BatBlitz Western Sydney

Citizen science and researching micro bats in a threatened western Sydney riparian environment

BatBlitz Western Sydney

Citizen science and researching micro bats in a threatened western Sydney riparian environment

Taking Action -


The issue

Citizen science is the gateway to increasing public awareness, participation and stewardship of the natural landscape. Keystone species - the cute and fluffy, the charismatic and the threatened – can act as a valuable ‘posterchild’ to bring awareness to the plight of a threatened ecosystem.

GSLN recently purchased a member-loanable active bat detector together and needed a field workshop to demonstrate the use of this device to members before they can loan it out for their own site research. Western Sydney is chronically data-deficient in terms of monitoring studies and is home to a substantial amount of threatened species. Increasing awareness whilst improving monitoring is key to habitat protection, restoration, and species’ survival for the microbats.

The solution

GSLN engaged Dr. Leroy Gonsalves, a professional ecologist and forest researcher.  Dr. Gonsalves identified and led a small group (13) of GSLN volunteers – all active Bushcare and Landcare participants – in a survey around the threatened riparian ecosystem of South Creek, and the adjacent sports fields at Samuel Marsden Reserve, Orchard Hills. We employed industry-standard bat detecting equipment together with our purchase for citizen science (both by Titley Scientific, Queensland) to record and identify the abundance and diversity of bats within this last remaining portion of untouched Cumberland forest.

The impact

Volunteers left with the skills, knowledge and experience to design and conduct their own bat surveying, and the practical abilities to use of active bat detector. Volunteers also experienced a newfound enthusiasm, care for and awareness of microbats – with all keen to create and foster habitat (hollows, bark, nesting boxes) in their own Bushcare and Landcare sites. Dr. Gonsalves recorded six species of bat, including Australia’s only fishing bat species, together with two critically threatened species unique to Western Sydney – the Eastern Falsistrelle and Eastern Free-tail Bat. The data collected will be processed and analysed by Dr. Gonsalves; a vital contributing record to our knowledge of the Western Sydney ecosystem. 

Key facts

  • Event sold out within six days – with 30 follow-up inquiries. There are substantial demand and enthusiasm to hold more BatBlitz and citizen science events.
  • 13 attendees from the Blue Mountains, Inner West, Georges River all engaged in Bushcare, Landcare or professional bush regeneration.
  • Three bat detectors used – Annabat Active Bat Detector (GSLN), Annabat field-standard passive bat detector (Dr. Gonsalves) and a USB plug-in detector
  • Discussions surrounding bat habitat, conservation, lifespan, weight and abundance – our smallest microbat bat is only 4g, and can fit in a matchbox!