Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Nature at the Highrise

While we don't exactly live next to a wildlife corridor, we do live next to a bird corridor. Conveniently there is a wide road and a low building near the High Rise and they are in a direct line between the lake in the Botanic Gardens and Albert Park Lake and Port Phillip Bay, so the birds use this as their commuter path.

Just off the top of my head, we have seen gulls, ducks, cockatoos, galahs, Indian mynas, mudlarks, magpies, pelicans, swans and probably more. The latter two fly very high, so they are not really using the corridor.

What we are seeing a lot of lately are bats. Fruit bats, that is, or flying foxes. Melbourne used to be too cold and dry for the likes of the Grey Headed Flying Fox, but our city has become a humid heat sink with only a very rare frost, so the climate became more agreeable to the bats in the 1990s and instead of just visiting, they started to roost all year round. By 2003 there were 20,000 of them in our Royal Botanic Gardens and they were doing untold damage to the trees in the gardens. I remember when we used to see them flying around at night not long after we moved to the Highrise.

Enough, said the Botanic Gardens folk. With the banging of pots and pans and amplified music, they drove them up the Yarra River to Kew and Ivanhoe.

But guess what? The bats are back, from my external observations anyway. We see several every night fly past.

It is certainly not a sterile environment up here in the clouds. We get moths, flies, blow flies, butterflies but never mosquitoes. Then there was the 2003 ant invasion when they discovered my hair removal wax, but not seen a single one since. No mice or cockroaches or possums. A bird did land on the balcony once and hopped in the open door and then hopped out again. The only time we see spiders is when they come in through an open window at night and it is not often.

This little bug visited and hung around for a couple of days. I have never seen anything like it before and I have no idea what it might be. The closest thing I can think of is a christmas beetle. Click to see it bigger. It is quite pretty.


  1. Hello Andrew:
    Dare we venture to suggest that there is quite enough Wild Life at the High Rise without the wildlife of Nature adding to the party!!

    When we lived in the Herefordshire countryside bats had made a home in our roof. As they were protected, so they stayed and did not disturb us too much. They proved to be enormous fun for our cats, however, with all night parties a regular occurrence.......rather like the High Rise, perhaps?!!!!

  2. I have seen this little insect before, quite commonly in Canberra when I lived there. I remember Christmas Beetles as being round and pinkish and shiny and arriving around Christmas - again in Canberra. Perhaps and insect person may be of more use than me. Interesting how the climate is changing. I'm glad the bats are back, too.

  3. I'm not saying a word, Andrew.

  4. JayLa, we lead such a tame life now and prefer it that way. I am surprised the bats did not stain your ceilings.

    Christine, maybe the insect in new to southern Australia having previously being found in warmer climes.

    Victor, oh dear, what have I said now?

  5. Poor fella is probably hiding from those pesky fruit bats :-).

  6. japanese stink beetle. don't squash it without a mask on. they invade gardens en masse.

    bat flocks flew over me in Carlton at night last year.

    they make less mess/noise than trucks, hoons, and many other facts of city life.
    x x

  7. of course I was wrong: it is a
    Chauliognathus lugubris
    Plague Soldier Beetle
    "Beetles are among the most detrimental insects, damaging crops, timber and causing huge economic losses to industry.
    However, beetles are also valuable biological control agents of invasive weeds and cattle dung.
    Australia has many exotic, or introduced, beetles in both these categories, but native species can also become pests or used as biocontrol agents.

  8. I've always known these as Soldier Beetles. When I was a kid (and a little more innocent) I was always amused by the double-ended ones...

  9. Windsmoke, funnily I was thinking fruit bats go out at night and hunt for insects etc. Of course they don't. They are fruit bats.

    Em Stacks, well done. I kind of remember some think we called soldier beetles but they weren't like this. Charming name what.

    Smudgeon, you don't mean they were !!! Was it harlequin bugs that used to be joined too? Oh yes, I remember screaming at my father to please help the two dogs that had got stuck together.

  10. is it harlequin bugs that stink? Or these?

  11. I had no idea that ants liked hair removal wax.
    I quite like seeing bats swooping and swirling in the dusk. I haven't seen any here yet, but often saw them in Norwood/Maylands. most often in late spring/early summer when dusk is warm.

  12. Fen, not sure. I don't tend to squash bugs.

    River, I was surprised that the goo was so tasty to ants. They ought to be summer visitors to southern cities, but I expect Adelaide winters are warmer too now.

  13. Oooh, don't ever park your car under a fruit bat's home or flight path.

    I'm sure graham kennedy once said that as a kid he laughed when he saw dog trying to give another, much bigger dog a piggyback.

  14. He is rather pretty, isn't he?

    Up on the eighth floor we get a few pigeons (and they certainly leave their, ahem, mark behind) and absolutely no insect or bug life whatsoever.

    The dog shoves her nose through the gaps of the balcony rails and barks at the cats walking on the grass below. The concept of height compared to distance and scent is not one she understands.

  15. I'm not sure if we have bats here in Perth or not, I've never seen any. There were thousands of them in the Botanical Gardens in Sydney which creeped me out a little. Your sweet little beetle looks like he's wearing a 'tail coat'!

  16. FruitCake, I can visualise a car parked under a bat roosting tree. It ain't pretty. It was cow giving a bull a piggy back that had me asking more questions.

    Kath, can't bear pigeons. Maybe when the weather is warmer there will be some insects to bother you. Dogs in our building like to peer down and bark at horses passing by.

    Grace, I think you would have some sort of bats. Yes, it is a cute outfit.

  17. Lots of little birds and pigeons in my back yard but I do miss the honeyeaters, galahs, lorikeets - and the maggies...I try to put food out for them but I thnks its starlings and sparrows who are finding it...guess they are hungry too.

  18. MC, I am sure you are missing the bird life and other things. But not far from you are nice wetlands and reserves. Just not quite in your back yard. Try a seed bell for parrots.

  19. I can send you a few gekos, spiders, and more bugs if you feel left out up there. Bats are gross they hang upside down and piddle on them selves.

  20. Diane, I love gekos. Click click. I like to see bats in flight and I wouldn't be standing under them.