Bat Walk 2012

We held the 2012 Bat Walk on Abbey Fields on Wednesday, 25th April 2012. Please see below Celia Rickers’ report on this event:

After a day of near continuous rain, a group of hardy members and visitors met Jon Russ, a volunteer with Warwickshire Bat Group in the Abbey Fields car park. Jon, who is an ecologist specialising in bats, explained that bats have an echo-location system which allows them to locate insects and avoid obstacles in the dark. As the bats fly, they produce high-pitched squeaks and listen to the echoes coming back which indicate their immediate surroundings. As these high-pitched squeaks are generally not heard by us, Jon lent the group some bat detectors, which pick up the sounds the bats are making and turn them into sounds we could hear.

There are 18 species of bats in this country, all of them feeding on insects, the most common and smallest bat are the Pipistrelle bats (of which there are three species – the common, Soprano and Nathusius’), which eat in the region of 3000 insects in the course of an evening. The common Pipistrelle has a wingspan of about 20cms and weights about 5g. Daubenton’s bats (named after the French naturalist Louis Daubenton 1716-99) are usually found flying very low over water as it searches for insects.

Light rain began again and it was generally a cold evening as the group moved to outside the barn in the hope of picking up any sounds from the detectors. Eventually common Pipistrelles were located between the avenue of trees leading from the church. In search of the Daubenton’s bat we moved our position next to the lake and saw these bats flying close to the surface of the water. Although the evening was not as pleasant as it has been for past Bat Walks and consequently fewer bats were seen, everyone appreciated the knowledge that Jon gave to us and the photographs he brought.

Please read report below from a previous year’s Bat Walk:

A dry calm evening was an ideal setting for our Bat Walk last year, although it was not so much a walk, but a short few steps from the Barn through to the top part of the lake and then round to the feeding platform. We were a group of 22 adults and 4 children, not all members and considerable interest was shown, as many had never seen or heard bats before.

With the help of John Waller of Warwickshire Bat Group, and armed with hand held detectors and a large torch, we managed to find three different bats, all close to the children’s play area. We were first introduced to Noctules which have long thin wings so that they can fly fast and high over the tree tops reaching speeds of 30mph; then Britain’s smallest bat the Pipistrelle, which is only 4cm long and weighs about 5 grams. Finally the Daubenton, which have a medium wing and cruise just above the waters surface like little hovercrafts. It was a very successful evening, and everybody thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We are in the process of arranging a Bat Walk for 2014 so keep an eye on the Future Activities page where the date will be posted.

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