Micro-bats enjoy brand new air-bnb
IF THERE is anyone who feels inconvenienced by some of the works on the historic Briner Bridge, spare a thought for some of the tiny creatures underneath that will have to move house.
RMS Northern Region Environmental Manager Greg Collins has been working toward making the Briner Bridge's southern myotis micro-bat colony's transition to the temporary bridge as smooth as possible. The southern myotis or fishing bat was listed as a vulnerable and found along waterways where it feeds, using its disproportionately long feet that trail in the water as they fly, enabling them to grasp onto fish and at any moment.
There have been between 100 and 180 micro-bats underneath the Briner bridge at any one time and the RMS took a staged approach to moving them from their current residence under the old bridge to their new home under the new temporary bridge.
"We have put some new bat boxes in first and there are existing bat boxes which have been put up in the past, well in advance of any works.
"And just before we commence works on the bridge we move over all the bat boxes to the temporary bridge."
Through their work on other bridges such as the Sportsmans Creek and McFarlane bridge, RMS, along with specialist ecologists had gathered important information about how best to work with the animals.
"With Sportsmans Creek bridge we actually build habitat into the bridge, which meant holes in the concrete. And they are being used and taken up by the bats.
"With the Briner bridge we are going to the next generation where we will modify some of the steel elements to take in new bat boxes which will allow ease of movement if we have to work on it again.
RMS spent a lot of time on examining ways to better manage the population around maintenance but Mr Collins explained it had to be done within the framework of knowing what worked, and not risking the population by doing something too innovative.
"You always do your innovation on top of a suite of controls that you already have and that you know work. Like added extras." The way humans had altered the environment over the course of history has led to many micro-bats calling man-made structures their home and they were not just exclusive to wooden bridges.
"RMS is probably the manager of some of the biggest colonies in NSW, the culverts, the bridges and the arches we have are some of the best habitat we have for micro-bats of this type in the whole of the state."
"If we don't manage them they would be even more endangered as a lot of the big roosting trees with big hollows have been cleared from the landscape and now these structures are super important."