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The Ballet Of The Bats

The Ballet of the Bats

Watching bats at dusk, gracefully swooping amongst the trees in arcs and circles at astonishing speed in search of their prey, I’m always charmed and amazed by them.

Bats live in the countryside, towns and cities across the UK. They are most active in the summer months when they come out of hibernation, hunt insects, give birth and raise their young. You are more likely to see bats around sunset or sunrise in warm, dry weather. Some bats fly high in the sky while others fly low over water, some prefer grassland while others stick close to hedges and trees.

So many people are scared of bats – but there’s really no need, certainly here in the UK.

They are fascinating little creatures and to help you get to know and love them better The Parks Trust regularly lead bat walks. This week, as part of the International Bat Night Celebration, you can join their bat enthusiast for an adult only evening walk and learn about these amazing creatures. (See details below – booking essential).

Bat walks are a perfect way of giving people the opportunity to see and hear bats in a natural setting, and that first experience has led many to a lifelong interest in bats.

For example …. do you ever get annoyed about the number of midges biting you when you’re out in the countryside? A single Pipistrelle bat – so tiny it can fit into a matchbox – can eat 3000 midges a night! Anything that can munch their way through that many midges will be a friend of mine!

If you can’t get to the Parks Trust Walk, here are some tips for doing your own bat walk.

The clothing you need depends on where you are going to be. If you are out on muddy, uneven paths wear walking boots or wellies and on evenings when it may rain bring waterproofs.

Take torches for when it gets dark and if you have a bat detector it’s fantastic for listening to the bats. If you don’t have your own bat detector then get in touch with your local bat group and see if you can borrow one.

The best nights to see bats are dry nights, although they do come out when it’s wet it’s normally a better experience if you are dry!

The typical bat species found around built up area are Pipistrelle bats, which can be out around half an hour before sunset. Most bats come out in large numbers at sunset. The best time of year is between May and September when they are most active.

Certain features can normally guarantee more bats. In towns look for areas of vegetation (such as tree lines or parks), especially those with associated water courses (river and canals are great for spotting bats). Older buildings often have bat roosts, but equally many newer buildings can have bat roosts too. In the countryside go for a walk along woodland edges or along woodland paths where there are open areas. Again, along rivers or canals are also good places to spot bats. Anywhere there is a large number of insects flying around you are likely to get lots of bats!

Dusk is the best time to see bats flying against the pale sky, so you will need to look up at the sky in gaps between trees. Shine your torch across water courses, particularly those areas that are smooth (not bumpy/rapid water) and look for bats flying through the beam of light. On water courses it is more likely that you will have Daubenton’s bats flying close to the water and catching insects. Daubenton’s are a bit bigger than Pipistrelle bats and you can read more about these and other UK bat species you might find here.

With a bat detector you will need to get the right frequency for each bat species. For Pipistrelles it depends whether you are more likely to have Soprano Pipistrelles (55kHz) or Common Pipistrelles (45kHz).

Join the Parts Trust Bat Walk:

7.45pm Thursday 29 August
Ouzel Valley Park
£2/person

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