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Monday, 4 June 2012

Bat Box Checking

As a prelude to the third day of the hunt for the Bechsteins, Bob and Lia headed off to our third wood, which we reckoned was our best bet yet. It was our last so we could get the hang of the technique.

Lia Gilmour shows the site for the harp trap Photo Bob Cornes

Photo Bob Cornes

Brown long eared bat - Photo by Bob Cornes
They combined looking for sites with partial check of the bat boxes there.There were no bats at home last month, so expectations were low. However the first box that was examined had 15 Brown long eareds in, and in all four of the 30 boxes we checked were occupied. This included 2 male and four female brown long eared bats in a 2F box, the first we have have found occupied. Most of the females were obviously pregnant.The one on the above is one of the males

Brown long eared bat Photo Lia Gilmour

Looking for Bechsteins – Day Two

We watched with trepidation as the weather forecast got gloomier and gloomier as the day went on. Bob and Lia went off to have a look at wood 2 and found a couple of good mist netting spots.

The Sherpas take a break. Photo Jude Hirstwood
At 8pm we gathered to take the gentle stroll into the wood – and once again were all too aware of just how much equipment we were lugging.

We set up base camp and while the harp traps were being put up there were numbers of soprano pipistrelles flying overhead. While waiting for the 11pm start time two of the groups walked round the paths with a bat detector. They met up with a group of lads who were camping in the wood. ( Later that night as we were collecting remote detectors they were met again – searching for their tent which they couldn’t find in the dark).
Photo Jude Hirstwood
Lia was keen for us to catch a Natterer’s and we were able to do so for her, which made her a very happy bunny as this picture shows.

Photo Bob Cornes

This was the first time we had ever visited this wood and we were delighted by the fact we caught four Daubenton’s, two in the mist nets and two in the harp trap. This included a very pregnant female who was quickly released and this gentleman who was heavier than the pregnant female was.

Photo Lia Gilmour
Daubenton’s have huge feet which they use to pick insects off the surface of the water. If you look closely you can see the hairs on the feet that help catch their prey.

Photo Lia Gilmour

Another useful diagnostic feature is the ring of bare skin around the eye.

We also caught a couple of soprano pipistrelles who pulled a trick beloved of pipistrelles – if in doubt play dead. We spent a considerable time coaxing them back into life but they did finally fly off just as we were ready to go home.

Sadly no Bechstein’s tonight, but we were delighted to find those Daubenton’s as we don’t often get them in woods and we think that there is a roost nearby . Bob and Lia saw some promising holes on the morning survey. This is a wood we shall be returning to. Who knows we might even catch a Bechstein’s. (without a harp trap or lure, but if you are going to dream, dream big)

Looking for Bechstein’s Day One

Lia Gilmour joined us yesterday with an impressive pile of equipment. She and Bob went out to look for suitable trapping sites in Kings Wood Houghton Conquest. The wood was looking particularly fine
Photo Bob Cornes

While we were there we found a beautiful Light Emperor moth

 As night fell, a small group of people staggered into the wood carrying equipment and set up harp traps , lures and mist nets, then settled down to wait
Photo Bob Cornes

Bill looks like he is bored to death here, but he is daydreaming about owning a Griffin one day.

Photo Bob Corrnes
Brown long eared bat Photo Bob Cornes

Lia took charge of the harp trap

This brown long eared bat was a gentle soul

Photo Bob Cornes Noctule
We also caught this male Noctule who looks very gentle but was a feisty gentleman who really didn’t approve of being caught and was very vocal in his complaints.
No Bechstein’s though – better luck next time.
On examining the recordings we made we can confirm the presence of barbastelle in this wood.