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20/04/2013 at 12:21

We talk a lot on here about encouraging beneficial wildlife in our gardens but not a lot about bats.  Did you know a tiny pipistrelle can consume 3,000 midges in one night?

We used to have a colony of about 30 when we moved here about 20 years ago but they are now down to just one or two even though we have turned former cow pasture into a garden with a pond and all sorts of plants designed to attract birds and insects so I've been googling about and found this info -

http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bat_behaviour.html

Scroll on down and you'll find a list of lovely plants that will attract them and the by product will be food for swallows and swifts and house martins too as they will come to eat the insects these plants attract.   Double whammy.

20/04/2013 at 15:39

Hi obelixx, we may have your missing pipistrelles. We counted 201 out of our roof last summer. Just waking up now for this year. I'll study your link and make sure I've got the right things. 

The hassle from the mozzies has decreased as the have bats increased, worth making them welcome just for that

20/04/2013 at 15:46

That's wonderful Nutcutlet.  We also get mozzies rather than mdges.

I've bought a bat house but can't site it till the barn renovations are finished.  I've also bought some night scented stock seeds and already have quite a few of the other plants listed though I suspect this winter will have taken out some of the perennials so I'll fill gaps with nicotiana.

20/04/2013 at 15:47

We have an SSSI just 100 metres from our front door with at least 3 species of bats using the old chalk mines - in the summer they swoop low over our garden taking moths and and midges before they fly over the hill to the marshes - one warm evening I lay on my back on the lawn while OH watched a bat swoop back and forth only a few inches above me - a wonderful experience.

Here is some info from English Nature about the SSSI 

"This site consists of a series of abandoned chalk mines that were probably excavated in the
early part of the nineteenth century. The undisturbed tunnels are now used by various
species of bat which hibernate underground during the winter months. The bats have been
closely monitored for many years and the site forms an important research site for longterm studies in bat ecology. Nationally, bat populations have shown severe declines in
recent years and are given special protection under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.
The tunnels are used principally by Daubenton’s Bat Myotis daubentoni, Natterer’s Bat M.
nattereri and Brown Long-eared Bat Plecotus auritus. Up to 40 bats use the site with peak
numbers occurring in January. A metal grille has been placed over the cave entrance to
protect the bats from unauthorised interference. The surrounding woodland in the chalk-pit
influences the micro-climate within the bat caves and thus forms an integral part of the
interest of the site."

20/04/2013 at 16:17

Hi Dove.  That's very interesting. 

My garden is next to and opposite two boggy pastures which are designated a site of special environmental  interest for the breadth of species specialising in this habitat.  Trouble is the cow pasture gets a couple of treatments a year for certain weeds and most of the birds they list as resident actually feed at my feeders most of the year.   I don't know where the bats we lost were roosting and we surely have more insects than before but maybe not the right kind.   

We get far more swallows and such swooping over the horse paddock across the road as that's ours and the farmer that uses it gets bonuses for maintaining it and his own neighbouring pasture as a wildlife site for birds, insects and plants.   Still no bats though. 

20/04/2013 at 19:02

Don't worry about the bat house obelixx, we made thwm a summer and a winter roost and they've never used either.

I love bats.

And moths. Hope to run the first moth trap of the year this week

21/04/2013 at 08:01

Let us know what you get Nut 

21/04/2013 at 08:08

I love bats  and we had one who flew around outside the lounge window every night at  last house. Plenty of insects for him there but I'm not sure if he had his little roost inside the house or somewhere else. It was semi rural and not many buildings close by apart from the house across the road. I also had them at my little house in south of Glasgow as I had quite a lot of trees so they got plenty of insects there too. Lots of people don't like them but I'm never sure why.

Post some pix nut 

I like the pix even if I'm scared of 'em 

21/04/2013 at 13:51

I'd be interested too Nut.  We had a bad year for butterflies last year and that probably meant bad for moths too.   When we cleared our barn out at Easter, ready for renovation, we did find a few hibernating but only 3 or 4 which is not encouraging for this year's population.

24/04/2013 at 10:12

Sadly, you answer the question of the decline of bats in your first post.

The more people who renovate barns and old houses, the fewer places there are for bats, swifts and swallows and house martins.

Please leave room under the barge boards and suchlike so that the bats have somewhere to roost.  Winter roosts are often quite different from summer roosts.  Bats mainly use space in the roof for their breeding roosts.  Don't stop them getting in!

24/04/2013 at 11:27

Moth trap had to be postponed. Lurgy has reached us. I'll keepyou informed.

24/04/2013 at 11:39

WO - we checked.  There are no bats roosting in our barn and I've been in touch with the RSPB and had a visit form some Swift experts about how to leave suitable space for birds such as owls and swifts plus inviting swallows and house martins to set up home when the walls are finished.

In the house part, we have sectioned off the corners of the attics at the eaves so birds can nest in peace behind the guttering and now have a colony of sparrows and tits who live there all year round, produce 2 or 3 broods a year and have conferences in the hedges we've planted when they're not hoovering up aphids and caterpillars in my garden.    I have a large pond and try and grow flowers to attract a variety of insects and all that's working well.

Just not with the bats.

Nut, I hope the lurgy clears soon.

 

24/04/2013 at 19:26

I wasn't getting at you; you know how to attract wildlife, but there are many people who don't get the connection.

Which of these forums was it that had a post asking what to do about a blackthorn hedge attracting bees and other insects, and how to get rid of it?  Because it was annoying !!

24/04/2013 at 19:55

It's OK.  I didn't feel got at.   I was surprised we had no bats roosting or birds nesting in the barn but it does at least mean we're not disturbing any wildlife with the renovations and when it's all done there'll be nesting boxes and ledges to try and attract birds and bats.

26/04/2013 at 09:33

I just wanted to add that if you don't already,  it's really helpful to let your local biological records office have any bat (or any other) records you have collected, so that they can be aware if any future planning applications come in, and most of all so populations can be monitored. 

 

26/04/2013 at 09:34

Nutcutlet your roost sounds like a significant maternity roost, you lucky thing! 

26/04/2013 at 11:04

My garden is right next to a site of special scientific and biological interest so there is a list of all the vertebrates and invertebrates and flroa to be found.   Most of the birds listed actually feed in my garden and many of the insects too and invertebrates live and feed here too.   No bats on the list though they also don't list all the birds I see.

The list was complied by th elocal eclology and conservation group so I might just join and get them to do another one from my garden instead of the boggy pasture and wood and scrub land next door.

 

26/04/2013 at 11:19

Hi Pipistrelle, love the name. Yes,we have a good colony. haven't seen many yet this year though and wonder if the long hard winter has affected them. There are a few long eared about the garden as well, we find evidence of feeding in the summerhouse.

26/04/2013 at 14:58

Saw pips flasing past the window yesterday evening as they left the roost under the fascia boards.  They are about!  The earliest I have seen them was on a February evening a couple of years ago.  But not this year.

26/04/2013 at 21:02

Thanks, nutcutlet. Yours made me smile  . The ongoing colder weather does delay their waking from hibernation and in theory the longer the hibernation, the more energy is used and the greater the risk of them not waking up at all, or not being in as good condition when they do. I think the biggest risk is them waking a little too early and there not being enough insect prey around. Waking uses up a burst of energy. I've heard the odd pip over the last few nights but I know that our pre survey training session isn't happening as early as planned because the bats were not around when the session was being organised.

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