We are at that point in the year when bats have mainly come out of hibernation – they are hungry, active and feeding on most nights… and I have been looking forward to their return! Last year, I attended a BioBlitz event during which I went on a ‘Twilight Bat Walk’ with the LRWT and detected several pipistrelles. As a result, I now have my very own ‘Magenta Bat4’ bat detector and will be out and about with it over the next couple of months to see what I can detect. At the end of January, BatLife Europe revealed that the 2016 ‘Bat species of the Year’ was the ‘Noctule’ – one of the largest British species and usually the first to appear in the evening, so hopefully I will see one!
I also adopted a bat through the Bat Conservation Trust, a fantastic charity which has been devoted to the conservation of bats and the landscapes on which they rely since 1991. “As the authoritative voice for bat conservation” they work locally, nationally, across Europe and internationally to:
- Discover: To ensure scientific evidence is in place to support bat conservation
- Act: To secure and enhance bat populations and their resilience in a changing world
- Inspire: To win the levels of support required to secure and enhance bat populations
- Strengthen: BCT to achieve financial stability and sustainable staff workloads. Staff and volunteers are motivated and well led.
There are many ways that you can help the BCT, and consequently help the fascinating but vulnerable bats – you can adopt a bat like I have, become a member, volunteer, even encourage them into your garden with night-scented flowers, wild sections and ponds! Now that summer is approaching, imagine how lovely it would be if you could spend the evening sitting in your garden, “watching as daylight turns to dusk and bats begin to fill the night sky”.
Alternatively, if you are unable to turn your garden into a bat haven, trees and woodland are important to all 18 UK bat species throughout the whole year. Signing the Tree Charter will help create more habitat for bats and other wildlife, but also visiting areas with linear features, such as hedgerows and tree-lines will give you more of a chance of seeing and/or detecting bats.
The importance of trees for bats
© Tree at Beacon Hill, Leicestershire.
- Loose bark for roosting
- Woodpecker holes for roosting
- Rot holes for roosting
- Feeding perches and protection during bad weather
- A linear navigation aid
- Cracks, splits and crevices for roosting
- Hollow trunks for winter hibernation (if frost-free)
- Dense ivy for occasional roosting
Have you made your garden bat-friendly, or know of an area where bats thrive? If so, I would love to hear from you!