Here at Knowsley, we are working with the Merseyside and West Lancashire Bat Group to research native bat species. We’re particularly interested in which species of bat are using our site to feed and breed, and how they’re using the features of the local landscape. This involves us catching passing bats for a quick check-up using specialised equipment which doesn’t harm them in any way. The bats are then released to carry on with their night’s feed.
Recently we teamed up with the Cheshire Active Naturalists group who had just completed a workshop on how to identify British bats. The wildlife enthusiasts put their new knowledge to good use and got some real practice on identifying different British bat species.
Time to go Bat searching!
After scoping out our vast, extensive woodland, they eventually found some roosts within old oak trees. Sure enough, after dusk, they recorded and identified the striking Common Pipistrelle on their acoustic bat detectors. But that wasn’t all; they also heard the calls of Noctules, Brown long-eared and Myotis batsmaking a late guest appearance.
Everyone had lots of fun, listening to the calls and talking about the bats’ flight patterns! Unfortunately, no bats had been trapped for identification. But just before everyone was about to pack up for the night, something got caught in one of the team’s nets. To their surprise, there was a bat inside, with ring on its leg, meaning that this bat had been caught and marked before!
It was a male Natterer’s bat with pale wings, and grey fur – a rare species. The bat was a healthy weight and looked in top form for the time of year. In fact, when they checked their records, they discovered that this single bat had travelled from over four miles away where he had last been caught no less than 3 times previously – perhaps he liked the human interaction! Either way, he was a friendly fellow, and everyone went home with a spring in their step.
The importance of bats
Bats are a protected species and play a vital role in our eco system. They consume immense amounts of insects, and others pollinate fruits and flowers. Even their droppings are a rich, natural fertiliser for the earth, so they are real natural do-gooders, even if they can look a little scary. Bats spread seeds, take care of pest control, and pollinate plants, like the cocoa plant that gives us chocolate. What’s not to love?
If you find a grounded or injured bat, please call the National Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228 for further advice.