Oxhill News

www.oxhill.com / www.oxhill.org.uk

South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

October 2009

This months News



Bat Walk

Thank you to everyone who came to our Bat Walk – it was a great turnout with over 25 people attending, and I apologise to others who phoned and I was unable to fit you in.  What a response from such a small village.

Neil Beamsley, the ecologist and bat expert, gave us a short illustrated talk and then we set off with the bat detector.  We headed for the southern section of the village, mainly round the church and surrounding gardens.  A big thank you to all those of you who let us trudge through your gardens, especially Phil and Heather Brennan.  I have to say it was very exciting when the bat detector picked up the high pitch bat clicking noises (most adults can’t hear them) and transforming them into audible sounds.  Once you hear the sound, you then know where the bat is, which usually enables you to see them as well.  Every bat ‘clicks’ at a different frequency so you can identify them by the call.  There are 17 species of bat in England and many can be found in the Stour valley area.  We were quite lucky in our hour and a half walk to find five species.  First was the common pipistrelle, so tiny it would easily fit into a match box.  Despite this it can still eat about 3,000 midges in a night.  We also found the soprano pipistrelle (recently identified as a separate species by a higher call note and different face markings).  We saw a long-eared bat and found its ‘feeding post’.  This is located by a pile of moth wings on the ground; interestingly they are predominantly the yellow underwing moth – obviously its meal of choice.  Spotted flying high above the trees was a noctule bat.  This is one of the largest bats and often flies among swifts and martins after insects.  On the continent they regularly migrate hundreds of miles.  The bat detector picked up the call, although we didn’t see it, of the daubenton’s bat.  It skims low over ponds or lakes at night using shallow, fluttering wing beats that enable it to get very close to the water.  With its large feet, it can occasionally even catch small fish.  I have often seen this species flying low over our garden pond, but not catching fish!

We also located a pipistrelle roost inside the church porch (along with a nest of swallows).  A strange fact; bats don’t roost in belfreys – too many cobwebs and noise from the bells. Bats hibernate during the winter, slowing their breathing and heart rate and dropping their body temperature to match their surroundings.  Typical hibernation spots include caves, tunnels and lofts, but some bats are partial to wall cavities.  Their hibernation and ‘maternity colonies’ are not always the same place as their summer roosts.

In the UK all bat hibernation spots and roosts are protected by law and must not be disturbed without consultation with the necessary authorities.  We can all do our bit to help these fascinating animals by creating suitable habitat and installing bat boxes.  OWLS will be able to help you do this in the very near future.

Grenville Moore

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Last modified: October 05, 2009