Cockatoo and flying fox paradise

When I’m in a big city, sometimes I get overwhelmed by the city’s skyscrapers, activity and routine. When those moments come, I need an escape. For me, my escape is the beauty of nature, and city gardens are usually do it for me. In Sydney, that place is the city’s botanical garden. Beyond the obvious beauty of any botanical garden in the world, these are some special reasons why I love this place:

It’s a cockatoo paradise

The first time I heard from Sydneysiders that cockatoos fly free in the suburbs around Sydney, I was astonished. I was invited to a BBQ party (or barbie, Aussies call it) somewhere about an hour away from the downtown, and sure enough, I saw cockatoos flying around free! They are charming white cockatoos with a yellow crest and a very loud screech.

I didn’t expect to see cockatoos like that in the middle of downtown Sydney, but I was wrong! I was walking around a park near a harbour one day, admiring some trees around me, when I saw a cockatoo flying above me. So I followed this little screechy beauty, and it led me to the city’s botanical garden.

There must be hundreds of white cockatoos with yellow crests living in this garden. I spent so much time observing their funny behaviour. They love biting tree bark. Love it so much that sometimes they will do that hanging from a tree branch almost upside down! This botanical garden is huge, and when I’m in there, usually I don’t know where I am going, because I’m running here and there following the crowd of cockatoos. At one point, all the cockatoos flew to a single point: a man with a bag of bread crumbs. I sat on the grass near that, stole a little piece of bread from between cockatoos’ feet, and lured them to me, and it worked! Many jumped to my lap, my arms, shoulders, and even my head! Have you seen the movie The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock? It reminded me of that, except that it was a flock of white cockatoos with silly yellow combs, instead of creepy birds. Cockatoos will definitely be one of the things that I remember the most about Sydney!

It’s a flying fox paradise

Even though the people in charge with the garden don’t want the flying foxes to be there because they are destroying many trees in the garden, these thousands of flying foxes love this place. I love them to be there too because they make quite a sight, although I might change my opinion if I were in charge of keeping the trees healthy. During the sunlight, these bats are cozily hanging down, resting in the trees, wings wrapped tight around their bodies. Most of them look like they’re in a deep sleep, even though you can see them stirring here and there, and some of them even playing a bit with the neighbouring bats.


Fruit bats hanging down from the tree

What’s hanging down from the branches? Fruits or fruit bats?

These sleeping flying foxes hanging in the trees with orange coloured fur make a beautiful sight that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Well, I had seen bat caves before, with hundreds or thousands of bats hanging in cave mouth. But I haven’t seen a huge crowd hanging from the trees like this, not mentioning it’s downtown Sydney!


Bats flying over Sydney

Bats flying over Sydney

At dusk, once the sun has set, lay down on the grass somewhere west of the bats’ hostel (I mean, the trees where they were sleeping), and this will make another great scene: hundreds of bats flying west chasing the setting sun! It was serene yet ominous… seeing the silhouette of them slowly flapping their wings above you without sound under the almost-dark sky. Just be sure though, to run to the gate of the garden before it closes because it will be locked just a half an hour after the sun has set.

The trees

I’m not sure why some trees interest me so much, but they do! Trees and animals fill my camera’s memory card so quickly. There are a lot of interesting trees and shrubs of various sizes and ages in this garden, but there’s this one tree that particularly intrigued me. The weirdest looking tree I’ve ever seen!

Is the tree left of the pathway actually a standing tree by itself?

Is the tree left of the pathway actually a standing tree by itself?

Look carefully at the tree left of the pathway. Notice anything interesting? Not yet? Trace that tree’s branch on the right…. keep tracing…. it’s becoming another tree!! Or rather, many tree columns, that actually is just one connecting tree! This tree, that is called Ficus macrophylla columnaris, has the ability to grow straight down forming the aerial roots, that look like the trunks. Finding the main tree is not easy. Even with me walking around it,  I can’t pin point to which trunk is the main tree. However apparently it doesn’t have to own its own main trunk! This tree could start grow on other (host) tree branch, and eventually strangle the host to its death, while this columnaris tree itself is thriving with its many column roots.

The sunset over the Opera House

Who doesn’t like sunset? We have tried to capture many stunning sunsets around the world with our camera, and these ones from the botanical garden add to our collection.

These are why I love Sydney Botanical Garden. What about you? Do you like botanical gardens or city parks? What about cockatoos and other birds? Or weird trees? What kind of feeling do they give you? Share what you think here!

Update: Just in case you don’t like the idea of seeing flying foxes aka. bats, don’t worry. Most part of the park doesn’t have the bats sleeping trees, they are concentrated in a small area. :)

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12 Responses to “Cockatoo and flying fox paradise”

  1. Sabina
    29 April 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    I would love all the cockatoos! Those are great photos of you with them. The bats would freak me out, though. I might think they could fall out of the trees while they’re sleeping and land on me.

    • Dina
      29 April 2010 at 9:11 pm #

      Hi Sabina, thanks for visiting our site :)

      Some friends comment the same with you about the bats. So I start thinking maybe I’m a weird one? hahaha… they looked orange and cuddly to me because they are in hugging position when they are sleeping. Don’t worry though, the bats sleeping trees are concentrated in a rather small area. The biggest stretch of the park is not batty.

  2. Earl
    30 April 2010 at 12:00 am #

    My favorite botanical garden in the world is the one in Melbourne, which I visit as often as possible whenever I’m in that city. I don’t remember seeing many cockatoos but I do recall thousands of flying foxes. Actually, when I was living in Melbourne last year, every now and then I would go out to the small park behind my house just before sunset. As soon as the sun hit the horizon, hundreds of flying foxes would suddenly take off from a tree at one end of the park and then land in a tree at the other end of the park. It was amazing to watch all of them fill the sky, flying so low. Apparently, they made the return trip just around sunrise each day but I never woke up that early to see it!
    .-= Earl´s last blog ..Don’t Be Afraid To Kill Your ‘Babies’ =-.

    • Dina
      2 May 2010 at 10:18 am #

      Haha, it’s not likely for me either to catch the scene of returning flying foxes at sunrise, I’m a super late person! (It’s probably easier for me to stay awake until sunrise, than try to wake up for sunrise)
      But yeah, it’s amazing isn’t it, seeing a huge group of them flying low, I love how we can clearly see the shape of them as the wings spread fully, like in Batman symbol.
      I’ll put botanical garden of Melbourne in my Melbourne must see list! How do you compare it with the Sydney one?

      • Earl
        2 May 2010 at 12:45 pm #

        I actually prefer the Melbourne one as you could easily spend an entire day wandering around. It has a beautiful lake, rain forest, open fields, dozens of quiet paths and on and on…and you will not hear a single sound from the outside world!
        .-= Earl´s last blog ..Don’t Be Afraid To Kill Your ‘Babies’ =-.

        • Dina
          2 May 2010 at 11:50 pm #

          Sounds like the Melbourne one is much larger than the Sydney one. Lake and rain forest inside the botanical garden? Wow!

  3. Melvin
    5 May 2010 at 11:28 am #

    I remember all the trees full of cockatoos when we traveled through Down Under. They were soooo loud & often they woke us up when we slept in the tent!
    Nice article & pics & thanks for the link!
    .-= Melvin´s last blog ..Plitvice Lakes – Paradise On Earth =-.

    • Dina
      5 May 2010 at 12:41 pm #

      They are very loud indeed :D Seems like in your tent trip you didn’t need to bring an alarm clock!

  4. Brooke, WhyGo Australia
    19 May 2010 at 6:53 am #

    Great photos of the cockatoos :) They very pretty, but just so damn loud! They come and sit in the trees outside my window every day.
    .-= Brooke, WhyGo Australia´s last blog ..June in Australia =-.

    • Dina
      19 May 2010 at 9:55 am #

      Wow! You are lucky for the sight! And so right that they are damn loud :D

  5. Slava
    21 September 2010 at 8:07 am #

    Beautiful images, but could really use increased saturation – the colors are bleak. Thanks for sharing!
    Slava´s last post…Reasons to visit Plitvice Lakes

  6. Sabina
    1 June 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Haha – it’s funny to read my original comment which I made over one year ago, about thinking the bats would freak me out. Now that I’ve experienced them flying all around me I know that it is a good kind of freakout :)

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