Friday, January 21, 2011

Bats. I think bats are AMAZING creatures. I've been fascinated by them for a long time, and over the past few years I've worked as a bat ecologist, surveying buildings and woodlands for evidence of bat activity. While standing at dusk for hours staring at one crack in a two-hundred year old oak tree may not appeal to everyone - it appeals to me. And as a bi-product I've had many a close encounter with unsuspecting avians. Namely Woodcock, Barn Owl and Tawny Owl. I once had a stare-off with a Barn Owl in a woodland in County Durham. The Barn Owl won.

Anyway, it has been long accepted that bats neither breed nor hibernate on Bardsey Island. But, it's full of fantastic bat sized crevices, caves, and bat food which Rich has previously posted photos of. There are ad-hoc records of bats every year on Bardsey. Last year, the best record was of a Lesser Horseshoe Bat, which rocked up on the staircase of one of the cottages on the Island. Lesser Horseshoe Bats are the craziest of all of the UK bat species, and since I've done all of my 'batting' in Northern England, and Lesser Horse-shoe bats are strictly a South/South-West species this was a very exciting event for me. Unfortunately, I was in a beer garden in Norwich when Rich rang me to inform me of his find.

Lesser Horseshoe Bat (c) Richard Brown

Unfortunately the bat was severely dehydrated and attempts by Rich to rehydrate it were in vain. Check out his unique horseshoe shaped face, which is an important part of this species echo-location equipment, and acts similarly to the facial disks of Barn Owls by helping it locate its prey.
This year, I will be spending time armed with my bat detector at dusk to find out which species of bat are around, and potentially tracing them back to their roost sites (they have to sleep somewhere!). I'll report what I find from mid April onwards.

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