Why tens of thousands of fruit bats have taken over Tamworth

Tamworth is no stranger to hosting thousands of noisy guests, but the town’s youngest visitors cause quite a stink.

Thousands of fruit bats have been camping out at the home of the Tamworth Country Music Festival since May, enjoying the annual blooms of native gum trees and white boxes – a valuable food source for the endangered species.

A colony of grey-headed fruit bats can be seen above the Peel River in Tamworth.

A colony of grey-headed fruit bats can be seen above the Peel River in Tamworth.Recognition:Sam Muoy

It’s not uncommon for grey-headed fruit bats to flock to Tamworth for the eucalyptus blooms, but favorable local conditions, combined with widespread flooding washing away alternative food sources across NSW and Queensland, have made the regional center the ideal spot for a crazy bush scent.

The guest can be noisy — and smelly — in large numbers, said CSIRO fruit bat researcher Adam McKeown, but many have come a long way to enjoy the West’s prey.

“The grey-haired one [flying foxes] live all the way from Gladstone to Adelaide and they really act like one big population,” he said.

“Individual animals are moving from Queensland all the way down to NSW and back again – all the time.”

Thousands of bats soar through the skies over Tamworth.

Thousands of bats soar through the skies over Tamworth.Recognition:Sam Muoy

CSIRO records fruit bat populations every three months through its national surveillance program. McKeown last visited Camp Tamworth in May, where he counted about 85,000 bats.

“That’s a lot more than what you normally get in Tamworth,” he said. “However, you see these winter tributaries every few years, and that’s actually a little less than a few years ago when we saw up to 150,000 animals there.”

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/why-tens-of-thousands-of-flying-foxes-have-taken-over-tamworth-20220715-p5b1uo.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw Why tens of thousands of fruit bats have taken over Tamworth

Joel McCord

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