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Get batty in Hamilton’s Hammond Park

More homes for Hamilton’s local bats are soon to be installed at Hammond Park and the public are invited to watch the installation as part of a bat fun day hosted by Project Echo and the Riverlea Environment Society.

The bat fun day will be held on Saturday, 10 March from 10am to 12pm at the Malcolm Street end of Hammond Park. As well as seeing bat houses installed, there will be bat kite making, face painting, storytelling, information displays about the long-tailed bat (pekapeka) and a guided tour of Hammond Park. Families are encouraged to bring a picnic to the event.

Project Echo is a multi-agency collaboration to encourage the conservation of long-tailed bats in Hamilton’s urban areas, and monitor what is hoped will be a growth in their population.

Waikato Regional Council is partnering with Hamilton City Council in the project, with support from the Riverlea Environment Society, University of Waikato and Department of Conservation.

Waikato Regional Council’s biosecurity group manager John Simmons said: “The bat fun day is a great opportunity for families to visit an ecologically important park in the city while learning about our local species.

“The first two bat houses were installed in Hammond Park around 12 months ago and arborists will erect another three in trees to provide this threatened species with a safe haven.

“Destruction of habitat is one of the leading threats to the species and these artificial roosts might be one way to help long-tailed bats in areas where their native habitat has already been reduced,” Mr Simmons said.

Bat sightings can be reported by contacting Waikato Regional Council or completing a form available online at www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/projectecho.

The council is collecting information on where long-tailed bats are roosting which helps us to better protect the species and potentially grow the numbers in Hamilton.

Long-tailed bats live in small cavities in old or large trees and destruction of habitat is one of the biggest threats to the species. Landowners who suspect they might have bats present on their properties can borrow bat detection devices, which convert the sonar signal the bats send out into a sound audible to humans, from Waikato Regional Council before removing any large or dead trees.

While the numbers are uncertain, bats have been detected in Hammond Bush, Riverlea, as well as the Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton Cemetery and Sandford Park.

Weighing up to 14g and with a wing span of about 250mm, this country’s native land mammal is preyed upon by rats, cats, stoats and moreporks. Long-tailed bats feed on flying insects like moths, midges and mosquitoes.

The native bat project is associated with Hamilton Halo, another multi-agency effort that has successfully brought tui back into Hamilton through intensive pest control in the outlying bush areas where the native birds breed. Bird counts undertaken every two years since 2004 by Landcare Research show that tui numbers in Hamilton city are increasing. Tui have also been recorded nesting and fledging chicks in the city this year.

If postponed due to rain, the bat fun day will be held on Saturday, 17 March from 10am-12pm. Any postponement notice will be posted on Facebook at www.facebook.com/projectecho, and the Waikato Regional Council’s Project Echo webpage, www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/projectecho.

 

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