To bat or not to bat, that’s been the question…

Broken bat box at the wildlife area

Broken bat box at the wildlife area

Last week Chris Vine from the Cambridge Bat Group came to Orchard Park to check if there were any bats, or signs of bats, in the boxes located along the back of the Wildlife Area. After checking boxes on the first 6 poles, sadly no signs of bats were recorded. Boxes on three poles to the far west side of the Wildlife Area, which were inaccessible due to vegetation, remain unchecked.

Clearly this pole has suffered damage so no bats would live there – two boxes are missing and the remaining one is damaged. We should be looking after our bat boxes as bats are a natural pest control and desirable species to have around. To encourage bats we can help by planting a Bat-Friendly Garden – from the Bat Conservation Trust website:

Brown long-eared bat in a hole (Hugh Clark)All our UK bats eat insects – a single bat can eat up to 3,000 insects in a night, so they need plenty of them! You can make your garden bat-friendly by doing things like:

  • Planting night-scented flowers, which attract insects
  • Creating a pond
  • Putting up a bat box for bats to roost in
  • Letting your garden go a bit wild – neatly pruned gardens aren’t as good for insects
  • Making sure you don’t use any chemicals or pesticides on your garden
  • Ask an adult to help you find out more about how to garden for bats – they can visit our ‘Encouraging Bats’ page for more information

Orchard Park Wildlife Project was planning an evening event for 29th June to have a talk on bats, and to do some monitoring of the boxes by filming them at dusk, as Pipistrelle bats – the most likely species to be there – are so small they can go in and out of the box without us seeing them. They are however detectable when watching a slowed down film.

Instead of a whole evening of batty things, we’ve decided to combine a bat event with moths and a mini bioblitz on 21st July. We can identify and examine some daytime species, then move onto night time critters including looking for bats with a more sophisticated detector than the one borrowed so far.

I remain hopeful that there are bats around Orchard Park as I’ve had a couple of independent reports, and Chris from the Cambridge Bat Group thought the Orchard Park Wildlife Area bat boxes are very likely to be in use at some point in time, so it is well worth monitoring them.

I will go over to the Wildlife Area at dusk (9pm) on 29th June with the borrowed detector and my camera for half an hour or so to check for any activity in the unchecked boxes – it won’t be a full on batty event, but if anyone would like to join me they’d be welcome.

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