Saturday 4th September 2004, Bat Walk
by Tim Kirwin
Gathering at the start of the evening
It always amazes me how much interest a night walk attracts especially when there is football on TV to be watched and beer to drink. It proved to be a very quite night for wildlife but I am pleased that so many people stayed until gone 10pm. The youngsters that attended were particularly enthusiastic and kept me on my toes with an array of difficult questions. There are definitely a few David Attenborough’s in the making there!
Whilst chatting at the beginning we all heard a Tawny Owl calling from the next wood. More than likely it hunts in Storeton and the surrounding area on a regular basis. The number of bats heard on the bat detector throughout the evening was low. Many of the regular walkers have seen bats in the area before but this particular evening was quiet. It continues to prove to me that you can’t predict or order wildlife when you want to. Having said that we did record three species of bat.
These were a Pipistrelle, although it flew past so fast I couldn’t ascertain which one it was, a Noctule bat which was flying over the surrounding fields and a Brandt’s/Whiskered bat (to separate these two species you need a computer programme and more sophisticated equipment than I own, any donations would be welcome!!!!!) The weather was dry with a cloudless sky. Whether or not this had something to do with the low bat count that evening is yet to be proved but it would definitely be related to low numbers of flying insects. Bats will hunt when and where the conditions are most suitable for them so maybe Storeton was not on the menu that evening.
Bat survey work has to be done on a number of days over different months to gain a true picture of a site. If anyone is keen to survey the wood for bats or any other wildlife species or has records of species they have already recorded please contact me on 01606 851641 and I will readily collate them. All information helps to build a picture of the habitats status.
I finished the evening talking about bats strange habits, their funny knees and why they can sleep and not fall off their roosts. I hope everyone went away enthused to learn some more, there is still a lot not known about bats and the more people involved the greater the understanding.
There are likely to be more opportunities to repeat night walks in the future and I hope to be invited back.
Woodland Trust Officer
Tim can be contacted at the woodland trust here.