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Monday, 7 October 2013

The Last Bat Group Survey of the Season

As the bat survey season winds down and planning surveys can no longer be undertaken, it gives us consultants a chance to put some time back by volunteering for bats.

At this time of year bats are preoccupied with mating and checking out hibernation sites ready for winter.

Last night I organised an autumn swarming survey (this is different to dawn swarming, in that it occurs over hours rather than 15/20minutes and goes late into the night).

A site we have had access to for several years now just outside of Luton already has one autumn swarming site confirmed, however we wanted to check another area that was a former Bothy (semi-underground, gardeners den (for want of a better description).

So last night (06/10/2013) 8 of the bat group keen to get in one last survey headed off to try some harp trapping and mist netting.

We walked down to the site and proceeded to set up just after dusk. Following the set-up we all settled down to wait.

Nets and the trap were checked regularly, but other than the odd Pipistrelle (common and soprano)call nothing was heard.

Some time later at approx. 21.00 the harp trap was checked, not expecting anything to be in the trap, a quick glance suddenly showed a bat. This turned out to be a male Daubentons bat, most probably a juvenile.

This was the first of several more bats caught, with a total of  six Natterer's again all male and last but not least a male Barbestelle

                                          Photo: - Barbestelle in the hand (Martin O'Connor)

This Barbestelle is a new species for the site and is the first to be caught this far south in the county, it could well be a cross border bat, given that Hertfordshire is only a stones throw from the site, but nevertheless it was caught in Bedfordshire.

All the bats caught were male and the site is now confirmed as the second autumn swarming site within the grounds of the estate.

This was my first opportunity to handle a Barbestelle, having only seen them 'up close' in hibernation or missed them on previous netting sessions due to having to leave early for work the following morning.

So in total nine bats were caught, six Natterers, one Daubenton, one brown long eared and one Barbestelle.

This goes down as the best night at this site and confirms the estate as probably the best bat site in the south of the county and by far in Luton.

                                          Photo: - Daubentons being weighed (Martin O'Connor)

Photo Bob Cornes
Photo:- Natterers bat with hair loss (Bob Cornes)

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