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Well known Macleay Island resident, Mike King knows a fair bit about Flying Foxes.

Mike is recognised as one of the popular ‘dekkies’ on our island passenger ferries.

He brought to our attention the colony of Flying Foxes on Macleay and the recent changes in their island habits.

That’s because he now has about 4000 of them as permanent neighbours along Francis Road.

The colony has settled on the council reserve in Gordon Road; the adjoining privately owned bush blocks in Francis Road; and Casurina Forest on the Eastern side of Gregory Street.

They turned up immediately following the dangerous 2016 bushfires on the islands, mostly in the Tim Shea wetland areas (their previous residence).

They have taken up their new position with nearby residents, including Mike, getting used to their noisy hanging-upsidedown-neighbours.

According to Mike, the colony is a mixture of grey headed and black Flying Foxes with the grey’s having a distinct collar of orange/brown hair.

“The colony is periodically joined by groups of migatory little brown Flying Foxes and there can often be up to 20,000 of them in the reserve.

“They hang in clusters, often hanging off each other,” Mike told the Friendly Bay Islander.

Islanders should be reminded that Flying Foxes are a protected species.

The ABC’s Peter Cundall once described them as ‘the flying gardeners performing a priceless environmental service”.

They are both intelligent and remarkable.

They help to regenerate our forests and keep ecosystems healthy through pollination and seed dispersal; playing a similar role to bees helping to drive biodiversity.

Commonly known as fruit bats, their diet is predominately nectar, pollen and fruit. They use sight for direction; see well at night; and a very smart.

It is known that Flying Foxes have habited Australia well before humankind and are depicted in many aboriginal rock art and cave sites.

Since European settlement, their habitat has suffered due to land clearing.

All this aside, there is no doubt that living next door to a colony of Flying Foxes can be a challenge.

They are noisy and smell, and there could be some Francis Road residents hoping they will eventually return to their former wetlands habitat on Macleay Island and help regenerate the area that was fire ravaged.

But residents will have to put up with their Flying Fox neighbours, because they were here first, so there!

• The Flying Fox colony in Francis Road.

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