Central Australian Bats with Dennis Matthews

Gould’s Wattled Bat Chalinolobus gouldii. The prettiest of the bunch, and about the most widespread species in Australia.

Bats are one type of wildlife which we don’t often get to have a close look at here in Alice Springs. They’re certainly about and are actually quite common. This was conclusively shown by a recent workshop that we were able to hold at the Land for Wildlife offices. Renowned bat expert Dennis Matthews was in town and had just enough time to run an information session for members and interested locals.

Dennis Matthews explains the ingenious harp trap. The aluminium frame supports taut vertical filaments. The bats fly into these filaments and slide down to roost in the layers of canvas beneath.

After a very educational presentation indoors, Dennis led us into the garden to demonstrate some survey techniques. We had a look at some ANABAT recording devices in action and then a couple of harp traps were set up and left overnight to see what species we have fluttering around our office at night.

Lesser Long-eared Bat Nyctophilus geoffroyi.

In the morning we were rewarded with 9 bats from 4 different species. On the recorders the previous night we had identified a further two species in the area that we didn’t manage to catch in the traps.

Inland Freetail Bat Mormopterus planiceps.

We mainly get insectivorous microbats here, with only occasional visits from the Little Red Flying Fox following particularly wet seasons in The Centre. Microbats mostly call well above the range of human hearing and can be difficult to track in a torch beam due to their fast flight and small size. So it was a genuine treat to get up so close and have a good look. Thanks Dennis!