Ben Paris our resident 'bat man' is urging young campers in the Waitakere and Hunua Ranges to keep a lookout for native long-tailed bats during the Big Camp Out on 5 and 6 March, especially at Piggott’s Campground, a bat “hot spot”.
Auckland’s Council Biodiversity’s resident bat man, Ben Paris, says Piggott’s Campground in the heart of the Hunua Ranges Regional Park has had a lot of sightings, so is the most likely place to spot the tiny mammals in flight.
“Twilight is the best time to spot long-tailed bats – look for them in the sky just above the treeline,” he says.
Ben says bats are the only native mammals to have been in New Zealand since before humans arrived and they play a special role in our ecosystem.
“Bats are quite useful for us in the summer as an aerial insectivore, gobbling up moths, mosquitoes and midges,” he says.
“Habitat loss and pests are affecting their numbers so finding where the long-tailed bats live is important. We want campers in our regional parks to be on the lookout for our native bats this summer, especially during the Big Camp Out, when there will be more people out camping and participating in ranger-guided bush walks.”
Ben says bats need open spaces, near mature trees with hollows or loose bark, and waterways like rivers and streams. Local parks, golf courses and school grounds can also be likely bat habitats.
If you spot a long-tailed bat, you can post your finding on the Auckland Biodiversity Facebook page or call 09 301 0101 to report a bat sighting.
Keen bat spotters can contact Auckland Council to borrow a bat detector, which detects the small mammals electronically.
The Big Camp Out
Auckland’s Regional Parks are hosting an awesome summer camp out to celebrate 50 years of regional parks. Eighteen campgrounds are ready for a weekend of fun on 5 and 6 March 2016.
There will be lots on offer, including the chance to learn mountain biking skills at Upper Mangatawhiri Campground in the Hunua Ranges or join Tanya Batt to weave some story telling park magic at Poukaraka Flats Campground in Whakanewha Regional Park. There will be walks, talks and even some picnics.
For those who just want to enjoy the stunning natural beauty, there are some quieter campgrounds too.
The Big Camp Out is a chance to bring family and friends together to enjoy a weekend of camping.
Bookings are essential on 09 366 2000 (option 2), as some campgrounds are already fully booked for the Big Camp Out weekend.