Flying fox research and numbers

As part of a National Census, Council conducts a flying fox count of the Kooloonbung Creek Camp quarterly and additional counts are done throughout the year when camp numbers are noticeably changing.

 At our last count conducted in November 2022, there were over 14,400 Grey-headed flying fox occupying an area of just more than 2 hectares. The next count is scheduled for February 2023 and we anticipate an increase in numbers and occupied area at this time of year. For example, in March 2021, we measured the camp area to cover approximately 13.64 Hectares and estimate up to 100,000 flying-foxes were occupying the camp area, with at least 90,000 Little red flying fox mostly camping within the Mangroves around Kooloonbung Creek.

National Flying Fox Monitoring Viewer

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water have a National Flying Fox Monitoring Viewer which details the population counts of four flying fox species and the location of flying fox camps across Australia.  Although Grey-Headed Flying Fox numbers might swell locally certain times of the year, overall numbers across the state and nation are still low. This is why the species remains vulnerable to extinction.

Flying fox camp locations

Suitable flying fox habitat is potentially anywhere with vegetation and access to water. In Port Macquarie at Kooloonbung Creek, the Grey Headed and Black flying fox prefer to roost in Broadleaf paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia) and Swamp oak (Casuarina glauca) trees, whilst the Little Reds also prefer the Grey mangrove (Avicenna marina) and River mangrove (Aegiceras corniculatum) around Kooloonbung Creek.

Flying fox camps are usually found in cool areas where there is a closed canopy of at least five metres tall with understorey and mid storey layers, mostly near water and of a size of at least 1 hectare.  Investigations have identified alternative habitat exists throughout the local government area of 368,018.842 ha. Many areas are in close proximity to residents, within Conservation Estates, State Forests, Crown Lands, and private land. However, it’s important to note that flying foxes choose where they want to camp.

Flying fox camps can establish anywhere, due to the behavioural nature of the flying fox, and can occupy an area at short notice. For new development, buffers are already required under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 at 50m for proximity to important wetlands and the Development Control Plan 2013 requires vegetated buffers of 35-50m to threatened ecosystems. Appropriate land use planning is a work in progress and currently planning proposals must identify high environmental values and demonstrate avoidance to these values. We know a flying fox camp can establish anywhere that is vegetated, but they do prefer to be near permanent water.

Read more about flying fox breeding season and how it can affect numbers in our local colony camps.

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