A Speckie Experience

by Dave Pinson

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My partner, Connie, and I arrived in Cairns in readiness to present a two day training workshop in Port Douglas. The lovely Annie Shoenberger picked us up from the airport, and we asked to run by the colony at Cairns library to see our first Spectacled Flying-Foxes.

We arrived at our anticipated destination and sure enough, a sea of spectacled faces were looking down from the huge fig trees surrounding the library.

Annie parked and we all got out and would you believe, the distressed chitter of an orphaned baby was right above our heads!

Looking up, a little pup was squeaking her lungs out, just 3 metres off the ground. With all the other bats 15-20 metres up, this little girl (down so low on a hot day) was in trouble.

With no rescue or rehab equipment to hand, Annie re-manoeuvred the car so she could climb up on the hood, and within seconds had pup in hand and handed to Connie.

Having never seen a live ‘speckie’ up close, Connie was now holding one; having not long got off the plane.

With pup duly down, and obviously quite dehydrated, the next problem was fluid. Sometimes, you just have to make do with what you have. What did we have? Well, my jumper (which was now the world's largest baby wrap), and a bottle of dragonfruit flavoured water.

As baby had latched on and was sucking my jumper, Connie slowly dribbed the dragonfruit water onto the bit baby was sucking. Little pup loved it and eagerly sucked life-giving fluid from the jumper while Connie kept pouring it on.

Two ladies walking past became fascinated as the ‘bat public education team’ swung into action; answered questions and let them take photos.

Aha… two more bat fans in Katter land.

On the way to Port Douglas, we picked up a syringe from a chemist, which was a little easier to use than the dribbling on jumper method! Connie kept hydrating baby in the back seat.

Connie had duly bat-napped the little speckie girl! But of course, she had to hand the little bat onto another carer when we flew south again.

It was rather nice to have her chittering in our unit as I typed and Connie prepared her evening milky drink.

The lLittle girl stabilised quickly, and will be fine.

We continue to laugh about our speckie experience and I quietly wonder if someone "planted" an orphan in the right tree at the right time!


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