Wingham Brush, a significant maternity camp for threatened grey-headed flying foxes, has been so "full" of bats this breeding season that there has been no room for all the flying foxes calling Wingham home.
Flying foxes have taken up residence in areas surrounding the outside of the camp perimeter in the Wingham Brush Public School grounds, Chrissy Gollan Park, and along Dingo Creek.
"It's like a Hitchcock movie some mornings. It's like something out of The Birds," Wingham Brush Public School principal, Kylie Seaman said.
"My assistant principal said she'd been here 15 years and never seen anything like this."
It's like a Hitchcock movie some mornings. It's like something out of The BirdsKylie Seaman, principal Wingham Brush Public School
Ian Turner of National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in Taree estimates that the population of flying foxes, which in normal years is usually around 200,000 in breeding season (spring/summer), has risen by at least a quarter this season.
"There were numbers that we really haven't seen before. It has happened in the past, from what I'm led to believe," he said.
He attributes it to good rainfall and resulting blossoming.
"Look at the season we've had. It's been raining; it's been gorgeous. Maybe they've come here because we've got that pollen flow, it's been pretty good."
He also suspects the the camp population is so much larger than usual as a result of loss of habitat through bushfires further north.
Wingham Brush Public School have been impacted by the boom in population to the extent they have had to close of the eastern end of the playground, the sandpit and one end of the oval.
"We can keep the kids up one end but they're not at risk, the bats are not going to swoop them, but the activity and the amount of noise would just traumatise them," Ms Seaman said.
"This rain's a godsend that it's been so wet because they kids haven't even noticed they can't go to those areas to get in the sandpit or on the bottom oval. So really for them it hasn't affected them that much."
The influx of flying foxes this season is not unique to Wingham.
Meredith Ryan, president of wildlife rescue organisation FAWNA, has seen a rise in population numbers at camps at Kooloonbung Creek in Port Macquarie, a maternity camp not dissimilar to Wingham, and Brumbin, which usually only has a population of around 3000-4000.
"The Brumbin camp is about 10 fold on normal," Mrs Ryan said. "We've got a lot of little reds still here at the moment."
However, camps further south are not burgeoning as they are here. Mrs Ryan said the Native Animal Trust Fund, a wildlife rescue organisation for the Hunter region, doesn't have any flying foxes in because they are all up here.
"It's very fluid at the moment. In normal circumstances you would say that they're all moving north," Mrs Ryan said.
The boys are very, very randy.Meredith Ryan, FAWNA president
Unusually, there also seems to be a disruption to the mammals' breeding patterns.
"I heard the other day that other groups are getting [flying foxes] in that are only four weeks old, and they're usually born in October. And the boys are very, very randy. They've got a five month gestation and if they're normally born in late September/October, that's going to have a big affected next year, if the girls are in oestrus and it's not just the randy boys wanting to get their rocks off," Mrs Ryan said.
The NPWS quarterly census of the grey-headed flying fox population at Wingham Brush is to take in the next few weeks, however Ian Turner said the recent rainfall has been washing the flowing pollen away and some animals are starting to leave.
Kylie Seaman also said it seemed they were slowing starting to move back further into the Brush.
"So hopefully they'll keep to themselves and stay in their playground and we can stay in ours!" she said.
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