Parklands, keep a eye or ear out for these fascinating native creatures of Australia.

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Why? The best park in the city to see and hear the bats of Sydney
Phone: (02) 9339 6699
Where: Centennial Park
Your Comment
Glad there's a positive article about the bats in Centennial Park. They have more right to be there than the humans who decide to interfere with nature and try to move them on. How does anyone get close enough to be bitten by a bat?? Climb up a tree after them? Leave them alone! I've had no trouble with the bats that sleep in the trees outside my bedroom. People move to certain suburbs because of the beautiful nature around them and then they decide some of it needs to move on-ridiculous!!!
by lin_b (score: 0|4) 1846 days ago
Bats are a pest & carry disease!
Children have died after being bitten by bats!!
by haidee (score: 0|2) 1886 days ago
Humans are a pest and carry disease-people have died from interaction with other humans- move THEM on lol!!!
by lin_b (score: 0|4) 1846 days ago
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