Bats in the spotlight

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Learn more about local bat populations at the Bats in our Neighbourhood event on Saturday, April 13.

As part of the Activities in the Park program, the free interactive event will be hosted by RiverConnect and Greater Shepparton City Council along with the Cussen Park Advisory Committee.

Attendees will learn more about the local grey-headed flying foxes who call the park home through a number of guest speakers including ecologist Rob Gration, Friend of Bats and Bushcare president Lawrence Pope and Shepparton Veterinary Clinic veterinarian Madeleine Rowe.

The speakers will be discussing bat behaviour, conserving their colonies and health and safety around the winged creatures.

New information signage and nesting boxes supported by the Fairley Leadership Program and funded by the Hugh Williamson Foundation will be unveiled on the night.

The microbat and possum signage were created by local schools and will be installed at Cussen Park and Lake Bartlett as a friendly reminder of the small creatures, which live in our region.

Fairley Leadership project co-ordinator Lisa Cowan said the project was a great opportunity for school students to engage with the parks.

‘‘The project has connected Sacred Heart Primary School to a fantastic local resource in Cussen Park, and Tatura Primary School to neighbouring Lake Bartlett,’’ Ms Cowan said.

‘‘Primary school students designed the content for the signs going in each park and Wanganui Park VCAL students built the nesting boxes with the support of the Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project volunteers.

‘‘Each school has been given a GoPro to encourage them to visit and check what’s living in the possum and microbat boxes after they’re installed.’’

The family friendly event will feature a number of activities including bat races and the chance to make badges, origami bats and masks.

Attendees will also have the chance to see the grey-headed flying foxes fly off to feed at dusk, while sharing a free pizza dinner.

RiverConnect’s project officer Meg Pethybridge encourages everyone in the local community to come along and be fascinated by these small creatures.

‘‘Grey-headed flying foxes are a hidden creature in the environment, they can come across as a bit scary for some people, however, they play an important part in the eco-system, which many people would not be aware of,’’ Ms Pethybridge said.

‘‘Cussen Park is home to a great colony of grey-headed flying foxes and it is important we respect their roosts and preserve the native habitats for these pollinators to remain in our region for years to come.’’

■Bats in Our Neighbourhood is on Saturday, April 13, at Cussen Park in Tatura from 5pm to 8pm. All activities start at the rotunda at the Ross St park entrance. Bookings must be made by phoning RiverConnect on 5832 9700 or email [email protected]