Many of you know I love bats and enjoy guiding bat walks on the farm for our guests. We listen to bats' echolocation with bat detectors as they fly over the ponds catching mosquitos and midges. Back in June I borrowed a recording bat detector from the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat project for three nights to see what activity it picked up. I located it between our two ponds in our garden at the farmhouse and to be honest I didn’t hold out much hope as the forecast was for rain, rain and more rain. However I was pleasantly surprised when I got the results back after a couple of weeks.
The recordings confirmed that we have both common and soprano pipistrelle bats here along with Daubenton’s bat, that hunt low over the surface of the water. It recorded a few serotine bats which I know tend to fly north over the cattle pasture beyond the yurt field. A pleasant surprise was the number of noctule bats, not a species I’ve heard on the detectors myself however they have been recorded nearby.
We had five times as many common pipistrelles as sopranos and lots of unidentified Myotis bat species which may be Daubenton's or could be their close relatives Natterer's, whiskered or Brandt's bats. We are unlikely to have Bechstein's bat here I think, likewise lesser and greater horseshoe bats, as we are a little way from the dense woodland habitat they prefer
Many of the bats we do detect at our ponds may be commuting each night from Blackborough House via the hedgerows and treelines. Bat surveys conducted as part of the planning process for the derelict building, discovered five species roosting in the building and a further three flying outside.
At this time of year mother bats are gathered together in maternity colonies having given birth to their single baby around about Midsummer’s Day. They are most likely to roost in buildings or in trees during the summer. They will soon be starting to fly.
The video above is from August last year and shows what I believe may be a mother and baby on its maiden flight near Swallow Barn, one of our holiday cottages at Halsbeer Farm. We have pipistrelles roosting in the end of the conservatory near where the balcony of Swallow adjoins the conservatory wall. We also occasionally find bat droppings in the conservatory itself, below crevices in the stone work - from previous observation I think these are likely to be brown long-eared bats.
September's Devon Bat Festival
The Devon Greater Horseshoe bat project has a bat festival coming up during September with some fantastic events, some of which are near to us. Highlights I’ve picked out near us are:
Take a look at this page for the full schedule of events http://devonbatproject.org/events/.
To find out more about bats, including how to locate your local bat group where you live visit the Bat Conservation Trust's website at www.bats.org.uk