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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Bat box Checks

It was with a sinking heart that brave bat group members headed out to check the 53 bat boxes on a hot and humid Saturday. Carrying ladders and other kit through the wood was really hard work.

By the end of the search , two boxes each had a single bat in.

Find of the day was the last box checked before lunch which contained 29 bats – 13 mothers , 13 juveniles and three male bats. – and a lot of mites which were present in large numbers, particularly on the juveniles.

It is probably best to draw a veil over the behaviour of the very hungry bitey insects, but our intrepid surveyors have impressive scars

We weren’t able to get a photo of them in situ, but the picture below shows a rather cheery individual who consented to have its picture taken.
Photo Bob Cornes Brown long eared bat
This brings the number of bats boxes to show bat signs in 32 boxes since we started checking the boxes last September

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Bat Group on Three Counties Radio

Bob and Bat at Three Counties radio. Photo by Three Counties Radio

Yesterday saw Bob on Three Counties radio talking to Nick Coffer. He stopped off on the way to pick up the captive bat but wasn’t aware the bat’s caretaker was in the shower and couldn't hear him knocking on the door.

Martin on the way back from a meeting heard this and rushed home, picked up the bat and headed down to Three Counties to deliver it.

This made for quite exciting radio as Nick Coffer announced, in a slightly nervous voice “We have just had a bat delivered to the studio” He said he was a bit nervous of bats, but admitted that our captive bat was rather nice.

He was somewhat taken back by Bob’s T shirt , which he had bought at the Jeremy Deller exhibition , but Bob was at pains to explain that bats in Britain are gentle creatures.Nic seemed genuinely interested in what Bob to say.

Thanks to Three Counties for inviting us

Tagged Natterers update

Bob and Phil spent half a day with a radio transmitter scouring Flitwick Moor and environs in the hunt for the Natterer’s bat tagged the night before.

They located the signal on farmland near the Moor. With the permission of the land owner Bob and Gwen returned last night to see if they could locate the bat.

We were very puzzled as the signal seemed to be coming from a scrappy hedge – not at all the place you would think a Natterer’s would roost. And, alas, you would have been right.

We located the tag, but not the bat, in the middle of a harvested corn field. The bat had obviously succeeded in shrugging off the tag.

(We think in hindsight that the glue we used was ineffective)

We were sad that this happened , but relieved to have reclaimed he tag which has been unsoldered and can now be used if we manage to tag another bat. (Tags cost upwards of £60)

Natterers Bat radio tagged at Flitwick Moor

Flitwick Moor Photo Jude Hirstwood

Flitwick Moor is one of the most atmospheric sites in Bedfordshire. Walk across the central drain and it is like going back into primeval forest. I would never be surprised if a gigantic dragonfly flew past or a pterodactyl dive bombed from the sky.

The water is iron rich and brick coloured. Many of the trees have their roots immersed in water. I’ve never seen anything like it in this country. Strangely as night falls it becomes an altogether more benevolent place.

Flitwick Moor is a Wildlife Trust site and we have done surveys there before with them. One of our ambitions was to locate the Natterer’s roost which we think is in the wood.

A few years back we caught three Natterer’s in quick succession early in the evening. When we returned, the bats got wind of this and made sure they never came near the net.

We tried again last night and this time we were successful.
A radio tagged Natterer’s bat. Photo Henry Stanier. Wildlife Trust

Last night I am pleased to report was different. A number of nets were set up and those present waited patiently. In the end we only caught one bat – but it was a female Natterer’s which we were able to radiotag .( NB Mistnetting and Radiotagging can only be done with some one who has an appropriate licence for Natural England)

Had it been a male we would not have tagged it as the males are solitary and what we are looking for is the roost