Thursday, May 2, 2013

Australia: Flying Foxes

Flying Fox
We love foxes, and we love bats.  When we realized that Cairns had a colony of flying fox bats, we sought them out.  It wasn’t hard—you can hear them from a few blocks away.  And while we thought they were pretty visibly obvious—you know, Chihuahua sized animals with yard/meter wingspans swooping over head—we were consistently amazed by how many people only glanced up at them after wondering what we were taking pictures of.  In one case, a woman who’d been walking along, perfectly safe, looked at David panning his zoom lens along with a bat, looked where he was pointing, and shrieked and cowered on the ground for nearly 5 minutes before scurrying off in a crouch like she was in a war zone.  Most people were delighted by their chance glance up, however.
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The bats were most active right before dusk, which made for some beautiful, but challenging lighting, as they fly fairly fast.
 Here's a little clip so you can see (and hear) what they look like as they take to the skies. In some cases when we've noticed them it's been during the day, when they're hanging from the trees and flapping their wings in the heat to cool themselves off. We saw them first in Sydney, where they've been evicted from the Botanical Gardens because they are too damaging to the trees. We saw them in Cairns, and again at the Singapore Zoo. I'm not sure everyone would agree with us on this, but we think they're super cute.